Discover Leytonstone's Vibrant Art Trail

An Exclusive Interview with Leytonstone Arts Trail co-organiser Hilary Douse

Discover Leytonstone's Vibrant Art Trail

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We caught up with Leytonstone Arts Trail co-organiser Hilary Douse to find out more about the exciting event showing Leytonstone as a hub of creativity from Saturday 1st – Sunday 9th July 2023.

Can you provide an overview of the Leytonstone Art Trail and its significance within the local community?

The Leytonstone Arts Trail was set up as part of the Leytonstone Festival in 2008.  It soon became big enough to be a separate visual arts festival in its own right. It is a platform for artists to showcase their work in the local community.  The intention is to make art accessible to everyone and to attract people onto the High Street and into local businesses and community spaces.

How did the idea for the Art Trail come about, and what inspired its creation?

The Arts Trail was set up by Anna Spain and a small group of organisers, inspired by its “older sister” the E17 Art Trail. They felt that Leytonstone could have a similar event on this side of the borough.  Frances Bowman then led the Trail for several years with other organisers taking up the reigns thereafter.  People have come and gone from the organising group but each year we manage to gather together enough interest from artists to make it an annual event.

Could you highlight some of the key attractions or installations that participants can expect to see along the Art Trail?

It is always hard to know what the Trail will bring until we get out and explore the shows listed and mapped on our website, so the best way to find out is to go and have a look.  There are always surprises and discoveries to be made.

How do you engage local artists and encourage their participation in the event? Are there any specific criteria for artists to be part of the Art Trail?

We begin a call for artists on social media, a few months before the trail. There are no criteria for becoming involved. It is a great springboard for new visual artists, possibly showing for the first time.  Many artists over the years have gone on from the trail to have successful careers in the art world. We encourage people to go and find a local venue that will be prepared to display their work.  Now that the trail is established many businesses want to be part of the trail, so there is always a choice of venues and sometimes artists present us with locations we have never used before which is always good. The pandemic moved us away from having a paper guide to the trail and we tried out a simple web format.  We have a flyer with QR codes that enables people to go straight to the listings and map. Whilst some would still prefer a paper guide, we have found that we can be more flexible with web listings as there are often changes at the last minute so the web guide is more accurate than the paper guide could ever be.

What impact has the Leytonstone Art Trail had on the local art scene and the community as a whole? Have there been any notable success stories or positive outcomes resulting from the event?

Every year we wonder if there are any artists left in the area; will we get any registrations?  We have never yet been disappointed and there are always talented people coming forward with excellent displays of work.  There is always something for everyone.  Many artists have gone on to have successful careers and every year there are several local artists who get accepted for prestigious group shows e.g. the Royal Academy Summer Show or the open exhibitions at the Mall Gallery.  This year Julia Karl, Shirley Cullum, and Rupert Whale have been in central London exhibitions. Paul Dash was invited to be in the Royal Academy Summer Show after being part of the excellent “Life Between Islands” exhibition at the Tate last year.   A mural of his work has now been installed outside the Good Shepherd Studios on Davies Lane which can be viewed at any time.

In what ways does the Leytonstone Art Trail foster a sense of community and promote artistic expression? Are there any interactive or collaborative elements that visitors can engage with?

The Leytonstone Arts Trail is an opportunity for people to get out in the locality, be sociable and sample the cafes and bars as they wander around the Trail.  There are events and workshops e.g.: talks; life drawing; stone carving; still life workshops.  The Wild Goose Bakery is promising a collaborative piece on the walls of their café to which people can contribute. 

Also, anyone can join in by displaying their own art in their own windows or gardens as part of the “Let’s Fill Leytonstone With Art” project.

For more information visit:


Instagram: @leytonstonearts

Facebook: Leytonstone Arts Trail

Twitter: @leytonstone_art


Estates East Team

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