Sunday, 16 September 2012

E17 Art Trail - the final ride

The E17 Art Trail is finished. Professional and inclusive it defines the present-day Walthamstow like no other event, and lasting 16 days this year it is the longest celebration of all things Walthamstow. To Morag and Laura and Cris and all others involved in making it happen a big thank you.

The neural network of artists and venues provided a huge sense of community. The image of Walthamstow map, as drawn in the guide, and indeed as portrayed in the E17 Neighbourhood Quilt by Catherine West of Significant Seams, makes it look like a cosy self-sufficient island. These are two beautiful feelings to have when you're on a bicycle: you can easily span it all on a bike, pedal from shore to shore, and trace the neural network of this wonderful brain, this wonderful imagination and creativity we have around us.

The feelings accompanied us as we rode today too. They are important because in the ever-shrinking world distances are ever-increasing, and in our ever-expanding city we need a greater sense of location, our own meaningful centre. Bikes give it to those who use them, and E17 Art Trail gives it to Walthamstow.

We started under a grey sky so we got some Mexican sun and guacamole at venue 71, Cleveland Park Art.

We got some cool golden calling cards printed by Matt McKenzie at Paekakariki Press, and admired Kate Hardy's prints which adorn Paekakariki's publications.

Meanwhile upstairs... at Mitre Studios we were greeted by a creation of Esther Neslen, who showed us around.

The Onion Cutters' Club was all about embroidered quips and poetic sewing.

Matt Richards illustrated his street corner with music-inspired digital images.

When you ride a bike in London it doesn't seem so big. Louiz Kirkebjerg-Nielsen also seems to manage the Leviathan in her prints. She pins its parts down with the imagination of a chess player and a exactness of a butterfly collector.

Far from being lost in the woods and stoically philosophical, Walden Studios are bang in the middle of Walthamstow...

and on the money!

We rode through Wingfield Road with a strange sensation...
of being looked at from behind the glass.

The feeling of weirdness continued at Beyca Retro's exhibition of Mat Lenik's WeirdlingThings,  harmonizing well with ground coffee.

After a visit to the Makers' Yard, a fabulous work space in Shernhall Street, we visited Mr Bliss
and his Mirrors of Quirky Bliss.

And after a much-needed coffee-and-cake at Arts and Crusts we wound up at Wadham Lodge where we drank fizz for the Chapel End Arts and Crafts Association

Walthamstow Dad gave us local money, courtesy of the Bank of Walthamstow, to drink to local economy.

Following a re-visit to Inky Cuttlefish, we finally called it a day at Ye Olde Rose & Crown. We tried to pay for drinks with Ten StΓΈwner but found that Pound Sterling still, for now, was the currency of choice.

Till next year, and in the meantime, see you on the road, and the odd dreamy cycle path!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

E17 Art Trail - the Family Ride

The Walthamstow Family Bike Club's E17 Art Trail ride must have broken some sort of record for us: 28 riders! Half of which were naturally children. Travelling an urban circuit it was lucky that Paul, Mat, Lisa and Bridget were all there to get the group across junctions in one go, with the help of the ride marshal's favourite pastime: traffic-stopping.

Our first venue was at the start line: St Mary's Church hosted Fantastic Creatures, creations from students at Kelmscott School. They were great in their own right, but juxtaposed with the church - hilarious:

We next descended on the E17 Art House where kids got down to printmaking with Kirsten Schmidt, 
calligraphy with the Wandering Scribe - calligrapher Diana Furlong, 
and had their portraits drawn by the Magnificent Magical Drawing Machine, 
whilst the adults partook of much-needed refreshments (we'd only just started but it was such a hot July-ish day!) and art by Kirsten (the mesmerising crow-themed Magic Flute) and by Robert M Ball.

After a while we rode to Coppermill Lane, which turned into Birdbox Avenue, and counted as many as 40 birdboxes along it. We did two more art-spotting exercises like this: we rode through Wingfield Road where house windows were adorned with large black-and-white pictures and through Barrett Road where we found HideBird 2012: a large installation full of birds.

We made our way through the forests of Upper Walthamstow and over Forest Road
to Olga Coutinho's Jewellery Making workshop in 22 Pentire Rd where we stayed an hour with some glamorous results, 

before descending to Arts and Crusts for some long overdue pampering from Andrew and Carol.

Finally we made our way to We Love LEGO in 69 Farnan Avenue, where Family Rides regular Richard showed off his and his fellow Brickish - LEGO lunatics' - fascination with the Danish contribution to civilisation.

