‘What both the interwar topographers and the situationists recognised was the transformative potential of large numbers of people regularly stepping outside the matrix, taking to the streets and walking, becoming active participants rather than passive spectators.’
Writing about the Leytonstone Centre for Contemporary Art reminded me of the essay I wrote at the end of 2006 about the films of Leytonstone and the Lower Lea Valley for UEL’s journal of East London Studies. This was when I first became more aware of the significant community of artists that lived in the area before the M11 Link road was built. As artist Cornelia Parker said of the mid-80s:
“Leytonstone at that time was a great place to be. A thriving community of artists lived in dilapidated houses that were due to be demolished for the promised M11 Link Road…..The cheap rents and abundance of space created a fertile breeding ground for ideas. Cross-pollinations and collaborations abounded, ground-breaking works given birth to – creativity thrived under the threat of imminent eviction.”
As the possibility of an arts centre being established in the old Woolworths building is being discussed it’s timely to remember this E11 avant-garde, the Leytonstone Left Bank.
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