The secrets of Eel Pie Island

Eel Pie Island – what a fabulous name!

Until last weekend I confess to not actually knowing anything about Eel Pie Island or of its very existence.  But Eel Pie Island is indeed a real place.

Located in the middle of the River Thames at Twickenham, this small private piece of land of about 9 acres is home to about 120 people and is accessed  via a pedestrian bridge or by boat only.  It stands on the Twickenham riverside ‘mainland’ with only the impressive river fronted homes and boat yard to be seen between the trees.

Although invited, walking over the foot bridge it feels like we’re entering a forbidden, secret world and following the path very soon we are ‘behind the scenes’ and hidden from public view in the depths of the islands uncharted interior!

Twenty six or so artists known collectively as the Eel Pie Island Art Studios work on the island and twice a year they open their studios to the public.  Nestled amongst the boat sheds, with their rickety doors open, the studios form a labyrinth of brick and wooden sheds, portacabins and lean-to’s.  Surrounded by collected materials of every kind and washed up cast-offs from the outside world, it creates a forest of wonder, a magical place of artistic potential and creativity.  The studios festooned in the December twilight with fairy lights and Christmas decorations contain treasures of makes.  Ceramics, paintings, prints, sculpture and with a festive mulled wine in hand we wander and explore.  This is a surreal, beautiful, cluttered and crazy world but with an ambiance of calm, is peaceful and spiritually tranquil.  I can see the attraction of working here.  This is the perfect place to loose yourself in creativity.

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