January 2022


Doodle too


Art Group Wanstead member Blandine Martin explains why doodling on empty food packets became an additional artistic outlet for her during the pandemic

I’m Blandine Martin, a French artist based in east London. In my practice, I like to experiment with a multitude of materials, mixing traditional techniques such as weaving, basketry and woodworking with computer-aided manufacturing technology. Recently, laser cutting has enabled me to cut repeated patterns on fabric to create dream-like installations along with semi-sculptural textile work.

I’m fascinated by the fragility of memories, family themed work and the traces we leave behind. Sadly, I recently inherited some old family objects from my late mother. Some were found broken and rotting in the cellar, which made them easier to transform by giving them another purpose and narrative. It became very clear by working on the objects that I was also healing my own grief, which prompted me to include them in my textile show entitled 3am, the exact time my mother passed away. The exhibition – which will take place in July – will include the work of a new textile group called Material Difference, made up of seven artists who came together while doing the same textile course at City Lit.

Doodling has been a very important part of my practice for exploring patterns as well as ‘the running line’, which subsequently informed my textile work by means of digitally printed designs, including machine-stitched threads imitating those lines.

I started using doodling techniques on empty food packaging at the beginning of the first lockdown. It was a way to be creative at home without the need for studio space or tons of art materials. The packaging structure turned out to be the perfect base for drawing. The shape of the packaging also gives the drawing a sculptural dimension, which I really like. As an art technician in a secondary school, I have used doodling techniques with students as a mindful exercise tool and to explore abstracted forms without conscious effort. The students created some really fabulous, colourful, bold and dynamic landscapes.

I joined Art Group Wanstead a few years ago to meet others, share ideas and projects and to be inspired by like-minded people. Since the pandemic started, it became clear just how important it is to be able to join discussions in my local area. I must admit, I was blown away by how big the creative community is around here. Making art can be a lonely task, so to be part of a group can be beneficial in many ways.

Last year, I exhibited at The Stone Space in Leytonstone, displaying sculptures in their window. It was such a positive experience that I am currently looking for more exhibition space in and around Wanstead.

To view more of Blandine’s work, visit wnstd.com/blandine

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


Swan watchers’ plea to keep dogs under control in Wanstead Park


Volunteers who help monitor the well-being of swans in Wanstead Park have urged dog owners to keep their pets under control, especially when the lakes are frozen.

“Earlier this month, many of the park’s lakes were iced over. The swans prefer to be on the banks away from the ice, but if they are panicked and run on the ice, they can acquire nasty injuries from skidding, and reaching them is tricky and dangerous for the rescuer. The ice is also risky for dogs if they run out after the birds,” said a spokesperson for The Swan Sanctuary.


Wanstead House receives funds to improve drama facilities


Wanstead House Community Association has received funds from Redbridge Theatre Company – the former operators of the Kenneth More Theatre – to improve the main hall used by drama groups, including new stage curtains and lighting equipment.

“The company had a surplus of funds to distribute after winding up its affairs. As part of its constitution, any remaining funds were to be used to assist other charitable organisations that support drama and the arts,” said Jeremy Smith, chair of the company.


YouTube channel for talks about the history of Wanstead Park

wh2-1Wanstead House, by Richard Westall (1765–1836)

The Friends of Wanstead Parklands has created a YouTube channel to present the recordings of a new series of online talks about the park’s history.

The Wanstead Park in Context presentations began in January and continue this month with an event on 24 February.

“The next talk will cover the formation of the post-glacial landscape in the Roding Valley and successive waves of human settlement,” said Richard Arnopp. The talks are held on Zoom, with opportunities for questions and discussion.

Visit wnstd.com/wpic


Christ Church Green meeting update: councillors’ statement


Local councillors have issued a statement about the meeting to discuss the commercial use of Christ Church Green, which has been scheduled for 5 March.

“None of the councillors were informed of the date of this meeting before details were published and circulated. So unfortunately councillors are unable to attend on that date, as explained to Colin Cronin [who has organised the event]. Neither are Vision available for the meeting. We understand that Vision will be running drop in sessions at the library for those interested in discussing plans. We will share the dates on our Wanstead Village Councillors Facebook page when we have them,” said Councillor Paul Donovan.

