As the capital starts to get back on its feet after lockdown, internationally renowned artist Camille Walala and art collective Wood Street Walls have teamed up to create one of London’s largest-scale public art projects – the transformation of an entire East London street.
The artist’s first community-funded project, ‘Walala Parade’ unleashes an explosion of colour, creativity and joy on an otherwise grey and unremarkable parade of shops spanning almost the entire block on Leyton High Road. Working in partnership with Spacehive, the UK’s civic crowdfunding platform, the ambitious project got the goahead after it raised a total of £40K.
And in response to the positive community driven project, The Mayor of London pledged £25K toward the Walala campaign alongside hundreds of locals as part of ‘Crowdfund London’ – a programme run by City Hall and Spacehive to fuel creative civic ideas.
The artwork will not only be community-funded, but community-designed too. In keeping with her determination that art should be accessible and engaging to the public it serves, Londoners helped shape the final design by voting on their favourite online before it was painted. Walala has a track record in transforming urban environments around the world through public installations and large-scale murals. In neighbourhoods across London, New York, Melbourne and many more, her bold colour palettes and dynamic geometries have become landmarks, helping to define the character of an area, energise the streetscape, and instil a sense of positivity and pride in the local community.
“Art and colour have an amazing power to spread positivity, especially at the scale of the street. It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to have such a significant impact on the look and feel of an entire neighbourhood and inspiring to be part of such a community-driven initiative,” says Camille Walala. “Waltham Forest is such an exciting and creative area of East London – now it’s going to look the part, too. I am really encouraged to see the Mayor getting behind this project Londoners are joining together to change their local area, and taking charge of the streets with art!”
Local businesses such as street food café Deeney’s and animation studio Mighty Elk were early backers of the project, as they felt that their neglected streetscape would benefit from an artistic intervention, and that Walala would be the perfect creative to provide it. Camille will be working with street-art collective Wood Street Walls to create the mural. To ensure the environmental impact of the project is minimised, the mural will be created using recycled paint from Forest Recycling Project and a new carbon- absorbing paint that Wood Street Walls is piloting.
“We’re very excited to work with Camille to bring the artwork to life and this will not only brighten up the High Road but help to cement Waltham Forest as a growing hub for creativity and we hope it will help to inspire a new generation of artists in the area,” said Mark Clack, Wood Street Walls CIC.
“The Walala Parade is a brilliant example of how civic crowdfunding can fuel creative civic ideas. Project creators are realising that communities, businesses and councils are eager to get behind bold ideas. We’re particularly excited to see Walala Parade come to life at a time when the high street has been hit hard by the pandemic. Ideas like this don’t just lift our spirits – they help places to build back better,” explains Chris Gourlay, CEO and Founder of Spacehive.
“We believe art and culture is a great way to engage the community and brighten up public space, instil a sense of civic pride and also attract more people to the area and increase footfall – as we emerge out of lockdown, this is more important than ever,” adeed Patrick Dwyer co-founder of Deeney’s.