The most ambitious arts festival to be staged in London’s docklands is planned on the Leamouth peninsular in late September bringing together a local galaxy of 150 independent arts organisations to forge “an incredible island of the arts.”
The Unity Arts Festival, on the weekend of September 22/23, will celebrate the creativity of one of east London’s most exciting new neighbourhoods when London City Island, Goodluck Hope and Trinity Buoy Wharf combine for the first time to put on some of the most innovative exhibitions, installations and workshops seen in the capital.
Drawing, oil and watercolour painting, music and dance, ballet, film and aerobics are just some of the activities that will be on offer in and around City Island’s gallery spaces, studios and workshops.
The Woods, a new music and dance studio opening at LCI by Three Bears Entertainment will join the Unity Arts Festival programme, putting festival goers through their paces with series of dance workshops and fitness classes across the weekend. The Woods will also host a photography exhibition by island resident Sokari Higgwe along with drop-in music production workshops and a choir drop in session.
Atropelos, a new exhibition at the island’s arebyte Gallery combines Brazilian graffiti culture with web-based visuals to form a modern commentary on the abolition of societal borders. And Trinity Art Gallery, an extension of Trinity Art Studios, will host a fine art showcase at London City Island, exhibiting work from local residents and the surrounding area.
For film buffs, Goodluck Hope will host Unity Arts Festival’s movie marathon in the renovated warehouse, bordering the Thames. London Film School’s brightest students, who will soon call the peninsula their new home, will host screenings of their latest work, with Q&A sessions on the motivations and inspirations of their work.
English National Ballet, who will soon be relocating to London City Island, will take advantage of the new dance studios at the development, hosting workshops and demonstrations. Meanwhile, youngsters will be able to explore the world of animation with London City Island resident Tim Allen, who will be holding children’s workshops, creating plasticine figures which will be then brought to life through the magic of animation.
The arts community at Trinity Buoy Wharf will open its doors with The Big Draw, a sketch crawl entitled Uniting the Island, a drawing and painting workshop which will take place inside and outside throughout the whole Unity area. The results will then be on show at an exhibition in Trinity Art Studios the week after the festival.
Another major attraction is that the Festival will coincide with The Line, London’s first dedicated contemporary art ‘walk’ showcasing works by Antony Gormley, Gary Hume and Damien Hirst, which begins at north Greenwich following the meridian to move through LCI where seven sculpture plinths have been installed awaiting new works.
“The seed of the idea for the Festival came after a visit from John Mulryan (Ballymore’s Group Managing Director) who dropped into my gallery with his wife and young family,” explained Ian Felton, who set up Trinity Art Studio in a Victorian pitched roof electricians’ shop 13 years ago.
“He loved what we were doing and invited me to discuss how we could form better links with Trinity Buoy Wharf. He described Ballymore like a huge ship - building 1,700 homes and very difficult to change direction. But through collaboration with an arts trust, he felt it would be a lot easier to manoeuvre and make things happen.”
The festival, said Ian, which would make for “an incredible island of the arts” represented “a huge leap of faith – a leap of faith throughout which Ballymore has been incredible enthusiastic and supportive.”