Thursday, 4 February 2016

The wonderful wonders of Walthamstow...

This week's #KickUpTheArts was inspired by my new friend Lady Chingford, who rules her domain in Jimmy Choos. This brilliexcellent blogger led us to Walthamstow and the wonderful worlds of Bob & Roberta Smith, William Morris and Chris Bracey - #ArtsCrusaders extraordinaire.

The William Morris Gallery is a real gem - a proper child-friendly gallery without impinging on grown-ups' enjoyment of the works on display. A fifteen-minute hilly walk (or 5 minute bus ride) from Walthamstow Central station, it's been hosting Bob & Roberta Smith's exhibition, "Art is Your Human Right" and I'm so glad we caught it before it closed last weekend.

Enraged by the Government’s downgrading of art in schools, the artist Patrick Brill (aka Bob & Roberta Smith) decided to fight back. This exhibition follows his campaigns; from his furious painting, Letter to Michael Gove, to the launch of the Art Party and his attempt to be elected to parliament in 2015.

The exhibition was great for the Girlchild, she got to send a postcard to London's future Mayor, stand on a soapbox, hold a picket and let off some steam.

For me, I loved seeing the realisation dawn for her that yes, art IS important and YES, she and her friends should be doing more of it in school. It's not just her #dementedmum banging on about it, real people do it too!

It simply couldn't have been a more apt exhibition for us to visit as part of this #ArtsCrusade.

We also discovered that William Morris was "amazeballs" - designer, printer, bookmaker, philanthropist, conservationist, socialist, artsncraftcrusader, was there anything he couldn't turn his hand to?

The gallery is really hands on for kids, there was a queue in the corner where you get to lay out paper against 2 mirrors set at 90 degree angles to create a repeating pattern using stencils. Sounds complicated, but we're gonna fangle our own and do it as one of our after school craft activities. She did some weaving and stained glass making and we shared a most delicious pie.

We loved the whole experience and left feeling 'bobtimistic'.

Arts Crusader Rating ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️

Up one hill and over another, we came upon a mini Stratford Upon Avon - tudor houses, a church and a cemetery perched looking down on the village, who knew such olde worlde wonders existed in Walthamstow? Worth a trip for this alone!

Next up and the highlight of our #ArtsCrusade so far, was the glorious, glittering God's Own Junkyard - "where neon never dies" - an absolute feast for the senses.

Before he passed away in November 2014, artist Chris Bracey resurrected and repaired neon and bulb lights, from movie sets, fairgrounds and far flung places. He created pieces for artists including Martin Creed and brands looking for something quirky and beautiful. He obviously loved his work because it SINGS!

We were gobsmacked. The Girlchild's chin hit the floor. She and her friend spent an hour taking photos and the staff were firm but brilliantly good humoured about having the grownups keep an eye out in case of accidents.
There's a cafe-bar on site serving delicious homemade cakes and a fine selection of beverages. With a gin-palace on one side and a brewery on the other, adults (with or without kids in tow) really have all bases covered, so GET YOURSELF DOWN HERE QUICKSMART. Thank you Chris Bracey for this inspirational place.

Arts Crusader Rating ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️+ ⚡️

Lesson learned from this week's #KickUpTheArts? My kids are the lights of my life (did I really say that???). I want them to grow up confident, happy, open to new experiences and free to express themselves. Exposure to arts and culture from the earliest stages will help make this happen. We need more art in schools. Art makes people powerful.

Art. Makes ya smart.

Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone and go all the way to Walthamstow to remind yourself of that ;)

The Arts Crusader ⚡️

P.S. I'd love to hear your stories and suggestions, feel free to comment, to follow the Arts Crusade on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and to give yourself a #KickUpTheArts 

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