Art for all in E17

The 2021 E17 Art Trail has finally arrived – but what a journey it was to get here, writes columnist Penny Rutterford  There were times over the last year […]By Waltham Forest Echo

Portrait of Lloyd Ramos (Credit: Jane Sharp)
Portrait of Lloyd Ramos (Credit: Jane Sharp)

The 2021 E17 Art Trail has finally arrived – but what a journey it was to get here, writes columnist Penny Rutterford 

There were times over the last year when it seemed like an impossible dream for us all to come together to celebrate our own creative corner of London with a festival. 

But it’s here, and it’s happening – on the street, in homes, gardens, community and faith spaces, studios, shops, cafés and restaurants. In fact, in places all across the E17 postcode. 

The E17 Art Trail is produced by Artillery, where I work, and our aim has always been to create lasting, shared memories among neighbours by creating projects and events together. 

It provides work opportunities and paid commissions for artists and freelancers, so that our local creative sector can survive and thrive. We are also committed to bringing creativity and audiences back to our struggling high streets. 

But it’s the collective endeavour of so many people who work or volunteer with us that makes Walthamstow’s very own biennale come to life – and indeed the community, who came together to support a crowdfunding campaign last year to keep us going. 

Donors told us just how important the E17 Art Trail was to them. One said: “I was drawn to live in Walthamstow due to the amazing art trail… and remain in love with the borough and its artists.” 

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Another added: “The Art Trail has always been a highlight of our E17 year. We’ve discovered many wonderful local artists and our kids have grown up with a love of art.” 

With donations and other financial support in place – including receipt of funding from the Arts Council Cultural Recovery Fund – we have been able to provide opportunities for artists to get together online, with Creative Climate panel talks and virtual Artists Open Houses. 

Some of what you will see on the 2021 trail is a direct result of some of those digital meetings and conversations. Expect to see magical creations from recycled rubbish, painting and photography documenting our lockdown lives, a forest flash mob, art and wellbeing workshops, an evolving woven celebration of our green spaces, and much more. 

Laura Kerry and Morag McGuire, co-directors of Artillery, said: “We were unsure what to expect this year – but wow! Hundreds upon hundreds of artists and makers are taking part, either as individuals, in groups or as part of collectives of all ages and from across the local community.

“We know from experience that art, creativity and play are hugely important for our health and wellbeing – and maybe that has never been more needed than now, whether we are still shielding at home or taking tentative steps outside. And everybody’s welcome.” 

This year’s E17 Art Trail kicks off with an online Art Fair, Grand Opening and Preview Night, sponsored by Stow Brothers. Grab a printed Trail Guide from borough venues, libraries or from the E17 Art Trail hub at Gnome House on Blackhorse Lane, where you’ll also be able to see a group show curated by Lauren Little of Dark Yellow Dot. 

Then get reading your guide – and enjoy weeks of incredible exhibits. 

E17 Art Trail: Possible Futures is on from 1st to 18th July. For more info, visit E17 Art Trail

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