May 2020


Artistic isolation

IMG_2908Mersea Oyster Shed by Julia Brett

Artists have always sought isolation to find their muse – but it is very different when isolation is thrust upon you! Woodford Arts Group was set up to keep local artists in touch, and that ethos continues in lockdown, says Julia Brett

A lot of artists have home studios or areas to work in, but some forms of artwork need to be done in professional workshops. Artists, like writers, try to have a schedule, a discipline, although by its very nature, the muse strikes when least expected. It doesn’t keep office hours.

Having recently moved more into printmaking, I regularly book studio time at a printmakers. This is because the techniques I’m using involve a lot of hazardous chemicals and acids. It also gives me access to a large press, but more than that, it also allows me to mix with a small community of other printmakers who share their techniques and enthusiasm. This is, of course, on hold for now. Luckily, I do have a smaller press at home which allows me to continue working. I work on copper and other metals.

The Mersea Oyster Shed shown here is a copper etching with aquatint and was completed before the restrictions were put in place, but I have managed to print a limited edition of prints at home.

Another method of printing, which can be done without a press, is called mono printing. For all those people stuck indoors, this is an easy way to get creative and stave off boredom. It’s something parents can do with children, from the very simple art of potato stamping, which many would remember from school, to the more sophisticated. There are lots of free YouTube videos that show this easy technique.

YouTube is also a great source of free art lessons. Plus, Facebook and Instagram are awash with artists offering free tuition at the moment.

The shutdown has affected many of us in different ways. Woodford Arts Group member Darren Evans had just opened his exhibition at Lopping Hall when it was cancelled. Our own travel-themed exhibition planned for the end of May will no doubt also be cancelled. But hopefully, we will put this exhibition on later in the year. This will take us out of Woodford to all corners of the globe and we have all been continuing with our art in its many forms. In the meantime, we will be putting on a virtual exhibition and will publish details of this nearer the time.

Fellow member John Rowlands is a metal sculptor and has recently finished a piece of work of rugby players in action. He is now working on a large commission in his garden. You can see John in his workshop on our podcast page on our website. These podcasts are a work of art in themselves as Cheryl Gabriel, who was a BBC producer-turned photographer, has used her considerable skills to ‘produce’ us!

Other members of Woodford Arts Group are also still working from home. David Varney continues to work on his resin pieces, which can also be seen on our podcast page.

Many members’ plans have been disrupted, and to quote Ged Rumak: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Ged planned lots of open-air painting at the coast but is now working from sketchbooks. Plein air sessions were something else we as a group planned to do more of this season, especially around Woodford, to get the community involved.

Alison Stenhouse has also been working on a coastal theme of the east coast, while Emma Liebskind has been making use of her garden, pondering natural forms and structures that represent home and places of safety.

All in all, we are keeping in touch and encouraging each other until we can get together again and get our Travellers’ Tales exhibition back on the road.

For more information on Woodford Arts Group and its members’ work, visit

Local dentist on call for advice

Young couple looking at tablet at home

Residents with any dental concerns during lockdown are invited to contact local dentist Dr Amjad Malik for advice.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, dental practices have been closed by Public Health England, and many patients have been left unable to access dental care. But Dr Amjad Malik of Improve Your Smile is available to take calls and video calls (even if you are not a patient of the Woodford Green practice) if you have any issues with your teeth or need urgent dental advice.

“Many people have contacted us for a video consultation to discuss tooth whitening, teeth straightening, replacing old mercury fillings with white composite and many other concerns they have about their dental health. If you want to know about your options then please call me to arrange a video call from the comfort of your own home,” said Dr Malik.

Call Dr Amjad Malik on 07597 208 432


New film looks at Wanstead and Woodford during the Second World War

Screenshot 2020-05-07 at 14.01.16Air Raid Wardens, Herongate Road, Aldersbrook

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day on 8 May, a new online film exploring Ilford, Wanstead and Woodford during the Second World War has been released.

Researched, written and produced by Redbridge Museum staff, the film (watch below) looks at the outbreak of the war, evacuation of local children, the Home Front, the contribution of local industries, the damage caused to the local area by air raids, victory celebrations and the bittersweet aftermath of the war.

Victory in Europe – VE Day – was declared on 8 May 1945, a day after Germany surrendered. The Prime Minister (and local MP for Woodford) Winston Churchill gave his iconic BBC radio broadcast to the nation announcing the German surrender. The news of Victory in Europe sparked street parties all over Ilford, Wanstead and Woodford.

“In our current challenging times it is poignant to commemorate the hardships of the wartime generation who fought so bravely for the freedoms we take for granted today. Redbridge Museum hopes the film will provide a unique insight into how the war affected the borough and will be both a valuable educational resource and a fitting tribute to local residents. We hope you enjoy the film and will share with friends and family,” said Gareth Morley, Head of Culture & Libraries for Vision RCL which manages the museum.

