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Walthamstow (Garden) House Party

Participants at Walthamstow Garden Party 2018
23 Jun 2020
4 min read

Lockdown means our annual festival plans in E17 have had to change this year. But there’s still plenty of fun to be had – even while at home.

The seventh Walthamstow Garden Party was due to take place this month, but the coronavirus pandemic meant getting 30,000 people together for a weekend of fun in Lloyd Park just wasn’t going to be possible.

Undeterred, we’re launching Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air, a programme of free activities developed by local organisations and community groups to get people into the spirit of the festival, and be creative at home. 

From Wednesday 1 July, there will be a variety of free resources and sharing ideas to help you get started. Among the free activities you can do will be decorative 'kimono' kite making with Blackhorse Workshop, DIY windchimes with Walthamstow Toy Library and Play Centre and Scribble & Smudge, and crafting birds with the William Morris Gallery. You can also get weaving with Rezia Wahid from the Waltham Forest Muslim Culture Forum and explore a range of artist workshops and family activities commissioned by Artillery. As well as so many more virtual activities, video performances and more.

We’d love you to share your creations – so post them up in your windows, on balconies and on social media, and encourage your friends and neighbours to take part too. Join the fun on #WGPInTheAir.

Then, over the weekend of 18 and 19 July, East London Radio will be broadcasting live, bringing you activities, discussions and music from our Walthamstow Garden Party friends.

If you’ve been to the festival before, you’ll remember Walthamstow’s Wild Card Brewery’s beers. Since lockdown the team has launched a home-delivery service to areas of east London. If that’s your tipple of choice, grab a brew from them and get in the festival groove.

Here’s your ‘festival guide’ to how you can join in the fun while staying at home. You can find it all, and more on the Walthamstow Garden Party website.

Stage One: Make/Create

There’s a wide range of projects you can do while in lockdown, from instructional videos to  craft packs, or even signing up for a kite kit.

William Morris Gallery is partnering with local sculptor and animator Esther Nelsen. To celebrate Morris’s love of birds you can join live workshops and create your very own different bird sculptures to display and ‘fly’.

Local creative champions Artillery are running a broad programme of socially-distanced activities, including an exploration of the much-loved children’s book Grandad’s Island by Waltham Forest author-illustrator, Benji Davies. Watch and listen to stories behind the migration headlines with Stories and Supper. Discover how-to films by artists. Become an art forager with Louise Weir, or play with the sounds of everyday objects with Helen Maurer. There’s a storymaking workshop for children aged four-ten via Zoom, or a Walk & Chalk by Rachel Summers. 

Blackhorse Workshop is a fully-equipped wood and metal workshop that’s open to the public (except during a global pandemic). It has produced 1,000 kits so people living in Waltham Forest can make kites, and commissioned ten artists to inspire their designs. If you live in the borough, apply for a kit on their website; and if you don’t, you explore the virtual gallery on their website.

Rezia Wahid from the Waltham Forest Muslim Culture Forum – a network of Muslim artists, creatives, heritage workers and producers – invites you to create a loom installation using items that can be found, such as twigs and wool. Watch her video on the Walthamstow Garden Party website to join in and discover her Air Looms in the Forest film.

Give your colourful and noisy old toys a new lease of life with help from a free craft pack organised by Walthamstow Toy Library and Play Centre, and Scribble & Smudge. The DIY Toy Chimes packs include materials and instructions to create a wind chime to hang at home and bring that festival feel to your local neighbourhood. 500 packs will be given away to Waltham Forest families through food banks and mutual aid groups. You can also create your own wind chime by following the video on the festival website.

Two dancers on stage at Walthamstow Garden Party 2018

Stage Two: Be Inspired

Take part in your own creative activities from music to dance.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, our artistic associates Drum Works have been running online drumming sessions with their partner schools and community groups. Many of the people have recorded themselves playing their parts at home, using items they had to hand, to create a mosaic video for Walthamstow Garden Party Up in the Air – watch it on the festival website.

Leytonstone-based inclusive dance company DashDotDance is releasing a new dance film inspired by the movement of helicopter seeds from sycamore trees, which has been developed in isolation and filmed by professional dancers in their homes. Try your own dance moves at home, by following the directions, and see if you can spiral, fall and float like the seeds.

Voices Rising will see young people aged 11-25 share spoken word, poetry and music they have created during lockdown. You can watch a film of their work in a film to be launched over the Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air weekend.

Ascending Rhythms is a short film by Mbilla Arts featuring uplifting rhythms from West Africa. Bringing together members of Mbilla Arts' Walthamstow djembe drum circle and professional artists including Senegalese dancer Aida Diop, Gambian drummer Seneke Sillah and flute player Paulo Forcellati, this is a celebration of the E17 community. 

The Skate Jam will be going virtual this year inviting all riders (skate, BMX, scooter, inline) to film themselves going “in the air” doing tricks in its first ever virtual competition. Edited video submissions should be maximum of one minute long and must be filmed in Waltham Forest, with at least one trick filmed at Lloyd Park Skatepark. The closing date for video submissions is 17 July with winners announced after 19 July. 

Performing arts studio X7eaven will explore the magic of expression through dance and spoken word in a new video performance that demonstrates the strength of community.

Dao Lu CIC will run live Zoom Tai Chi Breeze sessions on both event days.

A performer on stage at Walthamstow Garden Party 2018

Stage Three: Live on Air

While there’s no physical event, the Walthamstow Garden Party weekend of 18-19 July will have ‘live’ opportunities to join the action. We go ‘on air’ with East London Radio between 1-5pm, with hosts Sam Francis from X7eaven and local hip-hop artist and mentor Lemzi celebrating some of the amazing projects and people in the borough. Expect to hear behind-the-scenes chats with local artists, live music streamed from St Mary's Church, specially-commissioned audio creations, inspiring stories from local cultural keyworkers and more. 

Our Barbican music programmers will curate an hour of music each day of the best artists from the Walthamstow Garden Party archives and new artists audiences would have discovered this year. Tune in on the Walthamstow Garden Party website, or using the Tune In radio app, and listen again after the weekend on the Walthamstow Garden Party website. 

On 19 July at 4pm everyone is invited to go to their doorsteps/ streets/ front doors/ balconies and cheer. Share your cheers and creations with us on #WGPInTheAir (we'll also announce this on the radio). You can find out how you can contribute on the Walthamstow Garden Party website.

There’s more being added to the line-up throughout July, so keep checking the website for the latest information. We look forward to seeing how you get creative.

Skatepark Jam at the 2019 Walthamstow Garden Party

With thanks

Walthamstow Garden Party In The Air is created by local creatives and residents; produced by the Barbican in partnership with London Borough of Waltham Forest. Supported by Arts Council England.

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We rely on the money we raise through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising to deliver our arts and learning programme. It forms more than 60% of our income. Show your support by making a donation and help inspire more people to discover and love the arts.