Back in the Village, we read the story of Mr Sharp's Rubbish Idea, as written and turned into a film by the children of St Mary's CofE school in The Drive.

Join us next week for the 2012 E17 Art Trail's final ride, on Sunday 16 September, 1pm outside Walthamstow Library.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

E17 Art Trail - ride the second

By the time I got to the library there were already some 15 cyclists gathered for the ride. By the time we left the library, we were 21!

We started by visiting Diego the bicycle builder at Racer Rosa, now venue 68. He teamed up with Dr Knit and you can see the effect in the photo. Lovely.

Our next venue was just the other side of the station, but this being Walthamstow, we didn't want to cycle on along the awful Hoe Street and chose to go through Cairo Rd and West Avenue instead - to the Bikeshed, which had been adorned as venue 81.

At St Saviour's Church in Markhouse Road (venue 90) we listened to an organ recital of music by the local Baroque composer John Stanley, and admired beautiful quilts by Gilli Haqqani. Gilli herself was hard at work, creating a Japanese-inspired geometric quilt.

After a sensory overload at the Pictorem Gallery (venue 165) - including the memorable mashed-up portraits by Geoff Haines - and art-and-snacks at the Hornbeam Cafe - including edible bouquets -
and the project mapping local happiness, Happy in Walthamstow

we cycled on to Upper Walthamstow to look at Paula Smith's Photographs from Japan (venue 175).

Andrew at Arts and Crusts (venue 100) once more took care of our energy levels whilst Victoria Road's Brigitte provided a fun guide to the art of portraiture at the cafe's - finally unveiled - rear gallery.

Meanwhile Carol showed us pencil-drawn insects adorning their chimney-breast wallpaper, work by Sarah Hardy of infinitesimal detail.

We came too late to admire all the art at the William Morris Gallery but they did kindly let us in to see Grayson Perry's Walthamstow Tapestry (venue 49).
After a visit to Lot One Ten (venue 53) and Duncan Holmes's photos of Walthamstow architecture (venue 11) we officially finished the ride at the Tokarska Gallery in Forest Road (venue 12).

Some of us cycled back east and took part in the Pink Bear Hunt - a little piece of outdoors play-acting lunacy (venue 168).

And then Mother Nature gave us a piece of her own art:

Tomorrow - bring some kids for the Art Trail family ride!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

E17 Art Trail - the opening ride

It was a fraught first day of the E17 Art Trail and our first bike ride nearly didn't happen. Not that the EDL and We Are Waltham Forest marches actually stopped us from riding, and neither did the police, but the visceral politics which rolled across Walthamstow took away the limelight.

After the start at the library and the Original Army's Pass the Parcel event we visited the E17 Art House (venue 77), always satisfying with its selection of artworks, before leaving Walthamstow Central for distant treasures.

Catherine Linton's Constraint and Femininity in Edward Road (venue 24) was varied in technique and precise in the symbolic treatment of the theme, occasionally hitting at it directly, or maybe just changing symbols: from corsets and baby clothes to Leda and her swan.

6 Waterside (venue 31) presented two artists; Paul Cates's large work welcomed us with a meditation on the passing of time. A static presentation consisting of paintings and clothes, wine bottles and glasses and spectacles and alarm clocks, it changed every two hours when Paul shifted things around – but you wouldn't know if you missed it. His paintings inside included this comment on e-books:

The garden, looking over the reservoir, was playground to Steph Baxter and her mosaics. Steph sat among them with a hammer in front of her, offering a crash course in mosaicing.

We enjoyed upcycled furniture at Forest Recycling Project (venue 163) and miniatures of Arabic ornamentation – part of the Awareness exhibition at the Hornbeam Centre (venue 164).

Kerrie Ahern used Chinese wisdom – you are bound with invisible thread to everyone you ever meet – to express some very personal emotions in the shape of ceramics and installations and photos: An Invisible Red Thread, venue 176. Kerrie shares with all comers a pair of tiny ceramic feet – a reminder that you wear your invisible thread around your ankle. Kerrie also treated us to amazing snacks.

Some Easons and a Bergman (venue 172) is a selection of art by an entire artistic family. They welcomed us with stylish prints proclaiming 'All you need is London'.

After a ride through the forest we had a coffee at the heart and soul of Chapel End, the Arts and Crusts cafe (venue 100). Not all artworks were up yet – Andrew was still working on the gallery at the back, to be unveiled next week.

As we rode through Thorpe Crescent two pink flamingoes welcomed us to venue 39 – The Orchid House (giant ultra-violet installations) and Quercus (wooden furniture crafted to a high polish, and yet in full respect and appreciation of the natural shapes in which the wood had come).

