Fellowship Square, a major new outdoor space for culture is unveiled next month. Continuing the legacy of the borough’s incredible year as the first ever London Borough of Culture in 2019, local residents and culture lovers from across the capital and further afield will be welcomed to enjoy a season of free and low cost events over the summer in this new space – including comedy from Simon Amstell, Shappi Khorsandi and Thanyia Moore in an evening programmed by Soho Theatre. A year-round arts programme is planned for Fellowship Square – which is bigger than Trafalgar Square.
The launch of Fellowship Square is a chance to bring the diverse communities of Waltham Forest back together in a shared and safe space. Central to Fellowship Square is the Fellowship Fountain – an accessible water installation, with 144 individual jets which can be programmed to music. Multi-coloured lights illuminating the water jets add to the visual impact and bring the space to life, with nightly displays set to take place from this summer.
Among the first to enjoy Fellowship Square will be some of the Borough’s key workers and their families who are invited to a special launch event before the public opening. Fellowship Square’s fountain will be spectacularly brought to life with a specially commissioned performance The Sky is Full of Gold featuring a unique music track co-created by multiple musicians from across the borough, stunning aerial acrobatics around the fountain, and South Asian dance including student performers from local ‘Big Creative’ college.
Then from 17 July, Fellowship Square’s launch season will take place over weekends, bringing together talent from the worlds of comedy, performance, poetry, visual arts, music, fashion, film, food and crafts, culminating in the ‘Fellowship Feast’ Community Picnic on 14 August. All events are outdoor and will take place in accordance with the latest guidance on social distancing and safety regulations.
Cllr Paul Douglas, Culture Lead for Waltham Forest Council said “As we saw in 2019 with the London Borough of Culture, a diverse and vibrant cultural life is the heartbeat of Waltham Forest. From the public art seen on every corner to our craft fairs and comedy nights, it is embedded throughout the borough. And in Fellowship Square – named for a quote from Waltham Forest’s famous son William Morris – we have a dedicated, year-round open cultural space, built around our reimagined town hall.”
Partners in the Fellowship Square programme include Soho Theatre, Continental Drifts, the Waltham Forest Muslim Culture Forum and the Waltham Forest Music Hub. Numerous other local businesses and arts organisations will contribute to this summer’s events as the borough looks to bring families and communities back together after what has been a challenging year.
The season’s events will comprise:
Sat 17 and Sun 18 July
Fellowship Films: Outdoor Cinema A weekend of classic family favourites, contemporary feature films and locally-made shorts programmed by Walthamstow film curators Stow Film Lounge and Leytonstone Loves Film shown on a large LED screen by the Square. Visitors are invited to bring their own blanket and picnic to enjoy on the grassy slopes with food and drink also on offer from local vendors. Headline partner for this event is Countryside Properties.
Sat 24 and Sun 25 July
Made In Waltham Forest Craft Market with music programmed by Continental Drifts
Curated by Leyton&Stone Designers, the market will celebrate a selection of designers and craftspeople from across the borough while local producers will offer tasty food and drink. To add to the atmosphere, Continental Drifts’ programme of music will feature artists which make the global truly local. Surprise flash mob performances from local X7eaven Performing Arts Academy will take place throughout the day and art installations from two of Waltham Forest Muslim Culture Forum’s talented artists Rezia Wahid MBE and Juma Harding-Dimmock will also be on display.
Sat 31 July
Soho Theatre Comedy in the Square London’s legendary Soho Theatre (soon to open a major new comedy venue in the borough) offers up a one-day take-over of Fellowship Square featuring a day of workshops and performances followed by a jam-packed evening show of uproarious comedians handpicked from Soho Theatre’s stages as Fellowship Square welcomes Simon Amstell, Shappi Khorsandi and Thanyia Mooretake. During the afternoon, local social enterprise Haven Coffee’s matinee stage show “Laffuccino” will feature a line-up of talented comedians from refugee and migrant backgrounds. Waltham Forest’s presenting partner for this event is ISG Ltd.
Sat 7 and Sun 8 August
Waltham Forest Fashion Market plus Emily Dust (BBC Radio 1/1Xtra), Fedz and Movimientos
East London fashion hub The Fashion District brings together independent designers and curators of vintage clothing and accessories from across the borough at Fellowship Square, offering a wide selection of pre-loved and designer items to suit all budgets. A line-up of DJs curated by local Continental Drifts will include a Local Global Special on Saturday with Emily Dust (Radio One and 1 Xtra) on the decks, while Sunday sees Fedz and Movimientos creating the perfect musical accompaniment. Local community dance group Leaders Academy will be performing some special surprise flash mob dance performances.
Also taking place over the course of the month will be:
Sound Garden (21 July – 25 August, various times)
A 15 minute self-led spatial audio installation from legendary electronic artist Max Cooper and young producers from Waltham Forest Music Hub, exploring mindfulness, William Morris patterns, and the surround sound from Fellowship Square’s hidden speakers.
Write Across Waltham Forest in association with the Royal Literature Society in partnership with the Mall (from 17 July)
A walking tour across the borough that uses QR codes to introduce audiences to limericks, lyrics, sonnets and slam poetry from poets and wordsmiths including lcoal talent Adreena Leanne, Mo Gallacio, Khaled Hakim, Lemzi, Paul McGrane and Patrick Evans.
Art installation Distant Fellowship (17 July – 15 August) by Studio Carrom in association with the William Morris Gallery will see colourful William Morris-inspired, Indian printed designs wrapped around the gateposts of Fellowship Square. And Here We Meet (8 – 15 August) created by Soloman Sato with the help of local art students explores multiculturalism, colour and sustainable materials in a bright art project that will hang from trees around the Square.
Full listings for all events are included below and can be accessed here.
Speaking about the Fellowship Square launch season, Creative Producer Ben Lloyd-Evans said “The Summer Season is a celebration of the amazingly diverse cultural ecosystem that makes Waltham Forest so unique. After a deeply challenging period of time with the pandemic, I wanted to co-curate a series of events that serve as community gatherings where people feel comfortable to properly relax and enjoy, and to encourage reflection just as much as feeling culturally energised. The events and projects are an opportunity to get together safely, and to celebrate some of the wonderful creations from across the borough.
“We have young music producers working with the legendary Max Cooper to create a site-specific audio installation, we have aspiring poets in all corners of the borough getting involved in our “Write Across Waltham Forest” project, we have an array of hand-picked locally-made short films to be given the screening they deserve, not to mention a couple of chances for some of our dancers to be among the first to perform around the brand new fountain’s water jets… We’re also supporting crafters and designers who haven’t been able to trade in markets during lockdown, whilst spotlighting local food and drink suppliers every weekend. I can’t wait to be in the square at these events and see these things coming together – and this is just the start of the year-round culture to come.”
After this summer’s launch, Fellowship Square will continue to offer a year-round arts and culture programme, drawing on Waltham Forest’s long history of creativity. Fellowship Square will ensure Waltham Forest’s place on London’s culture map and demonstrates the borough’s commitment to the arts. Fellowship Square is named in honour of Waltham Forest’s most famous resident, designer and activist William Morris, whose quote “Fellowship is Life” is memorialized on Walthamstow Assembly Hall, adjacent to the town hall building. Recent works on the town hall have enabled the restoration of some of its original features from the 1930s. The improvements allow for it to become a modern, sustainable and inclusive workplace for council staff whilst also making it a more welcoming and accessible place to visit for local residents, with cafes and shared workspaces open to the public.
Learn more at https://www.walthamforest.gov.uk/.