Art on another level

artlevelartlevel© Caroline Barkus

Art lovers who live in this stretch of east London won't always need to head into town to see new works. They will be able to enjoy original art by visiting the Upstairs Gallery at The George, Wanstead.

The manager of The George, Grant Thompson, was so impressed with the work he saw during the first local art trail in September last year, that he has offered to make the upstairs of his Wanstead High Street pub an ongoing gallery for the newly formed Art Group Wanstead (AGW).

"This is a fantastic opportunity for our artists and a boon for the area," says a spokesperson for the trail and art group. "We're incredibly fortunate that Grant is so innovative."

About 200 people showed work in the trail, but it is generally very difficult to find suitable public venues, even for professional artists. Now, visitors to the high street are being encouraged to call into the landmark pub, on the corner of the High Street opposite Wanstead Tube station, to see local art. Some wintery and holiday-related art is already being displayed – some of which is shown on these pages. Themed exhibitions will be changed regularly throughout the year at this first-floor bar and restaurant area. There will soon be an official opening of the gallery.

In order that potential customers can make enquiries about the work on show, contact details will accompany the work. Already a Christmas art and craft fair was held upstairs at The George, to help encourage visitors to wander in and enjoy the new venue. Other gallery events are being lined up for this year. Keep looking out for signs outside the pub and details inside.

Art Group Wanstead – an inclusive group of amateur and professional artists involved in the trail – plans a varied calendar, to make this area of London more entertaining for local residents and to draw visitors to our High Street. The group will also run the rebranded Art Trail Wanstead in September this year, continuing the work with some of the same co-ordinators and tutors who organised the 2010 trail.

"This area has so much potential for art," says tutor Patrick Purcell. "There's a lot of artistic activity here, and this is reflected in the variety of classes, clubs and groups in the area, many of which are based at Wanstead House Community Centre."

"Art is for everyone," insists photographer Ginnette Benedict Carty, of Blake Hall Road, Wanstead. She is among the energetic group of people determined to make our local area more vibrant, even friendlier and an art hub for east London, to benefit artists, businesses and the local community.

The new Art Group Wanstead aims to help and promote local artists – professional and amateur – and alert local people to nearby classes, courses and other art-related opportunities. It will support and complement art activities, groups and classes in the area, allowing artists to get together. There will be exhibitions, selling events, talks, a website for members and a forum. And that's just the start.

The Upstairs Gallery will be open during pub hours – whenever the floor is open to The George's customers. At the end of this month, local artists will be invited to submit art work on two new themes – Love and Food (or Drink) – in time for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. For more information about Art Group Wanstead, email Donna Mizzi on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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