We finished at Inky Cuttlefish Studios (venue 10) – though before we did we were thrust back into the rioting reality of that Saturday. 

Here you can see Esther Neslen's Waiting – one of a series of sculptures scattered across Walthamstow – as well as Anna Alcock's Isabella's Gift, the graphic theme of this year's Art Trail.

Two more rides for those who missed it: next Saturday the 8th, and the last Sunday of the Art Trail, the 16th. And for kids – a tour of workshops during Walthamstow Family Bike Club's ride on Sunday the 9th!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

E17 Art Trail back in town!

East London's greatest event of the year is coming back to town. The E17 Art Trail, bigger and better than ever, which single-handedly (well, with hundreds of crafty hands of the organisers and participating artists) paints Walthamstow onto the map of London is taking place between 1 and 16 September and we are thrilled to be providing bicycle rides between the venues!
Some of you may recognize the inimitable hand of Andy Arthur in this artwork. We loved his LCC Big Ride poster so much we said we'll have what they're having and he agreed - thanks Andy.

But, to the point... come along to the rides. Dress up as your favourite artist or turn your bike into an artwork, or just turn up - that's enough to change Walthamstow a little bit more into an artwork.

There will be a cafe or two on the way but you may want to bring your own bottle. We aim to finish around 6pm.

The rides will be marshalled, however all children must be accompanied.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Black Path closed

Part of the LCN9 route, the Black Path, has been closed. We have had no notice as to why or how long.

If you cycle along LCN9 via the Black Path you will need to take the alternative route via Argall Avenue.

View Black Path diversion in a larger map

We are trying to find out how long the closure is for and why it has been closed.
Of course we will also ask for diversion signs. Our friends across the Lea have demonstrated that this can be done.
Interestingly in Hackney the contractors were able to provide a signed detour during the works which were advertised well in advance and had a completion date notified.

We hope these simple measures can be taken, since it is common practice for any motor vehicle diversion.

 The works are part of the Olympic improvement programme. The path will be resurfaced and should be completed by the end of the week.
We don't quite understand why we have not been consulted at all even though this is part of a strategic route  (LCN9) and there has been a history of problems when it was last upgraded.
Specifically we would have liked the kerb separation, if at all needed, to be cycle friendly (shallow 45 degree kerbs) the arrangmeent of bollards should be addressed (particularly on the south side) and the surface quality is very important and should not be as poor as on the new stretch of Orient way just finished.
We are speaking to the council to see what can still be done.

There have been some coments about this path being some insignificant alley way in an industrial estate. We should remember that it is steeped in history and still forms a very important walking and cycling route we would like to see developed better. More information is here

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Lorry safety, 20mph and permeability - all for Waltham Forest

Will the 'Cycling Action Plan for Waltham Forest' mark the beginning of a bright future for our borough?


On Thursday 19 April Waltham Forest Council voted in favour of a Cycling Action Plan endorsing LCC's Love London, go Dutch campaign, comprehensive lorry safety measures, improved permeability and a 20mph speed limit. WFcycling campaigner Simon Munk gave an emphatic speech at the meeting and our thanks go to him for his tireless efforts liaising with the council to move things forward.

In our borough we have a great selection of products and services, a whole economy, within a short bike ride distance. Yet few choose to cycle even for trips as short as 2 miles. On the other hand a third of the population would like to cycle.

Buildings and streets that are designed with cycling in mind make mobility more equitable and boost local businesses. We have a real opportunity to make our streets better for all building on the fantastic potential for our borough to become a better place to live, work and play.

In our 2010 election manifesto we have asked to support three simple clear points to make our streets better for cycling:

1. Reduce speed and volume of motor vehicles
2. Improve permeability for cycling (maximum route choice - minimum diversion)
3. Provide cycle parking over and above London Plan standards

The newly adopted Cycling Action Plan addresses these points and more (by including lorry safety). We are very pleased with the concrete measures and the firm time scale proposed. It should be seen as a beginning though. Now the work really starts. We need to make sure the proposals are followed up well and we need to work on the detail.

We are a group of volunteers and any help we can get is much appreciated. If you would like to get involved, why not come to one of our monthly meetings (every second Wednesday of the month, 8pm, The Hornbeam centre, 458 Hoe St, Walthamstow, E17 9AH). Or just get in touch directly.

We work under the umbrella and with the expert support of London Cycling Campaign. So there is a great opportunity to be on the forefront of cycle campaigning and to work with experts, be it ride leaders, highway engineers or campaigners.