A bright star in the East

Mile End, arts Mecca? Strange but true, says Jennifer Rodger
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FOR THE URBAN sun starved, London's East End will be a haven this coming solstice. Tomorrow, the bleak view of Mile End Park will vanish as it hosts Artsparkle, a month of art installations, performance acts and live music events. More than 10 years in the making, it forms part of the regeneration of Mile End Park. And with a recent bid to the Millennium Commission accepted, Artsparkle is a taste of what could be a permanent Artspark in Mile End.

The broad sketch, which began with locals discussing the parks regeneration back in 1985, incorporates five themes: fun, play, art, ecology and sport. At Artsparkle it means imaginative interpretations, with sights including a giant walk-in inflatable and kinetic sculpture, school children erecting installations, a windmill that generates electricity and a performance of Shakespeare by toddlers from the Uechi Ryu Karate Club.

Over the next four weeks, open workshops will be held by local artists. And, whether walked-in, played upon, or interacted with, the art can be viewed as both highly enjoyable and accessible.

The artists involved either live or work in the East End (which boasts the largest number of working artists in Europe). One of the installations is Park Dreams, a huge moving sculpture lit up at night with projected images of EastEnders, and a video installation by Japanese-born Kumiko Shimizu which interprets Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream using wood sculpture.

"We hope that Artsparkle shows community arts at a very high level," says Ann Elliot, arts policy co-ordinator for Mile End Park's regeneration. "We don't want it to be in competition with some of the excellent galleries and museums in the area. We want it to be the people's place."

For further information, call 0171-377 0481. Independent readers who produce a copy of today's paper will be given two tickets for the price of one during the second week, 29 June to 5 July. (Admission pounds 6.50/pounds 4.50 concessions)