In 2019 Waltham Forest was the first ever Mayor’s London Borough of Culture. Our opening show Welcome to the Forest was created in response to the themes of our year celebrating Radicals, Makers and Fellowship.
It was a unique event for all the family designed to celebrate our shared past, present and future in this much loved corner of north east London that we’ve chosen to call home.
Artists Greenaway & Greenaway presented Into The Forest, transforming Waltham Forest Town Hall with a high energy, audio-visual, site-specific film that tells the story of the borough through the eyes of Waltham Forest’s diverse communities. Greenaway & Greenaway collaborated with Mercury Music Prize-winning musician and producer Talvin Singh on the soundtrack. The Town Hall hosted a brand new commission from world-renowned, local electronic duo Addictive TV who presented Welcome To The Forest, a unique piece of music created by sampling audio and video of Waltham Forest’s rich and diverse musical talent.
Locally-based international festival curators Continental Drifts transformed Forest Road into a neon-lit, celebratory winter carnival featuring groups and individuals drawn from the borough and beyond in partnership with the legendary Gods Own Junkyard.
Lloyd Park was home to Nest, a brand new commission from artists Marshmallow Laser Feast; an epic lighting installation choreographed to a transcendental soundscape created by composer Erland Cooper working with over 1,000 participants from local schools and choirs.
International in scale and ambition but telling the local stories of this place, the opening event to our year as the very first London Borough of Culture was our chance to say to world: "Welcome to the Forest".
Check out the highlights, from videos to photography and interviews with the artists here.
Hundreds of people from local arts organisations were involved in creating Welcome to the Forest. Many of them will be performing over the weekend. Take a look below to find which artists were involved throughout the three sites:
Electronic artists Addictive TV are known for their innovative live shows and audio/video remixes. Criss-crossing the art and music worlds, creating performances and installations for the likes of the Pompidou Centre in Paris to playing at Glastonbury Festival, duo Graham Daniels and Mark Vidler have now performed in a staggering more than 50 countries. Their latest project Orchestra of Samples, described as "ingenious and compelling" by The Times, samples over 200 musicians they filmed around the world. For Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 they’re creating a special piece with musicians from across the Borough.
Erland Cooper is an award-winning, multi-instrumentalist and producer who was born and raised on the archipelago of Orkney, Scotland. Exploring a balance between alternative, electronic and classical music, his debut solo project began as a gentle response to ease anxiety and claustrophobia working in a large city - setting out to create a sense of balance and calm for both him and the listener, while connecting identity, memory and place through music and cinematography.
Greenaway & Greenaway was established in 2009 by brothers Jude and Jolyon. By working collaboratively through a variety of creative disciplines, Greenaway & Greenaway craft artistic and commercial work that allows for the exploration between the audio and visual arts. Their unique skill set allows them to move freely between sound and vision, forging work that is constantly pushing the boundaries of expression in both mediums and wherever possible, bringing both these art forms together in a single, complete project. Their work has seen them take commissions from a hugely diverse range of clients.
Continental Drifts was started in 1996 by friends with a shared passion for events. Those same friends run the company today from our barge on the river Lea. The company work internationally on a wide range of events and represent some of the UK’s most exciting and diverse performers.
Previous events include: ON Blackheath, LolliBop Festival, Festival 2012’s Summer Like No Other, The Big Lunch, Bestival, MasterCard’s Coin Rd, Bermondsey Festival, David Blaine’s Above the Below, The Queen’s Jubilee, Wilderness festival and Shangri-La at Glastonbury Festival. Continental Drifts are an Arts Council England, National Portfolio Organisation, for our innovative Global Local project and London Remixed Festival.
Marshmallow Laser Feast (MLF) work in the liminal space between art, science and technology. They create immersive experiences expanding perception and exploring our connection to the natural world. Their works combine installation, live performance and virtual reality. Informed as much by playfulness as research, MLF break the boundaries to worlds beyond our senses.