The art of Wood Street

Submitted by: Staff Writer

Local resident Mark Clack has spearheaded a group of local artists to tackle the shortage of studio and displace space for artists in the borough by launching Wood Street Walls.

The community project has three goals: to provide artists with public spaces to display their work, to provide a link between the artistic community and the local community, and to establish a new creative home for the artists of Waltham Forest.

The project’s first piece of public art, a mural designed by E17 residents, Tom Jackson and Craig Evans, who make up artistic duo Static, was erected in November 2014 in Ravenswood Industrial Estate and has already caught the attention of local media, with Mark Clack invited to talk about the project and debate the benefits of street art on BBC Radio London.

Mark was inspired to set up Wood Street Walls after reading the Artist Workspace Study, commissioned by the Mayor of London, which showed there are only 78 art studios in Waltham Forest, compared to the 1,150 in neighbouring borough Hackney.

With the report highlighting that many artists will be left without a home over the next five years, as 30 per cent of studio spaces cease to exist due to rising rents and residential conversions, Mark decided to take action.

“Tom and Craig are facing being without their art space by next June and realising that many artists are in the same predicament, it was a natural step to try to establish a new creative space in Waltham Forest. The space won’t just be for artists to enjoy, it’ll be a space for the community.”

Metropolitan and Baxter & King donated the first public space to showcase the static mural. The Wood Street Walls team have received support from local residents, businesses and Waltham Forest Council.

Councillor Clare Coghill, lead member for Economic Growth and High Streets for Waltham Forest, explains: “We need to make sure there are opportunities for people who aren’t professional artists to work together with amazing people who are.

“It’s also really important to give young people the opportunity to try things that will help develop their careers.”

Wood Street Walls are now attempting to raise £40,000 towards setting up a local creative hub in a disused building, the Manual Instruction Centre in Brooke Road, E17. The hub will combine artists’ studios with a community arts space.

They have set up a campaign on civic crowdfunding site, Spacehive, to gather pledges from as little as £1, as well as goodwill donations of residents’ time and specialist skills. The campaign received more than 70 pledges from local residents – amounting to over £1400 – within two weeks of its launch.

In return for pledges, as well as supporting artists in their local area, supporters will also receive t- shirts, limited edition prints, workshops and even studio space, although no funding will be taken until they reach their £40k target.

As well as pledging to their crowdfunding project on Spacehive, Wood Street Walls are encouraging Waltham Forest residents to support in any way they can from donating wall space or materials – such as wood, paint – to designing a mural.

For more information, visit www.woodstreetwalls.co.uk follow them on twitter on @woodstreetwalls.