Submitted by: Alice Spawls
When the E17 Arts Trail first took place in place in 2005, it was a one day event with 50 exhibitions.
A lot has changed since then and this year saw the Arts Trail, which was set up by Laura Kerry and her partner Chris out of frustration at the lack of opportunities to exhibit in the area, celebrated its 10th anniversary in June with a 16-day festival showcasing work by 4,000 artists for an audience of more than 15,000.
The massively positive spirit that everyone loves about the festival was evident from the opening party at Vestry House and continued to grow and grow over the two weeks.
For the first time the Art Trail was broken down into more manageable minitrails, focusing on different areas. These mini-trails enabled people to explore new parts of the borough or discover all the amazing things happening on the streets around where they live.
The introduction of the Blackhorse Arts Trek drew crowds to the Blackhorse Lane area, welcomed newcomers Made by Ore and Blackhorse Workshop and brought together a community of makers, artists, designers – as well as everyone else who fancied joining in.
The range of exhibitions was absolutely amazing: you could see everything from painting, sculpture, music, and dance to madrigals, shadow plays, knitting, performances, furniture and jewellery.
As well as the exhibitions there were lots of fantastic events – walks through Epping Forest, bus tours, talks, live painting, buntingmaking, story-telling, dance classes and poetry readings. And alongside all of this ran the Appetite food festival – fuelling and delighting hungry trailers – and the Walthamstow Film Festival.
The creativity and exuberance led to all sort of mad and wonderful happenings: rainforests in cafes, golden pineapples, little free libraries, art growing on trees and much more.
One of the really special aspects of the Trail is being able to see artworks in the studio where they were created or in the artist’s house (one work was painted on the house). It gives such a great insight into the creative process and it’s fantastic to be able to discuss the work with the artist.
The Trail also gives artists the opportunity to meet and share ideas with other local practitioners and visitors will have been inspired to produce their own artworks, learn a craft or think about how they might get involved in next year’s trail. However, even beyond this building of appreciation, the Art Trail is also very effective at developing that, which is very difficult to measure, but clear when you see it – a sense of community.
Information on future Arts Trails can be found at: www.artillery.org.uk