Shed-load of talent


With Art Trail Wanstead taking a year off, we invited local artist Jola Spytkowska to present her work here instead, including her lockdown-revamped garden shed

I spent lockdown tackling my garden shed and transforming it. I have wanted to do this project for over 20 years and it took a global pandemic to create the time and space to sort it, but it was worth the wait.

It was inspired by my love of Polish folk art and the charming, traditionally painted cottages I saw in a village in Poland.

I am based in Forest Gate and consider myself very lucky not only to have the beautiful Wanstead Park around the corner, where I enjoy my daily walks with my terrier Mishio, but also to have a garden. Not a luxury everyone had during lockdown.

The gift of lockdown for me was that I had no distractions and was therefore able to relax. This, in turn, helped my creativity. Most importantly, the good weather allowed me to spend most of my time outdoors.

With time to think, I started to imagine how my environment could be a fun space to live in. Starting with the shed, an eyesore for many years!

I did some research, prepared sketches, took measurements and made a plan. Luckily, B&Q had just reopened so I bought shed paint and a set of Nova Acrylics from Amazon, which are suitable for outdoor surfaces.

It was a liberating experience painting those flowers and on a large scale. It was also exciting, partly because it felt forbidden, in the way we were not allowed to paint on walls as children.

Because I have enjoyed this project so much, my hope is that this will lead to a few commissions in the future, however small or large. I would be happy to take on anything from garden and allotment sheds, beach huts and compost bins to furniture. In whatever style or design desired.

I am a ceramic artist and a ceramics tutor by profession. My work is also inspired by colourful folk art, amongst other things, and I primarily make creatures which have a humorous and quirky quality to them.

I usually exhibit in galleries and craft fairs and have shown my work a couple of times in Art Trail Wanstead and had a feature previously in the Wanstead Village Directory.

The shed – or shrine as I now call it – houses  all my ceramic work, materials and tools.

I would like to think that I may have inspired others to feel adventurous to pick up their brush and have a go at painting something in their garden or home.

I surprised myself, and now I have made a start, I feel undaunted by my plans to continue to transform the rest of my house and garden.  The stairs are next!

Incidentally, that cat flap was somebody else’s bright idea for my cat to live in the shed! It was never used, and because it annoys me, I may have to paint a cat on it one day.

To view more of Jola’s work, visit wnstd.com/jola

For more information on Art Group Wanstead, visit wnstd.com/art