Sep 17, 2009

The end of the Trail... .

Tha last thing to do on the 2009 E17 Art Trail blog is to reveal the contents of my formerly empty suitcase after 9 days in the Vestry House Museum garden. It included::
  • a telephone
  • a hat
  • a decorated piece of plywood
  • a soft pencil
  • a large rubber spider
  • a mug
  • a jug
  • a cup and saucer  
  • a pack of embroidery yarn 
  • a beautifully used paintbrush
  • 2 Wembley footbal match tickets (South Africa vs Croatia and England vs Slovenia) 
  • a pewter bracelet 
  • an embroidered doily
  • a paper doily 
  • a table tennis set
  • a black lace and felt heart
  • a set of belly dancing finger cymbals! 
There were also a lot of conkers, apples. sweet wrappers, pens and leaves! Not quite sure what I can do with some of them but others will certainly be used!! Thank you very much to everyone who contributed.

That more or less wraps up this 2009 E17 Art Trail blog. However, if there is anybody out there who wants to send in a review of something I missed or even a different take on something I didn't, please send it to me and I will be very happy to continue posting guest reviews or other contributions. Alternatively search the blog for things you liked (or didn't!) and please click on 'comments' to add your views.

I have really enjoyed this blog project and although it has been hectic I certainly feel fitter now than when I started ... must have been all that cycling! 
Thank you to everyone I met along the way for your support and your help and hope to see you on the Trail next year!! 
Finally, I have compiled a list of blogs below that have referenced the Trail or linked back to this blog. Please let me know if you find any more.
I am Inspired
Wendy le Ber
Julie Caves
Bryndle Windle
Cat Boy
Name Speaks for Itself!
Archipelago of Truth

East London Craft Guerilla
Beautiful Interiors
Julian Beere
E17 Designers
We are Build

Day Zero - Political Art on the Trail

There seemed to be quite lot of work exploring political themes on the trail this year. This was particularly evident in three different shows only two of which I saw. The opening show at the Changing Room gallery took the title 'The Art of Politics' and was organized by local campaign group antiscrap. This was a very diverse group show which included collage, sculpture, painting and installation and used materials just as diverse including ceramic, postcards, a map and chocolates! It was this mix that made the show work very well. It was thought provoking on a number of levels without being overly ideological and referenced local, national and global concerns.

Fight the Height had arranged their postcards all over one wall and these were added to by visitors throughout the week. This was a great way of focusing attention on an issue that has a big impact on a local public space but remains unresolved almost 5 years later. It is also a way of encouraging community input and an opportunity taken by many contributors to highlight the absurdity of the situation.

Another locally rooted and fun interactive piece was 'The Walthamstow Pound by Wendy le Ber in which fake but very real looking banknotes adorned with the head of William Morris invited viewers to write what they would most like to spend it on and then peg it on a line strung across the gallery window.

Chandra Mora also used banknotes but his was a large Zimbabwean million dollar note highlighting the dire consequences of political corruption in one place in order to make a wider comment on the global ramifications of greed and megalomania.

Corruption was also the subject of ‘Sweet Temptation’ by Martin Adams which infused the whole of the surrounding area with the smell of chocolate. This installation piece consisted of a box of custom made chocolates each bearing the beautifully iced name of its particular path to moral turpitude.

There were several pieces of work in this show that I had seen before among them Roger Huddle’s paeans to past heroes and David Sullivan’s ‘Oval Office’. It was good to see them again and although the depiction of Bush Jr. is not as well observed as that of Condoleezza Rice in ‘Oval Office’ the painting still packs a punch.

Another punch is definitely given by May Ayres dedication to Joseph Scholes. His deeply troubling story and many others like it are given a lasting memorial in this detailed and emotional sculptural form.  May Ayres other sculpture in this show embodies a wider social and economic environment in which individuals exist at the expense of compassion.

There was a lot more in this show but I think these are the ones that stood out for me. Two of the participating artists also had their own solo shows as part of the Art trail Unfortunately I missed Dave Sullivan’s show at the Rose and Crown but I did catch Alke Schmidt’s show ‘Witness’.

Her depressing reflection of recent events incorporating a critique of global capitalism, police brutality and environmental degradation did rather make me want to go home and slash my wrists! The colour of this show was very grey (and dirty FT pink!) relived only by the appearance of some colourful doilies, a polluted orange sky and some beautifully ripped red painted wallpaper.

