London assembly for North East London — fighting your corner at City Hall
Radicals, makers and fellowship

Radicals, makers and fellowship

Walthamstow welcomes the world this weekend

Celebrating arts and culture from around the globe, the Walthamstow Garden Party takes place across 13 – 14 July in Lloyd Park, E17. It’s now in its sixth year and is firmly established as a staple weekend in Londoner’s diaries as the largest free festival in East London.

30,000 people are expected to go along to enjoy the finest local and global music, dance, arts and crafts, circus and food and drink as they explore London’s Borough of Culture. Performers include Columbian chart-toppers LA-33, Afro-pop duo Amadou & Mariam and Brazillian hip-hop artist Tássia Reis. I am assured that, last year, the Jollof rice alone made it worth a visit to the party!

Waltham Forest is the first-ever London Borough of Culture. The award from the Mayor of London ensures that arts and culture is placed at the heart of the borough’s communities.

As the borough’s Assembly Member, I know that the people of Waltham Forest are its greatest asset and I was delighted when their successful bid was announced last year.

Did you know that East London is home to more artists and art organisations than anywhere else in Europe? That would surely have been music to the ears of one former inhabitant of the ‘Stow’.

William Morris was a radical Victorian designer, craftsman and campaigner who lived in ‘Water House’, a Georgian house in Walthamstow (then part of Essex) in the mid-1800s, along with his widowed mother and his eight brothers and sisters. It’s there that he wrote some of his earliest poetry. The grounds of the house (now Lloyd Park itself) were an inspiration to the young William, who once briefly marooned himself on the moated island!

He eventually became a revolutionary socialist and wrote ‘News From Nowhere’, a book that’s viewed as the first ‘ecotopia’ – a utopian vision of sustainable living. A man ahead of his time, he was a radical, a maker and a believer in fellowship. Indeed, the borough’s motto, ‘Fellowship is Life’ is a direct quote from his writings. His childhood base became the William Morris Gallery – home to the world’s largest collection of his work.

Do join the celebrations at the Walthamstow Garden Party and visit the William Morris Gallery too, while you’re there. And, for those who’ve still got the energy, take a trip on the 123 to Walthamstow Wetlands, which is Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve. That’s this weekend sorted!