Review: ELCAF 2015
ELCAF is an important fixture on the independent arts festival circuit, showcasing top creative talent from all over the UK and Europe in London’s East end.
For the past four years, illustration enthusiasts, indie comic addicts and eager students have swarmed the event, taking advantage of the countless opportunities to participate in workshops, attend talks and meet thieir favourite makers.
In short, ELCAF is an annual must; awash with floods of handmade wares and carefully crafted illustrated products it would take a very stoic being to leave the event empty-handed.
It might have been the immediate sight of chefs cooking food on BBQ grills, or perhaps seeing London folk with beers in their hands at noon – but I was immediately hit with a sense of atmosphere; a feeling that I was about to unearth some buried treasure lurking in this creative catacomb.
Descending into ELCAF felt like you were being swallowed up by creativity; the further down the slope I ventured the higher the walls became – banners and flags towered above illuminated the artists.
Illustrator Jack Teagle
I’m just a few steps in the door before I spot a huge, awe inspiring collection of work by creative heavyweights – including Jonathan Edwards, Felt Mistress, Nick White, Tiny Pencil and Lesley Barnes, before being whisked into the heart of the festival, £20 down and clutching on to a stack of collected art swag, moving with the current.
Visitors browsed freely, and there was little or no danger of getting elbows to face or the sigh-inspiring back pack wearer turning around and knocking all your goodies over.
For a festival that has been running for 4 years I did wonder if it might be hard to avoid that danger of getting stale – yet evidently it is not a problem for Nobrow, the overall ambiance seemed so comfortable that it was almost like you were walking around a car boot fair or a street market in the east end, it encapsulated a feeling of familiarity with the situation that you felt you could comfortably chat with the stall holders, barter with them if you felt cheeky enough. It didn’t have an overhanging pretentious art smell but instead made you feel you were in a secret underground record sale.
Ambience aside, the range of creative talent this year seemed so diverse, in both experience and style, that you could have held ELCAF in a garden shed and still managed to make an amazing show.
With illustration greats like Supermundane, Cachete Jack, Nous Vous, Isabel Greenberg, Kristyna Baczynski, WJC, Joe Decie, Jack Teagle, Donya Todd and so so many more!, it was like having a whole illustration catalogue under one roof!
Needless to say, I left ELCAF without a penny and, looking at the countless ELCAF ‘art swag’ tweets on the train home, I don’t think there was many who did.
Words and Photography by Aidan Saunders