7 June 2015

What to see on the E17 Art Trail

Here we are on day seven of the Art Trail and I still haven’t seen much, and instead of going out there I’m lounging on the sofa looking at the guide and making some must-see choices. There are 157 venues listed so clearly, some kind of selection process is in order, but how do you decide? I’ve ended up with 21 circles on the centrespread map, and there are 6 places I have seen already, so if it’s possible to get around all of those I will get to see one show in six.

First choices were preview night at the two places where I’m showing something - a pen and ink / collage drawing at the Mill’s open show Every Picture Tells a Story (no. 61), and three small photos at the Favourite Words show (63) which fills a small flat above the International Supermarket.

Then, I’ve been to a few places close to home that are open all day. The show at Oxfam (62) where the art and second hand clothing are entertainingly mixed up, and my local laundrette (12) showing Katherine Green’s photos of that same laundrette. Barbican Workshop’s headless horseman show (4) - Michelle Reader’s papier mache head was my favourite. The huge new gallery space at Gnome House (No. 1), where the highlight has to be Della Rees’s paper mandala things, big sheets of paper with a delicate array of semicircular cuts that changes as you walk around - that and the brand-new Inky Cuttlefish print studio. And on Sunday, the open houses on Pasquier Road (9 and 10) which are packed with interesting things, as well as being people I know slightly from the local allotments. So that’s it so far. Now for planning what else to visit.

My criteria are of course highly personal, and often the show you expect to be interesting turns out to be less so than the one next door that you didn't plan to visit, but you need some kind of plan. The serious art shows like Blackhorse Lane Open Studios (2) are always interesting. Street Art at Scrawl Collective (128) sounds promising. Anything involving children’s activities, knitting or cute cats means a definite no. The same with poetry really, I’d rather read Coleridge or Carol Ann, sorry aspiring poets but I’m not your target audience. The many schools participating must have some interesting things but there just isn’t time.

You would think photography would be just as good seen on the internet, but in fact seeing framed work hung in a space is a whole different thing. So I’m keen to see if Stuart Moore (79) lives up to what I’ve seen on Walthamstow Life, and Matt Taylor’s witty images of everyday objects (139) must be worth a look, although I wish the show was at his house - I can’t help thinking that must be interesting too. Home shows are always fascinating, seeing how people live and how the art fits into that. The closest to that on my list (apart from Pasquier Road) is 15 Upper Walthamstow Road (103) which has twin studios at the bottom of an amazing hundred-foot back garden. A few shows promise imaginative use of paper, wood and recycled materials (14, 29, 80) although I went to Strettons to find Mark McClure’s salvaged wood installation and they didn’t know anything about it - where are you Mark? Helen Maurer’s shadow installations are great and she is participating at Rogue Science (17), and I want to see what Hassan Vawda is up to (105).

Finally, the Lego show (7) is irresistible, as well as being a chance to visit the new Highams Hill Hub. It looks like the hoeing and weeding is going to have to take a back seat for the next two weekends.

This was first posted in the E17 Art Trail Blog on 05 June. Mark McLure's mural is in fact on the side wall of Strettons, in St Mary Road - see the photo posted on our Facebook page.