In 2014 and 2015 I worked with the brilliant Barbican producer, Rachel Smith, on the Walthamstow Garden Party, a giant cross-arts festival on Lloyd Park, just behind the beautifully restored William Morris Gallery. In 2016 I covered Rachel's maternity, co-producing the event for the Barbican.
The festival is unique. It offers a rich and flourishing biodiversity of activities, performances, food, fun and games - and it is free! It is the result of a partnership between the Barbican and Waltham Forest council - and is truly rooted in the community.
My work had a specific focus on external partners, building content with over 40 local artists, community groups and creative hubs, programming and shaping particular areas of the festival, managing relations with key stakeholders, and keeping an overview of all aspects including production, marketing and evaluation.
Lloyd Park boasts herb gardens, tree-lined paths, play areas, a moat and island, an outdoor gym, bowling greens, tennis courts - it is a much loved sanctuary and resource for the locals. The idea behind the Garden Party is to bring together the wealth of artisans, designers, growers, food traders, brewers, musicians and community organisations in the area, and curate a high-quality abundance of fun, art and festival activity using all of the park's varied spaces and character. A fitting tribute to William Morris' passion for quality goods, craftsmanship and community.
The festival has now enjoyed three years of sunny weather - it has been hugely successful and attracted tens of thousands of people. It feels like a fitting celebration of William Morris's legacy.
One rather lovely outcome for me working on the project has been to fall in love with Lloyd Park. I have seen how many and varied its users are - bowlers, joggers, dog-walkers, roller-skaters, loungers, tennis-players, picnickers, mums and tots...It reminds me how fortunate we are to have these green, quiet, free civic spaces amidst our jostling, traffic-clogged streets, and how important they are for the sanity and wellbeing of city-dwellers.