The Leigh Art Trail has been a long time coming, or so it felt. Originally due to be held in May 2020 it was yet another event in an endless list that was postponed due to the pandemic.
I had begun preparing for the Trail, along with the other artists in SEVEN, back in September 2019. We were excited to be exhibiting at a new venue – The Refill Room, which is the first zero-waste shop in Leigh-on-sea. In response to the values of the shop we chose the theme of ‘Reclamation’. Our starting point was to find old, unloved second-hand books that we could turn into altered books.
The book I chose was on crewel embroidery. The pages in the book were a mix of photos, text and embroidery stitch diagrams, which gave me plenty of material to work with. The idea of an altered book is that you can respond to the content already there (if you want to) or cover it up (if you don’t) and remove any surplus pages – the choice is yours. In my book I seemed to find a heading on each page that I wanted to respond to, and tried to work with the imagery already on the pages. Plus as the subject was embroidery, so I decided to stitch directly into the pages.
Fast forward to September 2021
The event date suddenly arrived! Having waited so long for it, it seemed to come around in a flash!
The event ran over two weeks and three weekends, instead of the usual one week; we were in a different month; and in a new venue, so all in all the September Trail felt a bit odd.
We usually stay in the venue for the duration of the Trail, but two weeks felt a bit too long to do this (plus life got in the way), so we only spent the weekends at the venue. While the number of visitors seemed to be less than usual (perhaps some were still unsure about going out, plus there were so many other events on in September), the visitors we did have were very engaged in our work and an absolute joy to chat with!
In addition to our sketchbooks, this year we also decided to create a window display of ‘flags’. The shop already had a branch hanging in the window and we were kindly allowed to use this. We decided to hang a lightweight material that was sustainable; allowed the light to come through; and also revealed the image on the back of the fabric, so it could be seen from both inside and outside the shop. We chose a bamboo fabric, scanned a page from our books, and had the image digitally printed by Textile Town.
We’re now starting to plan ideas for LAT 2022, which will be the 25th anniversary of the Art Trail. Bring it on!