It was a rainy night in Peckham, the lights were all a-twinkle and in our little corner of Peckham Springs – Wildfire Gallery launched! The moment finally arrived, and I found myself standing in front of a packed room, delivering my opening speech and officially starting this fantastic, mad journey.
And what a launch it was! That’s right, sorry everyone but if you missed it, you missed out. It was such a magical night, and we had a fantastic turnout. There were friends I had seen only the week before, and friends that I hadn’t seen in many years. It was thrilling to welcome many faces I didn’t recognise too – people who had stumbled upon us and decided to come and check us out. The atmosphere was full of love, laughter, chatter and a joyous, palpable excitement filled the room.

A highlight of the evening includes a really special performance of a poem by the talented actress Isobel Eadie, written by my dear friend Olivia Rosenthall. I first saw the piece performed a few months prior, and I was over the moon to have it performed at the launch. The poem is really powerful in its own right, but in Isobel’s hands it becomes masterful – her performance was as electrifying as the first time I saw it. This was followed by a Q&A with Isobel and Olivia. Wildfire is all about giving artists a platform, and it was a joy to give such a piece of work a platform again, and help bring it to more viewers.

Next up was a Q&A session featuring some of the artists working with the project this year; Hannah Place, Holly Foy-Roberts and Stephen Foy-Philp. It was so important that I got to show off the wonderful talents that are involved in the project. The reception was incredible and the crowd were wonderful.
I will admit, the evening becomes a true blur of conversations after that. I found myself pulled from one friend to another, congratulations and salutations.  I could not have hoped for a better reception, atmosphere and send-off to start the wildfire gallery tour.
I said all the thanks I think I could muster on the night, but want to take the opportunity to express my thanks again! I cannot begin to express my admiration for all the artists working with the project – this night was all about you, because without you, none of this is possible.
Thank you also to all those who made the journey, to support wildfire gallery and the artists and collaborators who have made this project possible (the keenly felt, but fully understandable, absence of friend & designer Jessica Dursley notwithstanding). Special thanks goes out to Irene, Mignon, Nikki and Ocean for all your help setting up the event on the night. I’d wildly underestimated how much of a fiddle it would be to erect 10 easels all at the right height, but you can count on artists to know how to get the job done quickly! So thank you, not just for the easel construction, but for all your help in keeping me sane!

This project has taken work to get where it is, and there is much harder work to come to get us where we want to be. Following dreams is never easy, but when you get nights like this, all the stress, all the self-doubt, all the work, all the sweat (and even 5 hour drives home because of traffic!) and all the frantic phone calls are not only worth it, they make it all the sweeter. Whoever you are, whatever you’re dreaming-up, it is possible, it can happen. Sometimes those dreams might feel too hard, too out of reach – but I promise you, you can do it, and in my case at least, you won’t believe just how many people will be there to support you, to cheer you on, to help you and to celebrate with you when you have a victory. This launch was a victory, for the project, for the artists, for me. However, the hard work starts now…

Keep your eyes peeled for our first venue announcement!