It has been incorrectly reported in the February issue of the Wanstead Village Directory that councillors and Vision RCL representatives will attend the meeting.


Road safety in Wanstead: concerns over High Street zebra crossing


Concerns have been raised over the safety of the zebra crossing on Wanstead High Street, opposite Christ Church Green.

It follows an incident last month when a pedestrian was injured, and in 2016, a 91-year-old man was knocked over and killed at the site. Redbridge Council is considering responses to a consultation on plans to make the crossing a raised ‘speed table’, but there are also calls to relocate the crossing, remove the trees that obstruct the view for drivers and pedestrians, or change it to a pelican crossing.


Road safety in Wanstead: council considers responses to consultations

IMG_8953Redbridge Lane West

Redbridge Council is considering responses to a number of consultations on plans to improve road safety across Wanstead.

The proposals include a raised ‘speed table’ for the High Street’s zebra crossing (near the Co-op) and speed bumps on Redbridge Lane West, The Green, St Mary’s Avenue and Mansfield Road.

“The council is planning a number of measures to improve road safety in the area. We will consider the feedback we’ve received from residents and make a decision in the coming weeks,” said Councillor Jo Blackman.


A portrait of our High Street

RB023 110921 Caesars palace F4 sized 19.5Caesars Palace

Photographer Russell Boyce has used a vintage film camera to create a historic visual record of Wanstead High Street’s shopkeepers, accompanied by their thoughts on the future

I live in Wanstead and I’m a documentary photographer. Throughout most of 2021, I was working on a picture story about the small business owners in Wanstead. My inspiration for this project are the formal pictures taken from the Victorian and Edwardian period of proud shopkeepers standing outside their stores.

Over the year, I photographed more than 30 local business owners and their staff. The project is quite simple; I used a 1966 vintage Rolleiflex film camera to shoot black and white pictures. I photographed all the staff outside the shop as well as the owner or manager inside. I then asked the owner about their business and, crucially, what they think about the future of our High Street. The owners are a diverse group with a wide range of answers – mostly very positive, which is quite uplifting during these tough times.

The portraits and shopkeeper quotes will be displayed outside the Temple in Wanstead Park in March (sponsored by The Stow Brothers).

To watch a video of the views of local shopkeepers, click here

For more information and to contact Russell, visit wnstd.com/boyce

To watch a video of interviews with those viewing the exhibition, click here

A book of the photos is available from wansteadbookshop.com


Agreement on new natural play area in Wanstead Park

IMG_7417The play area will be located on former scrubland behind the Temple

A formal agreement for the maintenance of a new children’s play area in Wanstead Park has been signed off by the City of London’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee.

“This means work can now proceed on the first phase, and crowdfunding can go ahead in March. Credit to the Aldersbrook Families Association for getting us to this stage,” said John Sharpe of the Friends of Wanstead Parklands.

The play area will be constructed from natural materials found in Epping Forest at a cost of £45,000.

Visit wnstd.com/parkplay


Healthwatch Redbridge calls for better local NHS dental services


Healthwatch Redbridge is calling for better NHS dental services in the borough following the publication of their findings from a survey on dental care.

“In some cases, patients were told they would have to wait more than three months for an emergency dental appointment,” said a spokesperson. NHS dental costs were also cited as confusing. ”Some patients told us they were unaware they were being treated as a private patient, ending up with expensive treatment costs.”

Visit wnstd.com/dentalcare


A green roof and wooden cladding: changes to café kiosk design

Screenshot 2022-01-24 at 16.03.38

A decision is expected next month on Vision RCL’s plans to amend the design of the proposed café and bar kiosk facility on Christ Church Green.

The addition of a green roof and the use of wooden cladding are among the changes put forward. Permission to install the kiosk was granted last August – despite 192 objections – and the latest application seeks to discharge several of the planning conditions attached. The unit will be located next to the green’s existing toilet block.

Visit wnstd.com/kioskamend