“I hope you all enjoy Friday’s celebrations. Let’s take time to remember those who risked their lives to protect our freedom and pay our respects to our Armed Forces community, past and present, by sharing two minutes silence on our doorsteps at 11am,” added the Leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal.


Recycling and green garden waste collections to resume in May


Redbridge Council’s recycling and green garden waste collections will resume this month.

Fortnightly green garden waste collections will start from Monday 11 May. Weekly household recycling collections will begin from Monday 18 May.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the council made the difficult decision to stop separate recycling and green garden waste collections at the end of March to concentrate on household rubbish. This is because there were not enough staff and drivers available to carry out all the collections safely, as many were self-isolating due to the government’s COVID-19 national guidance,” explained a spokesperon.

When the services restart, residents should leave their recycling out on their normal collection days (check your’s here) and can start separating their recycling once again in the black and blue boxes.

Chigwell Road Recycling and Reuse Centre will also reopen from 11 May, but with long queues expected, residents are urged not to make any unnecessary trips to the site.

“While Chigwell Road RRC is reopening, I would urge residents to not make any unnecessary trips to drop off rubbish, unless they absolutely have to. Our refuse crews will be collecting household rubbish, recycling and green garden waste, so please be patient and bear with us as we catch up. We may not be able to take all your green waste or recycling in one go. We will collect as much as we can and take what remains on your next scheduled collection date. You should only visit Chigwell Road RRC if you have waste that may be harmful to your household, such as dangerous DIY materials, or broken items that have sharp edges and could hurt your family or pets,” said the Leader of Redbridge Council, Councillor Jas Athwal.


Seeds of hope

IMG_0476The Crabtree family are creating raised vegetable beds in their garden on Overton Drive

Growing your own fruit and vegetables is good for the environment and, during these times of isolation, it’s good for the soul as well, says Jennifer Hawkes of Wanstead Climate Action

Grow Your Own, Dig for Victory! These ideas have been around for a long time and have played their part in our shared history. But, as I’m sitting here in self-isolation with the sun streaming through my windows, I’m struck by how much the idea of sowing seeds and growing food at home has to offer us at this point in history when we are facing a climate crisis, a deluge of plastic waste, a global pandemic and extreme isolation.

The simple act of sowing seeds and growing food has its part to play in supporting individuals, communities and society to grow hope in the midst of these crises.

As we face growing levels of carbon emissions, growing your own can reduce the carbon footprint of your fruit plate to almost zero. According to Mike Berners-Lee, in his book How Bad are Bananas, a garden-grown apple has a carbon footprint of zero, compared to 10g of greenhouse gasses caused by one locally grown apple and 150g per apple for those New Zealand apples sold in our local supermarkets. British grown strawberries have less than a tenth of the greenhouse gas emissions of their imported counterparts, and garden-grown strawberries again have none.

Even growing a small amount of your own fruit and veg can reduce your family’s carbon footprint significantly.

Pre-washed and packaged salad bags are a convenience food that has taken over vegetable shelves. Each bag is linked to 3g of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the pollution of our soils and oceans. There is no good way to dispose of plastic bags but we can use less of them! Growing your own lettuce leaves, rocket, herbs and salad is an easy first step into the world of growing your own. And, with each harvest you enjoy, you reduce your plastic footprint.

Growing fruit and vegetables is also good for the soul. In this time of isolation, growing plants provides a routine of tending, watering, harvesting and preparing. It gives individuals and families an opportunity to get outside and enjoy sunshine, exercise and activity. A glut of produce can be shared with neighbours and friends. Conversations can be had at safe distances over allotment boundaries or garden walls.

If you’re tempted to try growing your own for the first time, some easy starter vegetables are salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, courgettes or runner beans. All of these can be grown in containers on a sunny balcony or in a cleared part of a garden.

Give it a go and enjoy the benefits to you, your family and our larger world.

For advice on how to grow your own fruit and vegetables, visit

For more information on Wanstead Climate Action, visit


Emergency lesson


The emergency action taken to combat coronavirus needs to be applied to other areas, like climate change and biodiversity destruction, says Councillor Paul Donovan (Wanstead Village, Labour)

The coronavirus outbreak has turned life upside down across the world. It has brought unprecedented restrictions on normal life, forcing people to stay at home, distance and isolate.

The present state we find ourselves in also shows people exactly what an emergency looks like. The whole workings of society have been mobilised to counter the threat of the virus. No business as usual, no waiting till the money is available to act – actions have been taken immediately; a matter of life and death.

Many people have said life will never be the same once the virus has passed. This may be true; it should be true. There is, of course, the danger that things will return to business as usual, with this period being viewed as an aberration, unlikely to occur again for some time. It could also mean a doubling up of destructive processes to make up for the time lost during the crisis. This would be a very stupid position to adopt. Lessons need to be learned; life cannot go on as before.

