Sunday afternoon was beautiful: the perfect, warm fall day. John had just jetted off to Chicago for the first part of his crazy business trip (something like 4 different states in 5 days, on opposite coasts - nope, I don't know how he does it either) and I didn't want to stay inside moping around all afternoon, so I grabbed his SLR (my poor Olympus Pen is on its way to the repair shop) and headed out to find Wood Street Walls' murals dotted around Walthamstow.
Problem is, I'm directionally challenged, so I walked past about three of them to begin with (including one at the end of my own street), but with the help of Google Maps, I persevered - and was rewarding by some really cool street art sightings, like these sweet foxes near the Rose & Crown by Irony & Boe.
Founded by Mark Clack in 2014 and with a team of artists and contributors behind it, Wood Street Walls began as an informal group of Walthamstow residents and artists who were committed to bringing art into the community. As of today, Wood Street Walls has brought 17 murals by different artists to Wood Street and the surrounding area, plus they've just been awarded a grant of £18,000 to convert a disused space into affordable art studios for local artists - which will translate into free workshops for local charities, school children, and residents. How amazing is that?
Or to do a double-take at this colorful contribution from Toasters en route to Homebase (where we spend most of our time lately - sad, I know!):
Something I also realized while taking the photos (and pretending to be all professional, when in reality I kept forgetting to manual focus and locking my lens in place when I wasn't using the camera. So. Not. Cool.) was that the people around me would also do a double-take; as if it was the first time they'd noticed this incredible artwork right on their doorstep (like I said, I missed the one at the end of my own street!).
There's something more to Wood Street Walls than simply prettifying the place we live in; there's a mission, an ethos, a determination to build community behind it. As one of the founders, Mark Clack, told me, according to the Warwick Commission Report, the number of arts teachers in schools has fallen by 11% since 2010. Wood Street Studios could provide a positive alternative to kids who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to participate in art projects.
More importantly, Wood Street Walls reminds us all to find beauty in our surroundings; to look around us. I mean, really look.
Outside of the grant I mentioned above, the new community hub that Wood Street Walls is trying to develop (Wood Street Studios) is completely crowd-funded. Wood Street Walls will be selling prints of selected walls to contribute to the crowd-funding efforts - I don't know about you, but I'm definitely in!
If you're interested in learning more, donating to Wood Street Walls, or doing the Wood Street Walls walk yourself (the weather's perfect for it!), head over to their website here. They've even made a handy map to help you navigate and find all the walls here.