Have you checked out Walthamstow’s new Fellowship Square yet? Just unveiled this week, with its scrubbed-up Grade II-listed Town Hall, it looks pretty awesome, even under stormy July skies. And it makes a nice spot to sit with a sandwich, as we did the other day, on one of the new benches by the water.
The new public space is named in tribute to borough-born designer William Morris, and is the next stage of the legacy of 2019’s London Borough Of Culture status. As for the name itself? It’s inspired by the Morris quote that graces the front of the Assembly Hall: ‘Fellowship is life, and the lack of fellowship is death.’
Unbelievably, Fellowship Square itself is bigger than Trafalgar Square – a great local factoid, don’t you think? The centrepiece is a new water feature with 144 individual jets that can be illuminated with multi-coloured lights and programmed to move with music; it’s also more sustainable and cost-effective than the previous one.
On the eastern side is a cute coffee stall which also sells snacks, coffee and sarnies. And best of all, a whole programme of summer events running every summer weekend until Saturday 14 August, incorporating an array of music, comedy, poetry, art, crafts, food and fashion.
The public opening of Fellowship Square takes place on Thursday 15 July when local children will unveil the contents of a time capsule placed under the stairs of the town hall in 1938. They’ll replace it with a capsule of their own not set be unearthed until the year 2121 for future generations to discover, linking the borough’s past, present, and future.
Curious about the back story of the Town Hall? Its distinctive art deco-influenced design took four years to complete because of WWII, and was only completed in 1942. Original architect Philp Dalton Hepworth won a competition to design the building with his “stripped classical” vision, and it was officially opened by Walthamstow West MP and former Prime Minister Clement Atlee as part of the celebrations for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
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Fellowship Square: What’s on Summer 2021
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.
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 on Hoe Street) 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.
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…
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 (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 local talent Adreena Leanne, Mo Gallacio, Khaled Hakim, Lemzi, Paul McGrane and Patrick Evans.
Art installation Distant Fellowship (17 July – 15 August) 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.
For more info on Fellowship Square see Waltham Forest’s website
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