One of the positive developments coming out of the measures taken to counter the virus has been the drop in pollution and emissions – largely due to much of the environmentally damaging activity undertaken on a daily basis having stopped. The suggestion that in China far more people have not died due to cuts in pollution caused by the slowdown in economic activity than have due to the virus is somewhat revealing.

Fish have returned to the waterways of Venice for the first time in decades. There are many other benefits that have come for the environment because the economic juggernaut has slowed, allowing the earth to breathe.

Moving forward to the time after the virus, the same urgency applied to this emergency needs transferring to other threats facing humanity, like climate change, pollution and biodiversity destruction. The positives for addressing these issues for having several months of business not as usual need to be learned and built upon. The economic model must change and change quickly to one that promotes sustainable living and outlaws environmentally destructive practices.

Government at all levels has seen an emergency and just what can be done to address it. Time to transfer the means and approach to environmental matters, not put them on the back burner to a day when things can be afforded.

People will have learned much about themselves and ways of living over this period. Things will change, hopefully for the better. They certainly need to alter for the common good. If the coronavirus has taught nothing else, it must be the importance of living in harmony with nature and coming together to confront adversity at times of trouble.

For information on Wanstead’s own environmental charter, visit

Helping kids afraid of the dark: publishing contract for young writer


Nine-year-old Wanstead resident Riku Fryderyk Borowczyk – who is a member of the South Woodford Young Writers Club – has signed a book deal with Pegasus to publish his story The Witching Hour.

“In this story, I want to help children who are afraid of the dark by making them think differently about what might be there that they cannot see,” explained Riku.

“We’re looking forward to the launch of the book in the next few months and seeing The Witching Hour on the shelves of our local bookstores,” said his mum.


Local artist offers free ‘relaxation through art’ classes online


Wanstead artist Brenda Coyle invites residents of all ages to take part in her online art classes during lockdown.

“I can’t keep still, so I decided to start running ‘relaxation through art’ classes for free online. I asked my students to pass on my email to friends and family so that they could join in, doing a bit of meditative art while self-isolating,” said Brenda, who had to suspend her classes at Wanstead House. Brenda’s tutorials cover a range of techniques, including crafts for children.

Email or click here.


Wanstead Social Distance Club: lockdown-friendly talks

Screenshot-2020-04-15-15.33.20Author John Rogers took part in the club’s first meeting

Local resident Giles Wilson – who runs the Wansteadium blog and organises the annual Wanstead Fringe – has launched the Wanstead Social Distance Club, offering a series of online talks.

“The inaugural meeting took place last month when author John Rogers spoke about some of the fascinating things he’s learned while walking around our bit of east London,” said Giles. Local crime writer Anya Lipska has also taken part in the club, which broadcasts its presentations using video conferencing app Zoom.



Emergency Appeal


Haven House Children’s Hospice has called off many of its fundraising activities for the foreseeable future. Chief Executive Mike Palfreman warns this could have a devastating impact and appeals for support

Nationwide, strict restrictions are now in place to stop the spread of coronavirus. Public gatherings, events and ceremonies have been cancelled and shops and businesses have closed their doors.

Our hospice has now launched an Emergency Fund to help us keep supporting local children and their families who need specialist care.

These are challenging times where no one is immune from the effects of coronavirus. Haven House now faces the possibility that hundreds of seriously ill children and families who depend on the care given by our front-line nurses will stop – threatening our very existence. Every day, children and families need our help, but now more so than ever.

Families tell us we are their lifeline and we cannot let them face this alone. The impact that coronavirus will have on our vulnerable children and families could be devastating. Haven House faces a serious crisis and we need the help of our community.

We welcome the government’s announcement to pledge up to £200m to the UK’s hospice sector.

Haven House is on the front line in providing care for some of the most vulnerable children in our local community. I would like to thank the Chancellor for recognising the vital role we play in supporting the NHS in its fight against COVID-19. Whilst we await details of precisely what this funding will mean to Haven House, we can say that these emergency funds will be essential to keep us going in the short term and enable us to continue providing a lifeline and specialist care to our children and families.

We are determined to play our part and support the NHS at this critical moment, and are doing so through offering both beds and expertise, working closely every day with our NHS colleagues to ensure children at end-of-life and in non-emergency situations but without COVID-19 can be swiftly transferred out of hospital to free up those beds.

The funding is very welcome but does not mean we can become complacent in our appeal for funds. We are projecting a loss in income of around £500,000 in the next three months and the situation beyond then is hugely uncertain for everyone. We are keen to highlight our continued need for support from the community, from whom around 80% of our income traditionally comes through fundraising and our shops.

I would like to thank our supporters who have responded to our call for help over the past weeks. Thank you for holding us in your hearts. This support is so essential and we will continue to need it now and into the future.

Haven House is located in Woodford Green. For more information and to donate to the emergency fund, visit