The appearance of a few surviving animals cheered me up a bit and I liked the vandalism perpetrated on a couple of Chinese hanging scrolls. These were more subtle than some of the others which made their point with a sledgehammer although that didn't always work! The picture using the Bank of England as a backdrop, actually made me reconsider that period in British architecture rather than the politics of the piece.

The doilies were a huge talking point  and many people were not sure why they were there or even if they were really necessary. Personally I think they provided the show with some balance. They were a playful distraction and also a reminder of some of Alke's earlier work related to William Morris designs and the arts and crafts movement. Also without the doilies I possibly would have gone home and slashed my wrists...

If anyone wants to send in a review of David Sullivan’s show be my guest!!

Sep 15, 2009

Day Nine ..... the last day...

One the last day of the Trail, I ended up with a great collection of Art Trail venues - a church, a museum, a pub, a laboratory and a tea party! Being Sunday it seemed kind of appropriate that I started off in the church and St. Barnabas was exhibiting 14 paintings by Henry Shelton depicting the stations of the cross. The pale silvery blues, browns and fluid lines in this series were subtle but very effective and sat comfortably against the stone and the dark wood. It's quite a challenge taking photos in such a huge space but the paintings were behind glass which resulted in a few very nice reflections of the building itself.

After this rather meditative start to the day I then went down to the Pump House Museum to see Kebab(ish), Harriet Hammel's life size soft recreation of a kebab shop. She was having problems because it was very windy and bits of the shop would occasionally make a break for it under a nearby train. Luckily it all stayed in one place while I was there and looked great, All the different components are so recognisable but it's the little details that make this work so brilliant and so funny. I loved the mouse, the flies, the cigarette and lighter and the pitta bread!

Also down there was Sidney Bell who I bumped into when I was at the Image 17 Show. He is not on the Art Trail map but he was very happy to show me his paintings which were being exhibited next to Kebab(ish).

Next stop was the pub... yes, I'd finally made it to the Rose and Crown! Over the past week I had intended getting there three times and each time something happened which meant I didn't make it. However, although I missed several things that were on here earlier in the week going this late meant I got to see the fantastic Lino Cut exhibition. The Red Room looks superb with the work of Martin Adams and Anna Alcock lining the walls on each side.

There is a Darwinian narrative in the lino cut prints of Martin Adams which he explained in his questionnaire before the Trail. There were some lovely images here. I loved the foxes and all the creepy crawlies and my personal favourites on Anna's side of the room were the glorious tiger and the two separate images depicting the sun and the moon.

There were lots of other things displayed around the rest of the pub as well. 'Dreamers' was a joint exhibition and very impressive body of diverse work by Lorraine Huddle and Sandra Shevlin. There were paintings, prints, mixed media works and small framed ceramics but unfortunately these were the least successful set of photgraphs I took! So if anyone would like to send me others I will be happy to use them.

At the front of the pub there were some great photographs by Kate Tilmouth. I really liked the Autumn leaves one and the three hung in the window with the light behind them looked really good too. Gabriela Castellano's bright, abstract and flower paintings and prints really added a splash of colour and Fight the Height had managed to wallpaper a whole area with postcards that have been filled in over the course of the Trail.

The pub was absolutely packed and there were all sorts of things going on. As well the all day breakfast people and the art viewers, a Mcguffin Film Society, EMD cinema campaign meeting was about to start and a lot of people had turned up for that.

Went from there to surreal venue which was Dr. Knit's Knitting Laboratory. It really does look like a laboratory too. Clean white walls, test tubes, specimen jars and other lab equipment. However the most important equipment of all are the knitting needles...

Ended up at the place it began and cadged a cake from East London Craft Guerrilla who were at Vestry House Museum for the Craftea Party. After that all there was for me to do was to pack up my 10 suitcases and come home!

My one empty suitcase is no longer empty but I haven't had a good look through it yet so not sure exactly what what ended up in there. So it's not quite over yet......

Sep 14, 2009

Day Eight (3)

Another thing I wanted but never got round to, was a feature on Rachel's Darkroom which also lives in the Inky Cuttlefish Building . Unfortunately Rachel I'Anson wasn't there when I visited before the Trail but she was there at the party. So...... here are some pics of her pics and her cameras and other cool stuff in her darkroom ....