Two years ago the On The Brink open air exhibition in the grounds of the Quaker’s Meeting House on the boarders of Wanstead, Leytonstone and the edges of Epping Forest over in East Lonson, was one of the highlight’s of the 2016 Leytonstone Arts Trail. This year, once again, as part of the Leytonstone Arts Trail once more, artists Brett Banks and Mary Knight are curating their second outdoor 3D exhibition. Back to the woods again, back to the Meeting House; this year’s show, over two July weekends, features 21 artists showing a range of sculpture and installation. The grounds aren’t looking so lush this year, we haven’t had rain in this part of the world for ages (can’t remember when it last rained), that grass isn’t looking so beautifully green this year, those trees need a drink, a downpour is desperately needed – those grounds are still very leafy though, the birds are still singing, it is rather atmospheric in those woods, still rather wonderful I was genuinely excited about going to this one, last time it was On The Brink, this time the show is simply called Wild, and yes, before we go much further, let me declare my involvement, I’m one of the 21 artists invited to take part in the show again this year, I’m delighted to be invited again
We’re back in the rather extensive grounds at the back of the Meeting House, just about as close as you can get to feeling like you’re in the real countryside without leaving the city – and the first thing that really stands out this year is that the art is a little harder to spot, nothing is quite so big and obvious as last time – that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, last time the first thing you saw was a couple of really big bold bright pieces, this time you’re kind of having to look a little harder, you’re almost upon some of the smaller pieces, the test tubes hanging from trees, the stained glass or small pieces of organic sculpture before you realise you are. It really is difficult seeing the wood for trees at times, is that a piece of art? I rather like it actually, I rather like having to look a little harder before spotting Teresa Hedderwick’s Fungus down there in the ground, I rather like that you almost bump into those low hanging test-tubes you didn’t see and then realise that’s there’s actually quite a few them, I like that strangers are pointing things out to each other, “have you seen that one just down there behind that tree?”. You almost miss Tony Blackmore’s intriguing geometric piece hanging way up high in the trees (kind of needed to get a little closer to that one actually, kind of lost all the way up there in the tree tops) and you would be forgiven for not catching Ben Swift’s cones, a rather beautiful installation piece that indeed is as simple as it is complex, there wasn’t enough breeze to hear the sound of the pieces, they looked rather wonderful hanging there quietly though Yukaka Shibata’s ground level installation of perfectly placed pebbles right at the back of the grounds is difficult to miss, it could so easily have just been twee, thankfully it never quite is though. Jo Goddard’s Tree Bracelet piece is a delight wrapped there around a tree in an almost folky way – quite a few of the pieces have a bit of an arts and crafts feel to them, the stained glass piece, the traditional wood carving. Actually, It isn’t that easy to work out who’s piece is who’s, finding some of it was hard enough, finding out who’s it is almost impossible without a bit of on-line detective work afterwards.
Silvia Krupinska looks to have come up with something ambitiously interesting again, she’s always interesting, wonder how her will evolve over the two weekends? Who or what will interact with her almost blank canvas and her sunflower seeds? We heat the local foxes have already been taking an interest. Not sure what the Julia Maddison pieces were about, her art is usually a lot more intriguing, indeed her work has been positively documented and celebrated on these pages many times over the past half a dozen or so years, really not sure what the black and white 2d monkeys or cats (or whatever they were) up there in the trees with the artist’s face imposed on them were about? At her best Julia’s work is engaging, intriguing, mischievous, edgy, not sure what she was doing up in the trees, it probably isn’t her at her best.
A group show is as much about the whole as it is about the individual artists, the grounds at the meeting house give Wild a vital edge, a flow that it probably wouldn’t have in a more formal setting, the overgrown grounds beyond the small graveyard and the somewhat sun-beaten labyrinth allow every piece to breath in the space each artist needs while still connecting the show as one whole – the craft next to the contemporary in the ivy, the traditional next to the pieces with a bit more edge in there with the blackberries that aren’t quite ready yet, the whole thing works so well, the grounds are a pleasure, the space to breah is a pleasure, it all feels right. If you’re aware of Emma Harvey’s work then her main piece here will only add to the air on intrigue, it will only add to interest there already is from those who know in her growing body of art – a body of work that is mostly but not entirely made up of her paintings, her work takes another little twist here, tied around a tree, in the woods -and if you don’t already know of Emma Harvey and her work then this will surely have you curious? The red ribbon partly obscuring the hand-written words in that book that are tied to the tree – a very strong piece, a beautiful piece.
And on you go, spotting things, sharing information with others who might have missed something, exploring the grounds and the exhIbition, Oh, there’s an actual white plinth, there in the ivy, there, over there with what you might call a more traditional piece of sculpture on it, and those small cages hanging in yet another tree look rather interesting, especially as part of the body that is the whole of the show.
It feels good in here, the layers, the leaves, the shadows, the tress, the birdsong, the sunshine, the intrigue – the fact that there aren’t any immediately obvious pieces dominating your first encounter with the exhibition, adds rather than subtracts, indeed it makes the whole thing a far more exciting engaging experience than the other rather more formal rather more stiff open air art show that opened in London this week, And yes, I might be one of the participating artists, so I probably shouldn’t be saying it, but the previous show in these same grounds in 2016 was easily the highlight of that year;s Leytonstone Arts Trail, this second show from the same curators here in 2018 might just prove to be even better than that first one was (sw).
The participating artists this year are: Brett Banks, Tony Blackmore, Kath Cottee, Elizabeth Davies, Siobhan Davies, Pippa Davismoon, Jo Goddard, Emma Harvey, Teresa Hedderwick, Patsy Hickman, Jolanta Jagielo, Mary Knight, Silvia Krupinska, Kikis Leventis, Julia Maddison, Klaus Pinter, Helen Porter, Yukako Shibato, Margaret Spiers, Ben Swift, Tracy Ward and Sean Worrall
Wild takes place at Wanstead Quakers Meeting House, Bush Rd, London, E11 3AU. The event runs over two weekends with the grounds open from Midday until 5pm on both Saturdays and 1pm until 5pm on both Sundays, the dates are 7/8th July and 14/15th July
STOP PRESS: There is a map now’ and nice clear marking of the art
Click on an image or enlarge or to run the fractured slide show