Have you ever wondered what space aliens would think of Walthamstow? I have, and I came to two conclusions, firstly I need to get out more, secondly, and most importantly, they may well decide that E17 is the centre of activity for the human race.A big claim I know, but if space aliens did come and investigate Walthamstow, what would they find? A place that’s home to people from all the world, half timbered buildings, tower blocks, market, marsh and forest. A gigantic melting pot of opinions and cultures, and home to free roaming herds of wild mattress, or Chuckedout Mattri Eseventeenicus , to give them their scientific name. The other thing E.T. would probably notice is that there is always something happening here, and right now is no exception as the art trail has made a welcome return after taking a year off.
I freely admit to being a bit of an art trail fanatic, I like wandering through the flocks of grazing mattri, carrying my carefully marked up trail guide and seeing what the good folk of E17 have created. Our trail started yesterday on Wingfield Road at a live event to mark the start of Breaking Bard. As well as having live music, this event also involved locals reading extracts from Shakespeare, who according to a book I once read, was a space alien himself. At one point two residents performed the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was in an upstairs window and Romeo was in the front drive way. A passing car with booming music blasting from it’s windows temporarily interrupted the star crossed lovers, but Romeo & Juliet is a story of love interrupted so it kind of added to the reading. I like what the residents of Wingfield & Randolph Roads have done, over 30 houses have come together and created Breaking Bard, quotes from Shakespeare that have made it in to our everyday language are hanging from trees and displayed in windows.
Today we went to another event that was part of the trail, the Big Lunch in St James Park. The sun shone on Walthamstow as we picnicked, ate cake, and watched as art grew on trees. St James Park is often overlooked, but it is a beautiful green space surrounded by a border of stately trees. It was lovely to see so many people enjoying the park today, sharing food and enjoying the chance to inhabit this lovely space.
There are lots of events and exhibitions in this years trail, including mixed race E17, the ex Warner project and the paper forest in 56 St James Street, I look forward to visiting as many as I can. But I reckon if the space aliens are looking at Walthamstow they will be less interested in the art, and more interested in the spirit that brings E17 together during the trail. Residents inviting others in to their homes and sharing food with neighbors at events like the big lunch. For me this is the best part of the art trail, of course I love the end result of the exhibitions and events , but I like the feeling that the trail is our community coming together and sharing ideas and inspiration with each other. If the aliens are looking down and surveying us from their flying saucers, I reckon they will see beyond the herds of mattri, and simply admire our community for what it is, amazing and diverse.