WORDS NOT WALLS, TEXT BASED PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION, Turkey Street Station, Photography by Kazimir Bielecki, 2021

Words Not Walls is a public art exhibition that connects us to our neighbours, our community and hopefully, to ourselves.

My name is Lennie Varvarides, I am a local Enfield resident, Text-Based Artist and the Founder of DYSPLA, an arts studio producing the work of Dyslexic and Neurodivergent Creatives, which I run with Moving Image Artist and Creative Director, Kazimir Bielecki. We both identify as being Neurodivergent and passionately believe that art is the most powerful form of activism.

During lockdown we, like most, had time on our hands to reevaluate not only how we are going to survive the global pandemic, but also how we are going to use this time as an opportunity to live differently. Lockdown instigated the need to feel more connected emotionally and physically and that meant reframing the meaning of ‘work’ and ‘home’. These conversations with Kazimir and myself during Lockdown 2020, formed the seeds for our new Arts Council funded project entitled, Words Not Walls, an innovative and ambitious street gallery experience.

The ethos of the public installation is to inject a feeling of creativity in places and people who do not regularly engage with art and culture. Local artists Shey Press was commissioned to design the typography and the art work for the Words Not Walls project, after we came across his own public art around Enfield.

DYSPLA Garden: Mural by local artist Shey Press, Photograph by Kazimir Bielecki, 2021

As the old proverb explains, “charity begins at home”, so it made sense that we should begin campaigning for more arts on our streets by starting with our own home. We have literally turned our home into a public art installation with a giant mural, photography and digital text. This might seem quite an extreme reframing of what ‘home’ means, but the creative benefits of turning our door step into a gallery experience, instantly provide creative dividends for the whole community.

Poetry, has quite literally taken over our streets and we are so grateful to everyone who made this project possible. There are a total of 5 buildings across Turkey Street Ward, Enfield Wash, and Enfield Highway for pedestrians to seek out and enjoy, all made possible by Honilands Primary School, our local Enfield North Labour MP, Enfield Council, Arriva Rail London and Transport for London.

Artwork by Shey Press, photography by Kazimir Bielecki

The private view took place on Saturday 18th September 2021 in the form of a poetry trail that started at Albany Park with local Guest Poet, Cheryl Moskowitz reading from her latest book and an informal model making workshop designed by, Think With Card and led by Diversity Lab.

Artwork by Shey Press, Photograph by Kazimir Bielecki

The majority of the poetry was written by 10 children aged 7–10 years old from Honilands Primary School, that I developed and curated during a six week after school poetry club last summer. I’m proud to say that every single child now sees themselves as a poet…hopefully, for the rest of life.

The goal was to make art accessible to all people as well as to normalise it in public places. Why can’t a street in our neck of the woods be an artistic happening? Why shouldn’t it be just as normal to see art here, as it is to witness the abuse of litter on our streets? Do we not deserve beauty because this is a low income area? I think we deserve it more and need it just as much as Southgate, Palmers Green, Cockfosters, Winchmore Hill, and Enfield Town.

WORDS NOT WALLS Poetry Trail 2021, Photograph by Kazimir Bielecki, Honilands Primary School

People are indirectly becoming part of the tapestry of the art work they pass while getting on with their day. They are no longer just pedestrians, they are participants every time they engage in reading the poetry. Every person can have a positive impact on their environment and in their own home. We can all make where we live a more beautiful place and it doesn’t have to cost a thing. It’s simple really. It starts with saying, “ hello” — a simple word that starts new conversations. This art project has us all talking now. Art does that and while we are all talking, everyday people walking their dog, or taking their kids to school, or going to work, are engaging with art and reading micro poems in places where there is usually no artistic stimulation.

WORDS NOT WALLS Poetry Trail 2021, Photograph by Kazimir Bielecki, Honilands Primary School

It’s an odd site to see a pedestrian stop in their tracks and have a personal reflective moment with the Text-based artwork. But it is happening and when it does, I feel proud to have curated something that connects strangers not only to other people but to themselves too.

Nothing to this scale has ever happened before on this side of the A10. Our street are spectacular for the first time and it’s not the litter on the floor that people are looking at, its the art on the walls. We plan to keep all the work up for as long as possible so that every pedestrian has the opportunity to enjoy the experience.

We hope to turn our garden into a regular outdoor art gallery and welcome Neurodivergent creatives to get in touch about exhibiting their work in the DYSPLA Garden. To get involved in the next rendition of Words Not Walls, either as an artist or a partner, please contact us.

By Lennie Varvarides, Sept 2021
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