In other news I'm busy working in Barking and Dagenham getting The Mobile Museum ready for it's launch, making a new filmwork in Dagenham about Goresbrook Village or LegoLand as it was locally known and finally, I'm back in Melksham, Wiltshire, developing designs for permanent work in the town including developing a new Town Guide to be stocked by the tourist information centre, blending fact and fiction to help you navigate your way through the town.
Wood Street, E17 is defiantly individual: out of 200+ businesses, only four are chains, an incredibly unique ratio. The Wood Street Survey of Retail Trade (An Artist’s View) is the culmination of 18 months research by visual artist Verity Jane Keefe.
In April 2013 Verity was commissioned by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, as part of their Outer London Funded regeneration programme, to produce an innovative moving image artwork. The resulting work, “The Quest for Bronze Tanning”, was supported by a set of three fanzines which held much of her research, including a survey of retail trade found in the local archives, representing retail trade patterns in Wood Street and the surrounding areas in 1963. In the archived document businesses and trades were categorised by type and shown by a symbol in the document.
Verity proposed to re-make the survey, 50 years on, to represent a contemporary slice of the unique street, currently part of an ambitious regeneration program. This new survey featured in the final fanzine. The new survey absorbs contemporary additions to the local shopping hub: Pound shops, Fast Food outlets and Internet Cafes and maps them alongside longterm residents of the street such as Colvins, Dennis Lock Services and Peter’s Clothing.
The information presented in the artwork is neither conclusive or fixed, it represents a moment in time and an artist’s interpretation of Wood Street as found in July 2013 and as told by its shopkeepers. London Borough of Waltham Forest had identified the flank wall at the corner of Wood Street and Vallentin Road as a potential site for public art and invited Verity to translate the Survey of Retail Trade into a large scale wall painting (mural) as a gateway of Wood Street.
The piece was lovingly hand painted by skilled signwriters led by John Singh from Alpha Signs. It shows the ambitious translation of a document, once hand typed in the 1960’s, reworked digitally via a computer then installed by hand: analogue to digital to analogue.
WOOD STREET INSIDE OUT is supported by the London Borough of Waltham Forest and the Mayor’s Outer London Fund, which is helping increase the vibrancy and growth of high street places across London. THE WOOD STREET SURVEY OF RETAIL TRADE (AN ARTIST’S VIEW) forms part of WOOD STREET INSIDE OUT – a programme of public projects seeking to enhance the character of Wood Street, delivered by a creative team led by East Architecture. This programme is restoring heritage buildings and providing new lighting, signage, planting, play areas, street furniture and high street frontages as well as commissioning public art projects which are connecting and animating diverse communities and spaces in the neighbourhood.
Notes to editors:
Verity-Jane Keefe is a visual artist, working predominantly within the public realm, using moving image, text and installation based work to explore the complex relationships between people and place, and the idea of the landscape as museum. She is interested in the role of the artist within urban regeneration and how experiential practice can touch upon and raise ambitions of exisiting and invisible communities.
“Waltham Forest Council is committed to improving high street facilities in the borough, which our residents have told us is one of their top priorities. We want to support local businesses and see them thrive, particularly when we know times are tough which is why we are investing £9million into our high streets and supporting new businesses by creating attractive High Streets and attracting visitors. This is all part of our ambitious plans to create a better place for our residents.”