How art brings us together

Visitors to 'Grandad's Island' at Walthamstow Garden Party this summer were invited to get involved in the art project (credit Chloe Beale)
Visitors to ‘Grandad’s Island’ at Walthamstow Garden Party this summer were invited to get involved in the art project (credit Chloe Beale)

Artists and residents are being inspired to transform green and urban spaces for Artillery’s latest project, writes Penny Rutterford

Walking to Lloyd Park on the first morning of Walthamstow Garden Party this summer I heard the shrieks of a passing flock of the now common ring-necked parakeets.

Their sound seemed fitting as I stepped on to ‘Grandad’s Island’, the moated area of the park where local arts organisation Artillery was working its magic with artists and volunteers to recreate the tropical island from the award-winning picture book of that name by local children’s author and illustrator Benji Davies.

I first worked with Artillery in 2011 on the E17 Art Trail. My experiences transformed the way I feel about where I live. Previously I felt more like a visitor – commuting into the city each day, socialising in town after work and heading into the West End for my weekend entertainment.

The E17 Art Trail made me visit neighbourhoods unknown to me; unfamiliar streets were welcoming; I met neighbours and people in the wider community; and it prompted conversations with the extraordinary artists, makers and writers who choose to make this borough their place of work as well as their home. I discovered how Artillery takes the creativity and generosity of the borough’s artists and helps them to share their stories, captivate audiences, even challenge prejudices and preconceptions.

Artillery co-directors Laura Kerry and Morag McGuire are the driving force behind its many community-led projects; their latest one is called ‘Grandad’s Island: From Page to Pavement’. I asked Laura to tell me about their vision. She said: “This project is about creating together, sharing skills and ideas, and making friends along the way.

“It is part of our ongoing commitment to the longer-term legacy of creative projects and the value they bring to the places we live, work and visit. We are excited to see how people of all ages respond to some of the themes of the book which include migration, relationships across generations, family, ecology, love and loss.”

Artillery has invited artists and residents from all corners of the borough to create a story trail that translates the colour, movement, sound and feeling of Benji Davies’ book to life, with a spectacular and free finale taking place in Langthorne Park on Sunday 13th October from 12pm until dusk.

For more information about ‘Grandad’s Island: From Page to Pavement’: