Brand new creative hub in Coventry receives final funding boost

The Daimler Powerhouse, a new £2.5million creative hub currently in development in Coventry, received a final funding boost from Arts Council England this month. Led by Imagineer, the purpose- built Daimler Powerhouse Creation Centre will focus primarily on outdoor arts and play an integral part in supporting the UK City of Culture 2021.
The £150,000 funding from Arts Council England will ensure state of the art infrastructure is embedded within the building including music and sound facilities, Aerial facilities including a Vertical Dance Wall as well as essential IT and construction equipment.

In addition to this new funding, the redevelopment is funded through £1.9 million from the Cultural Capital Investment Fund which is resourced from Coventry City Council and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal.
The Wigley Group, which owns Sandy Lane Business Park and are undertaking the development work, is contributing an additional £350,000 to enable the project to proceed as well as agreeing a highly-discounted 20-year lease on Daimler Powerhouse, as well as a neighbouring building, as part of the redevelopment. Additional funding has been raised from The Foyle Foundation, Medwell- Hyde, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The May 29 th 1961 Charitable Trust.


The building will provide much needed and dedicated fully accessible spaces for the production of outdoor and site-specific work becoming part of a network of growing national and international creation centres.


As well as providing a home for Imagineer’s innovative education and training programmes aimed at young people and people with disabilities, The Daimler Powerhouse will also be home to five resident companies Imagineer, Highly Sprung, Media Mania, Open Theatre and Talking Birds.
Jane Hytch, Chief Executive of Imagineer said: “This funding from Arts Council England is fantastic news, the final piece in the funding jigsaw to make this new centre for creative excellence a reality!
Work continues apace on the building and it is so heartening in these difficult times to be creating space for future generations of artists and creative engineers. It is wonderful to see the building, which has a history of excellence, coming to life again.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England: “We are delighted to provide this final piece of funding to help restore the Daimler Building back to its former glory, and to be investing in a state of the art space for Imagineer and other Coventry artists to create in. Thank you to the National Lottery and its players for making this funding possible.
“As Coventry enters its year as City of Culture in 2021, places like the Daimler Powerhouse will play a crucial role in nurturing the talent that the city has to offer, as well as providing moments that will amaze people and cement Coventry’s place on the map.”


The Daimler Building was once a centre of excellence, the first car factory in Britain. Now it will be a creative centre of excellence combining art, environment, engineering and social change.

To find out more about the history of the building and following development follow:
Twitter – @ImagineerUK
Facebook- @imagineerpod
Instagram – @imagineeruk

Shop Front Theatre puts words centre stage Five new commissions, part of Humanistan

Image credit: Andrew Moore

Five Coventry city-based poets will put their words centre stage at the Shop Front Theatre from October through to February 2021 with a series of new commissions, funded through Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund, enabling Theatre Absolute to continue to provide essential support to independent artists.

Commissioned as part of Theatre Absolute’s two-year project Humanistan, which was paused earlier in the year due to COVID-19, Shahnaz Akhter, Laura Nyahuye, Andrea Mbarushimana, Lanaire Aderemi and Raef Boylan have responded to the project’s central provocation with new work which will be exhibited in the Shop Front Theatre windows. The monthly exhibitions allow for a safe, physically distant experience whilst also connecting people through culture which is at the heart of Theatre Absolute’s practice.

Shahnaz Akhter’s work is the first to appear in the Shop Front Windows. Having just gained her PHD from the University of Warwick, Shahnaz’s work looks at the discourse of British Muslims. She comments “Writing about non-mainstream voices, both within my PHD and within my playwriting is something that I am very passionate about.” Her words will be exhibited at the Shop Front throughout October.

Chris O’Connell, Artistic Director Theatre Absolute said: “We’re really pleased to be able to feature five Coventry based poets over the next five months, and present their words to people through our Shop Front Theatre windows. We asked each of them to respond in their own way to our Humanistan provocation and we are looking forward to sharing their work. These poems are for the people of Coventry (and beyond if you are able to stroll past the Shop), because we are one, and now more than ever we should support artists and our community, and aim to connect, inspire and bring people together through sharing culture.”

Humanistan takes inspiration from the thoughts on nation and society from writers such as Benjamin Zephaniah, Francois Matarasso and Ben Okri. The definition of ‘istan’ means land, country, of place. In that case, Humanistan means Human Country – a place we all belong to, but can find it hard to spend as much quality time in as we’d like. The idea behind Theatre Absolute’s provocation is to create a critical mass of work that forges meaningful connections, challenges division and isolation in society, and celebrates our humanity.

The Humanistan programme returns in full from 2021 with a poetry performance by Stephen Lightbown at the Shop Front Theatre in March, to be followed by performances of new work by Theatre Absolute’s own Chris O’Connell in June, and Sharron Devine in the Autumn. The full programme will be shared via theatreabsolute.co.uk and regularly updated in line with Government guidelines.

The commissions for the Shop Front Theatre windows will be on display from mid-October through to February 2021, with a different poet’s work featuring each month. Find out what’s coming up with Theatre Absolute and the Shop Front Theatre via twitter @theatreabsolute and the website: www.theatreabsolute.co.uk

The displays will run as follows:

October
Shahnaz Akhter – Shahnaz has just gained her PHD from the University of Warwick, her work looked at the discourse of British Muslims. She comments “Writing about non-mainstream voices, both within my PHD and within my playwriting is something that I am very passionate about. Theatre especially, provides a medium to tell stories of past and current events which are not always heard and brings these to life. I discovered Theatre Absolute through Coventry Peace Week and a phone call later found myself sitting near the windows, discussing writing for a scripted reading on a piece called The Stranger. Working with Julia and Chris helped inspire a love of play writing, and I am currently working on a piece inspired from an @38 session on mental health, which is an important for the body as any other kind of health.

November
Laura Nyahuye – Laura was born and raised in Zimbabwe.  She lives in Coventry. Laura is an Artist, Storyteller, Creative writer, Community worker and Activist.  Laura recently had a solo exhibition at Belgrade theatre (I MIGRATED an exhibition echoing the voices of migrant women, challenging perceptions using handcrafted Adornments…) During Refugee Week (2018) Laura curated an Art Event, (FUSION) with local and international artists and performers taking part. 

Laura makes unique handcrafted Adornments that address issues such as Migration, Women’s issues, Community issues, Marginalisation, Tokenism.   Her work challenges perceptions surrounding these subjects. Her adornments are a means of communication.  They carry a message of Hope and Freedom. Laura’s aim is to touch lives and shout….. ‘You are not alone, you can make it….you will make it!

Her work is driven by her love and passion to see Humans connect.

December
Andrea Mbarushimana –
Andrea has been published in two chapbooks ‘The Africa in my House’ from Silhouette Press and the V20 competition winning ‘Air Show’. A headliner in the UK and Ireland, Andrea’s poem ‘For My Husband’ recently featured nationally in the BBC Upload festival. She is in the current cohort of the Room 204 mentoring programme with Writing West Midlands. You can find out more at www.andrea-mbarushimana.com

January
Lanaire Aderemi – Lanaire is a playwright , poet and performer. Her work mainly explores the politics of memory whilst challenging the marginalisation of Black women’s voices, histories and stories. She graduated from the University of Warwick with a 1st Class in Sociology and the Best Dissertation in her department in 2020 and is currently on the Warwick MA Writing Programme.

Lanaire has years of experience mixing poetry with music to create powerful stories and multidisciplinary work. This experimental approach alongside her research in Black feminist, specifically, Yoruba oral tradition(s) has inspired the creation of productions like ‘an evening with verse writer’ (Tristan Bates, 2018), (Coventry Shop Front Theatre, 2019), (Warwick Arts Centre, 2019) which pushes the boundaries of storytelling, poetry and music. This play also won the Shoot Festival Artist Development Award in 2019.

Central to Lanaire’s work is re(imagining) community and creativity through various artistic mediums. Through her collaborative EP ‘Ancient History’ with rapper King Solomon, Lanaire blended spoken word with singing and lo-fi rap. She has also worked with communities in Coventry to celebrate unique stories. In 2018, she was one of 30 artists in Coventry selected by the Coventry City of Culture Trust to produce a commissioned poem for #HumansofCov. In 2020, she was commissioned by BBC Coventry for their #makeadifference campaign and recently wrote and voiced part of an audio play for ‘The Future Show’.

Her poetry film ‘change your style’ explores the hair journey(s) of Black women around the world whilst combining childhood songs with monologues from research she conducted in hair shops. She also shared her developing practice of mixing songs, chants and poetry through dialogical activations at the Tate Modern’s ASSEMBLY – a programme that explored protest and autonomy to 1500 young people. Lanaire can be found on @lanaire_aderemi on social media.

February
Raef Boylan Raef Boylan was born and matured (sort of) in Coventry, and wanted to be a writer from the age of five. He predominantly writes poetry – for both page and performance – and short stories, with a focus on social realism; but is also interested in stage drama and other forms. Over the years, he has won first prize in the CU Short Story Award and the inaugural Frederick Holland Poetry Collection Award, and was shortlisted for The Big Issue Short Fiction Award. Alongside this, he has had work published in various magazines/anthologies. Raef is keen to keep people engaged with Coventry’s literary scene – he’s had involvement with publisher Silhouette Press, organises local poetry night ‘Fire & Dust’ and is lead editor of Here Comes Everyone magazine.He really hopes investing his whole life into the written word pays off, otherwise he’s screwed.

@theatreabsolute | @shopfrontcov | #humanistan | theatreabsolute.co.uk

Photo Miners appoint a new Advisory Board as they plan for the future.

Coventry’s Photo Miners today announced the appointment of a new Advisory Board to support preparations for Coventry City of Culture 2021, and the organisation’s longer term future.

Photo Miners is a Community Interest Company set up in 2016 to help communities share their stories using photography. Over the past four years, they have developed a strong reputation for creating high impact exhibitions and adventurous activities that empower local communities.

Major projects have included the Masterji exhibition and book, Tale of Two Streets (viewed across 8 different venues and with a reach of 500K), Humans of Coventry (in partnership with Coventry City of Culture 2021) and Imagine Willenhall and Imagine Bedworth; two hyper local exhibitions about place and belonging.

Photo Miner Mark Cook explained why appointing an advisory board is such an important step right now:

“The three directors or Photo Miners have always had the intention of seeking advice and support from critical friends. The Covid crisis has given us, and everyone else, extra challenges. However, our Art Council England emergency funding has given us a chance to create our advisory board. The eight people we have chosen will support us in uncertain times. They will help us create a provoking and relevant programme for 2021, and they will ensure that 2021 leaves a legacy of greater public access and use of archive and new photography in creative ways.

We are planning an ambitious programme of exhibitions, interventions and community led creative activity for 2021. Our new board will support us to find and use venues, funding for activities and the development of the organisation to enable us to collaborate with communities, volunteers, freelancers and other organisations to put Coventry on the map.

We are faced with challenges creating indoor and outdoor exhibitions during Covid, so we are developing our capacity to create online exhibitions and improve our digital resources. We hope we can use these resources and new skills to reach wider audiences when we are able to use physical spaces again.

Director Ben Kyneswood added:

The eight board members have a wide range of backgrounds and expertise and will act as critical friends offering guidance on the development of our future programmes and encouraging us to see and think in new and different ways.”

Photo Miner, Jason Tilley told us:

“We were thrilled at the number of candidates who responded to our call out for advisory board members. It’s fantastic to see so many people, from an array of backgrounds and with strong local connections, invested in connecting with Photo Miners and the work we do in the wider community. I look forward to our first Zoom meeting and starting work on some exciting new projects.”

The new appointees on Photo Archive Miners advisory board are PhD researcher Eleanor Cook, arts manager Philippa Cross, PhD researcher Emily Hopkins, cultural development specialist Clare Mitchell, archivist and photo historian Jim Ranahan, award winning photographer Nicola Young, Community Embedded Producer Kim Hackleman & ex Coventry Mayor and experienced photographer Tony Skipper.

Eleanor Cook told us:

“I am delighted to be selected for the Photo Miners Board as I am particularly interested in how photographic collections can bring out the hidden stories of communities who are traditionally excluded from the historical record.”

Clare Mitchell said:

Photo Miners commitment to making ‘real’ the concept of public art and engagement is inspirational.  Their work effortlessly elevates personal, private and community owned archives, amplifies and celebrates local voices, and enables our communities to see themselves as relevant and influential stakeholders in the often elusive world of ‘The Arts’. Helping us all to see ‘the public’ in ‘public art practice’”

Photo Miners are currently working on projects with Arts Council England, Coventry Archives, Coventry City of Culture Trust and Coventry University.

Find out about these projects and more on the Photo Archive Miners website: https://photomining.org

Photo Credit:

Pictured above: Jim Ranahan (top left), Eleanor Cook (top middle), Kim Hackleman (top right), Emily Hopkins (middle left), Clare Mitchell (middle right), Nicola Young (bottom left), Philippa Cross (bottom middle), Tony Skipper (bottom right).

Coventry Biennial presents OTOLITH 1

Coventry Biennial will be presenting OTOLITH 1 by The Otolith Group in the Chapter House at Coventry Cathedral from 14th until the 20th August 2020.

The Otolith Group

The Otolith Group, Otolith 1, 2003. Courtesy: Arts Council Collection.
©The Artists. Commissioned by MIR Consortium / The Arts Catalyst

OTOLITH 1, a film-essay made by The Otolith Group in 2003, originally commissioned by MIR Consortium and The Arts Catalyst, is now a part of the Arts Council Collection.

Made of historical, found and newly shot footage, conflating fact and fiction, OTOLITH 1 weaves personal and public histories together to explore future female identities and separation. These themes relate to our wider research while also resonating with the impacts of Covid-19.

Kodwo Eshun, the group’s co-founder alongside Anjalika Sagar, was affiliated with the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit at University of Warwick, highlighting another point of intersection with the research the team at Coventry Biennial are carrying out ahead of HYPER-POSSIBLE.

Ahead of this short exhibition, they have published the third in their series of communiqués, which is available to read, download and share from here.

Included in this issue is a new text by one of Coventry Biennial curator and director Michael Pigott and they are pleased to be able to share a section of Holger Schulze’s recent book Sonic Fiction which explores the aims, interests and work of The Otolith Group.

Ryan Hughes, Director of Coventry Biennial says of The Otolith Group:

“The Otolith Group are one of the most exciting collaborative practices working today. They have a huge commitment around working with other artists, academics, writers, musicians and actors creating an expanded knowledge base for each of their projects which have been shown in galleries, museums, festivals and biennials around the world. Kodwo Eshun, one of the co-founders of the group was affiliated with the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit at the University of Warwick in the 1990s and the work that The Otolith Group makes feels very ‘Coventry’ – you can glimpse the past and the future simultaneously.”

Ryan Hughes says of the artwork:

Otolith 1 is one of the earliest artworks that The Otolith Group made together. It’s a short science fiction film-essay that blurs fact and fiction and explores how conversations might unfold across generations through the media that we produce and leave behind. The work touches on themes of protest, global feminism, race and cultural history all of which are key ideas that will resonate throughout HYPER-POSSIBLE, the 3rd Coventry Biennial which will open in multiple venues in October 2021.”

Please note that they can only accommodate 8 visitors per time slot to the exhibition to allow for physical distancing. You’ll be asked to wear a face mask while in the exhibition and to leave your name and contact details as you arrive.

Booking in advanced is essential using this link

 

Meanwhile at Shop Front Theatre

The owners of Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre have opened an exhibition of their own work responding to the current crisis.

Theatre Absolute - Meanwhile. Pic by Andrew Moore.

During this unprecedented time, where local arts and connections within the community have become more important than ever, Theatre Absolute have reflected and responded, bringing their collaborative and supportive approach to artists, writers and the communities of Coventry and beyond.

Throughout the initial lockdown Julia Negus (Producer/Artist), Chris O’Connell (Artistic Director/Writer) and Lisa Franklin (Project Co-ordinator/Performer) each created new artwork for the Shop Front Theatre windows, in part allowing themselves to respond to the crisis as artists and performers and in part to support their own well-being through the process of creativity. The window exhibition titled ‘Meanwhile’ is now on display and provides a new perspective for passers-by as they begin to return to the city centre in Coventry.

Theatre Absolute - Meanwhile. Photography by Andrew Moore.

Supported by funds from Arts Council England and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation the company have also been developing other initiatives. Recognising the difficulties for young people, particularly college leavers and new graduates, to be able to make sense of the impact of the crisis as they start their careers in the creative sector, Theatre Absolute are providing on going zoom and mentoring sessions.

Producer Julia Negus commented: “It’s an opportunity for young people to share their hopes and fears for what next, to talk about their ambitions and where possible, we’re able to support and network them to local professional opportunities.”

Theatre Absolute - Meanwhile. Photo by Andrew Moore.

The company have also been running a series of micro commissions and an online programme of writing sessions as part of their City Voices writing development work in partnership with City of Culture Trust. The sessions explore different genres of writing and have guest writers attending such as the playwright Liz Mytton and poet Liz Berry. These sessions are supported by Coventry writers Alexandra Johnson and Joshua Leach, both helping to create and lead work.

Another writers’ initiative is Theatre Absolute’s new partnership with Ola Animashawun – a dramaturg who runs Euphoric Ink and also works at the National Theatre, London. Both Chris and Ola are offering one-to-one sessions for writers of all levels who may want some direct feedback on plays they have in progress.

As lockdown eases, Theatre Absolute have also offered their Shop Front Theatre to artists to experiment with text and narrative in their Theatre Labs. Artist Jessica Timms comments: “I recorded an audio for a Mothers on the Mic / Spork! Podcast while I was there… I also produced a short art book which has enabled me to start to develop a narrative I am continuing to work on. I was delighted to have this time and space to explore in this special setting.”

Chris O’Connell at Theatre Absolute added: “The creative sector is facing huge demands and with the recent government support, there is a tangible sense of relief for some. Our goal here at Theatre Absolute, as always, is to reach out, connect and support where we can, and in doing so continue to demonstrate the positive impact smaller theatres and organisations can have for the future of theatre and the wider arts ecology.”

Keep in touch with Theatre Absolute and the Shop Front Theatre via twitter @theatreabsolute and the website: www.theatreabsolute.co.uk

Theatre Absolute - Meanwhile. Photograph by Andrew Moore.

Images credit: Andrew Moore

Collecting Coventry – celebrating the city’s rich history

Collecting Coventry is a project organised by Coventry University to tell the story of the city. A team from the uni have plans to digitise the year of the City of Culture, but they want to go beyond 2021 which will become another step in the city’s rich history. The team are now working on a digital archive of Coventry’s past by working with arts organisations and artists from across the city. It will enable people to more easily explore the past, make connections and deepen their understanding of the practices that create a city. 

The team from the uni are calling out to artists and arts organisations from across Coventry to contribute towards this archive – whether their practice is current or historical.  

To find out more and register your interest, email Adele at digitalarchivescov@gmail.com.

CollectingCoventryflyer (1)

“Quinn: A Journey” at The Herbert Gallery

It was only just over a week and a half ago, pre UK Lockdown we got along to visit ‘Quinn: A Journey’ at The Herbert – an exhibition by award winning photographer Lottie Davis. On viewing this we were oblivious to how the following 10 days were to unfold. Looking back through the pictures we took during our visit, the exhibition feels even more moving and poignant than ever.

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‘Quinn’ takes you on an immersive journey through a series of moving image works, photography, audio/visual pieces plus an insight into this fictional character’s life through an installation of his living space, thoughts and personal belongings.

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As we meandered around the large-scale screens we joined him on his lonely journey across deserted British landscapes from South West England to Northern Scotland. The setting of his story is post-war Britain, responding to the trauma that people experienced – was this a worrying premonition of what’s to come?

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Even though his story is fictional, the work responds to the real-world experiences of trauma in the early 20th century and now. The works reflect on grief, isolation, loss and ironically the human search for meaning and the hunt for salvation by stripping back to our natural world and environment.

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Beautifully curated by Dr Rachel Marsden, and produced by Elizabeth Wewiora and Charlie Booth, we hope that if the current crisis blows over, we may get to view this again. Next time it will be with a whole new set of eyes, and greater appreciation for the harrowing themes that it explores.

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Contemporary Coventry Visual Artists opening a joint show for International Women’s Day

Coventry based artists Sherrie Edgar and Tarla Patel will be opening a joint exhibition at The Albany Theatre on 12th March to mark International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

JPEG Albany Theatre Exhibtion Invite March 2020

All are welcome to join them on the opening night from 5:30pm on 12th March where there will be exclusive film screenings and an installation. The exhibition will then run until 14th April.

We ran a live Q&A with Sherrie and Tarla for our February #ArtChatCov to find out a little bit more about what to expect from their forthcoming show, and what has influenced their work. Take a read below.

 

CC: Tell us about your forthcoming exhibition – what is it called and what themes will it explore?

TP: Title: Intergenerational women. It is a personal journey exploring the stories of three generations of women in one space, themes of belonging, identity, culture through the Masterji archives.

ArtChatCov using a sari to create a physical connection

SE: My part, HER Lonely explores women who suffer or have suffered from loneliness and isolation.

 

CC: What artistic medium do you work in?

TP: Currently my main medium is playing with analogue and digital photography and film. I develop my own black/whites and love using Polaroid Originals instant film. For this work I have experimented with textiles and printing on different objects. But I also use 16mm film with a bolex camera, mobile footage and film cameras, I plan to go into AR and electronics.

SE: HER Lonely is a series of photographs and a film with audio recordings.

 

CC: Does the exhibition tie in with International Womens Day?

TP: The work ties in with International Womens Day because it is giving a voice to women’s stories through women artists. A story that explores migration, fear and belonging and hope is something that we can all relate too.

SE: Intergenerational Women and HER Lonely are timely exhibitions IWD2020!

 

CC: How will the exhibition explore inequity within the arts?

SE: HER Lonely focuses on underrepresented women, their inner strength reveals delicate and remarkable artworks.

TP: I think equity in the arts will only change with better representation of women from working class backgrounds: decision making/funding/strategy. Sherrie and I are making ourselves visible with the limited resources.

The exhibition is to give a voice to women, for me a voice of what is to be a woman that has come to live in a country without support of a family to what it is to being British Indian.

SE: Female artists are integral to the arts. Women artists face challenges due to gender bias, we feel systematically excluded.

TP: We would love people to be there for opening night : the Sari, installation, and my films will only be available for that evening – and refreshments will be available!

Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange – OPEN CALL FOR COVENTRY ARTISTS!

The Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange are looking for a Coventry artist to take part in a month long residency in Dresden for September 2020.

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The residency will be a non-prescriptive period to reflect, research and explore art practice in the twin city for one month and to the establish new contacts and deepen established ones, acting as an ambassador for Coventry whilst in Dresden.

The residency will include return flights and accommodation at the cultural center Riesa Efau. A shared studio will also be provided with a Dresden artist plus £100 materials allowance. The residency will culminate in a showcase of work done in Dresden and an open studio.

Regarded as one of the most beautiful of German cities with unrivalled art collections Dresden has for over three centuries been an important centre of art production. As an art and green city and birthplace of European porcelain, art and artistic manufacture the city has been at the vanguard of European art and design and training through the Baroque, Romantic and Expressionistic periods up to the 1930s, which following its major destruction at the end of the Second World War was to some extent off limits for study during the Cold War, and despite unification Dresden has remained neglected.

Dresden is the capital city of Saxony and is a significant cultural centre with an internationally famous Art Academy and world class museums and art galleries.

The residency will include studio visits, art events and gallery visits in Dresden.

This is an Arts Council funded project with support from Class Room, Artspace Partnerships, Dresden City Council, Grafikwerkstatt and Coventry University, Arts and Humanities. Coventry/Dresden Art Exchange has had 10 collaborative exhibitions in both cities since 2012 and in 2017 began this residential exchange programme.

Applicants are requested to submit a 500 word proposal/project/research to be carried out in Dresden on a months residency, with CV, examples of work, website. The proposal should outline a personal programme of enquiry to be carried out in this twin city and the applicants motivation for this programme of work.

Successful applicants will be expected to make a report back at a forum at Class Room on returning to Coventry.

A panel will select a sort list and the successful candidate who will be informed by the end of May 2020. Deadline for applications 1st April.

Applications should be sent to Coventry/Dresden Residency
PO Box 6695, Coventry. CV3 9QZ

Any queries to j.yeadon@icloud.com

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Coventry/Warwickshire Artists – we want to see your work!

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(Painting by Polly Merredew – Artist of the Week Commencing 25th March 2019)

Following our Instagram Takeover with Coventry 2021 City of Culture Trust back in May 2018, we have continued to feature an artist a week, and will until 2021!

Open to all Coventry & Warwickshire artists – for your chance to be featured, simply use the hashtag #CuratingCoventry2021 to images your work on Instagram!

If there is someone who you would like to nominate who may or may not be on Instagram, we’d love to hear about them to so please drop us a direct message to put your nominations forward.

In the meantime, we’d encourage you to explore other Coventry artist’s work using the hashtag on Instagram and celebrate our city’s creative talent!

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(Ceramics artwork by Laurence Curtis – Artist of the Week commencing 22nd July)

Curating Coventry’s 2019 Highlights

As another year draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on our highlights of 2019. We’ve enjoyed some exciting and innovative uses of unconventional spaces, exploring new and unexpected venues from a disused NHS facility to a working allotment site. We’ve enjoyed immersive, interactive experiences where we’ve engaged with modern technologies. We’ve visited live art installations, and enjoyed thought-provoking performance-based work whilst confronting issues surrounding the environment in which we live.

So here’s a pick of some of our favourite moments of 2019:

Shrike by Sherrie Edgar
February 2019

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An invitation landed in our mailbox with a number to text on the 28th February. On the date the details of a room at the Britannia Hotel in Coventry were disclosed and time in which to visit.

In this unique, interactive live-art experience, we explored a site-specific hotel room installation, in which you were invited to take on the persona of the occupant. A video of this character played on the TV as we investigated the room cluttered with a variety of belongings. Hidden warning messages about the effects of loneliness could be found printed on discarded cigarette packets and empty wine bottles. Make up and toiletries littered the bathroom, where messages surrounding isolation were scribbled on the mirror in lipstick. The exhibition raised awareness about the impact of solitude and loneliness, and it’s effects on individuals suffering in society.

 

The Knife Angel by Alfie Bradley
March 2019

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In March the famous Knife Angel sculpture by Alfie Bradley came to Coventry where it resided for a month in front of Coventry Cathedral. The 27ft (8m) sculpture was made from 100,000 blades, which have been handed into police across the country. A giant celestial figure composed of shocking weapons used to damage, and to kill. A bitter-sweet work of art highlighting the scale of this worrying epidemic.

The sculpture drew in crowds from across the city and beyond, uniting people who came to pay tribute to victims of knife crime. Hundreds of messages were left around the sculpture’s surrounding enclosure with flowers from loved ones and friends. A real demonstration on how strongly a piece of public art can move a community.

 

Other Worlds at Arcadia Gallery
April 2019

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Other Worlds was part of the Shoot Festival 2019 programme – a festival created as a platform to showcase Coventry and Warwickshire’s up and coming talent. For the Visual Arts strand of the festival, Shoot teamed with Coventry Artspace. Three artists were selected to be featured in this exhibition, which explored imagined and parallel worlds. The exhibition included textiles, drawing and mixed media and featured:

Michala Gyetvai, who created an abstract, undulating textile based landscape (above).

Michael Snodgrass who’s work featured a large scale post- apocalyptic story using ink on paper drawings (below left).

Chidera Ugada’s mixed media paintings reflected contemporary life in Britain and the ever-increasing bombardment of visual information on citizens (below right).

 

Silent Walls by James Birkin at Classroom Gallery
May 2019

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Coventry-based painter James Birkin’s solo show “Silent Walls” opened at Classroom Gallery on 16th May, and featured as series of oil painting of many familiar derelict buildings from around Coventry and the West Midlands. The paintings explored both the interior and exterior of these abandoned sites, which sensitively paid homage to buildings that were once significant to the town or community, but now lay dilapidated and neglected.

Project Coventry curated by Tara Rutledge at Classroom Gallery & Basement
June 2019

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This one-night pop- up projection-based exhibition explored the on-going rebirth and regeneration of Coventry. It brought together 12 artists with a strong connection to the city, some of whom had never worked with projection before, who were paired with experienced projection artists to make collaborative new artworks in response to this theme.

Image by Tara Rutledge

(Image by Tara Rutledge)

This interactive show allowed the audience the opportunity to become involved with the projections, wearing 3D glasses to view stereoscopic images of the city. Poetry was projected onto live performers, and dark spaces of the basement were occupied with light installations and soundscapes – lots of really unexpected surprises made this a fun, unique and memorable evening.

 

Image credits:
2nd left top – Karen Lawrence
2nd left bottom – Tara Rutledge
Large right-hand – Victoria M

 

Wonder at The Herbert
July 2019

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A surreal, futuristic, immersive exhibition that took you away to a dream-like reality which featured augmented reality, an interactive light installation and animated intricate dolls houses inspired by the underworld of Film Noir. You got to step inside a painting to experience a life-sized 3D landscape, and explore insects and animals from the Herbert’s Natural History collection, brought to life through a series of animations. This was an exhibition that all ages could enjoy, and young ones had great fun engaging with the works.

 

Co-Op(t) Arty Party 2 – Integrate
West Indian Centre and Classroom
September 2019

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(Image by Ellie Ball)

After the success of the Co-Op(t) Arty Party back in March at Fargo Village, Arty Party 2: Integrate promised an even bigger event which spanned over two venues – the West Indian Centre and Classroom Gallery. It showcased visual art exhibitions, digital projections, spoken word, live performances, workshops and DJ sets. The evening featured the work of over 20 artists from across the world whose work, explored the theme of social integration. Many of the work touched on pressing issues surrounding class and race, with some very moving pieces, which celebrated people’s differences and focussed on gaining a stronger sense of solidarity.

(Images by Ashleigh Brown)

Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art
October 2019

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The second Coventry Biennial dominated Coventry’s Visual Arts scene throughout October and November and spanned across 21 venues over the city, featuring a selection of local, national and international artists with work that responded to the theme of “The Twin.” Coventry’s newest arts venue The Row – a disused NHS facility featured the central exhibition for the Biennial, with a diverse collection of works from installation, moving image, sculpture and painting. Some of our favourite Biennial shows included the exhibition at Arcadia where a double-sided suspended screen projected films exploring the passage of time. We also loved the immersive exhibition at the Lanchester Gallery, which featured a panoramic photographic installation and soundscape, digital moving image projections, a strobe-lit sculptural installation and a fictional scenario in which two tribes at opposing political, social and economic positions were attempting to communicate.

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(We’ve been sharing our Biennial Highlights on Instagram, so have a nose at more of our favourites on there). 

The launch of underGROWTH by The Pod at The Pod’s Food Union Allotment
October 2019

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underGROWTH is a series of eco-art micro-residencies designed to confront issues relating to Coventry’s environment: the air we breathe, the trees and weeds lining our streets and our human responses to the city’s ecology.

The launch event was a celebration of Apple Day – a day founded in 1990 which was intended to be both a celebration and a demonstration of the variety we are in danger of losing, not simply in apples, but in the richness and diversity of landscape, ecology and culture too.

Co-curated by Lauren Sheerman and George Ttoouli with The Pod and DIALOGUE the afternoon brought together a series of performances, readings and live music around a campfire, bringing everyone back to appreciate nature. Attendees of all ages enjoyed picking and juicing fresh apples whilst recognising the significance to the themes the day explored.

 

 

 

 

 

Change Festival – Imagine a better, brighter future

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We’re living in times of worry and turmoil, unsure and anxious of what the future holds. Change Festival is coming to Coventry THIS WEEK, and explores ideas that bring hope for a better future for us, and generations to come!

CHANGE Festival arrives at Warwick Arts Centre on 18 – 20 October 2019. This new event, quite unlike any other, brings together world-class shows, talks, comedy and workshops – with the aim to inspire visitors to imagine a better, more positive future for all.

The festival gathers performers, speakers and audiences from the West Midlands and beyond to imagine, play and explore. There will be some familiar faces and new performances enjoy, with over 20 inspirational events to choose from – because we all deserve to feel hopeful about the future.

CHANGE Festival producer Becky Burchell says, “CHANGE Festival will offer a better story about our future. Much of our current popular culture – TV, movies, news, theatre – paints a picture of a bleak, dystopian future where humanity is tearing itself apart. It’s time to tell a different story – one that stretches our dreams and inspires courage and hope. Through this festival we hope to inspire visitors to imagine a better way of living – better communities, better food, better homes for us and the generations to come.”

Highlights of CHANGE Festival include:

  • Premiere of ‘The World We Made’, an urgent new play about our future, set in 2050 and based on environmentalist Jonathon Porritt’s seminal book of the same name.
  • A special comedy evening to ask, ‘What Will Tell Our Grandkids?’ – a hilarious exploration of the conversations we will having in years to come.
  • ‘Soonchild’, a family show by dynamic company Red Earth, tells the story of a shaman who feels out of step with the modern world and sets out on a quest to find the forgotten ‘world songs’, which are essential for the world to exist.
  • An all-female team of 14-17yr Coventry trailblazers have invited a panel of transformational women to share their bold, courageous and motivational stories for ‘MetamorphoSISTER’ – a specially curated event for young audiences. This event is part of Positive Youth Foundation.
  • New discussion series, with speakers from the West Midlands and beyond, will explore ‘Imagine Eating Better’, ‘Imagine Living Better’, ‘Imagine Dressing Better’,  ‘Imagine Better Nature’ and ‘Imagine Feeling Better’ to enlighten and enliven.

For full programme details visit CHANGE Festival

facebook.com/changefestival

#changefestival

 

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Class Room hosts Artist-In-Residence for Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange

John Yeadon, founder of Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange has updated us on the latest residency as part of the initiative, and Class Room Gallery is currently hosting Dresden-based artist Lucas Oertel (www.lucasoertel.de) as artist-in-residence.

This residency will result in an exhibition at the gallery, and the opening night will be on Thursday 3rd of October for a private view between 6-9pm. (All are welcome)!

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Oertel, in his new work aims to offers the viewer his observation that the time we live in again sees war as something of an abstract notion. The marching figures in the installation exhibit a kind of collective pride, which for the artist is the result of the promotion of a new heroism that aims to glamorise warfare. The installation naturally draws the viewer to meditate on the meaning and perhaps to ask the questions of Who are these volunteers? Why have they joined up? 

This is not hard to relate to as here in Britain, posters usually appear during the January blues and near exam result days, advertising that military service and how it can provide an escape to a better life. They perhaps do not inform people of the true nature and reality of what they will be asked to do, they are instead sold a myth through slick and attractive adverts that usually follow a narrative about belonging or being the best. Today we make great tribute to the courage and heroism of those in the past, but for younger generations with no real experience of loss and destruction, it is easy to see warfare as something unreal and distant.

The work that has been made over September, has been constructed from a mixture of debris that Oertel has found during his stay in Coventry. In the studio, he has spent the time processing the materials, painting and constructing. He does not create artworks from working drawing, he slowly works directly onto the wall, creating relationships between the different pieces that he paints. Here the artist spends a lot of his time constructing and arranging the pieces to form the bodies of the figures.

This residency is the beginning of a series of collaborations between the gallery and the Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange. Together we aim to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Coventry’s bond of friendship with Dresden, through creating a series of opportunities that facilitate artists, in both cities, to experiment and develop their practice through both an intense period of making and an involvement in international dialogue.

This will be achieved through a timetable of exhibitions, events and a series of artist in residencies, in Coventry and Dresden, that seek to introduce artists from both cities to each other. This will be the second Dresden artist in residency that Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange has organised. Alexandra Müller was the first artist in residence from Dresden. Müller has been invited and is returning to exhibit in the Biennial.

More details of the Lucas Oertel residency and the Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange can be found at: www.weareclassroom.com

Artist Spotlight: Ryan Hart

This year we’ve been seeing his work popping up in exhibitions all across the city, so we’ve tracked down Coventry-based artist Ryan Hart to find out more about the person behind the striking work we’ve viewed so far. Ryan is about to embark on his second year as a BA Fine Art student at Coventry University and has exhibited 8 times already this year. We’re excited to see what’s next to come!

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We’ve seen you’ve been having a busy year. Where have you exhibited so far in 2019?

It was very busy towards the start of the year but I’ve been giving more time to reading and working lately. I exhibited at Coventry Cathedral for refugee week, St Mary’s guildhall for Women’s week, the Coventry University Drawing Prize, The level 1 Coventry Uni show, Coventry Cathedral for Open Projections, The 2tone Village for my joint show with Japhet Dinganga, St Mary’s guildhall again and Friargate house.

Now that you are entering your second year as a BA Fine Art student, how has your experience been so far at Coventry University?

Uni has been amazing. It’s really helped to refine my work and build my knowledge base and interest in contemporary art. I’ve had some super interesting conversations with my tutors who have pushed me to think more about the details of my work and why I’m making it. Their encouragement has also been a huge part of my growth as an artist and being given Firsts in every module was also really encouraging. It’s exciting to be part of a community of artists all growing together and engaging with these conversations concerning the wider art world and society, it’s both symbiotic and challenging which is always good.

When did you first develop your passion for art?

From as far back as I can remember I was always interested in some form of art, mainly drawing. I’ve come to realise that I really did internalise the encouragement that I received from peers and family, I adopted the label of an ‘artist’ from a young age despite the lack of clarity regarding the meaning and function of an artist, which I still don’t know to this day. I see art as something that flows out from someone in certain circumstances, when certain triggers like reading, seeing, feeling etc result in an internal need for the work to come out. So I feel like it’s always been flowing from me in some way, causing an interest in artists, writers and musicians that speak words or sentences of the same internal language as myself.

How would you describe the work that you create?

I’d say that my work is contemplative and inviting. It offers aesthetic and auditory comfort to the viewer then confronts them with questions that are often avoided. It’s work that is intended to be felt but not always understood, a poetic discussion. It dances in liminal spaces and calls for the engagement of both the intellect and the emotion of those experiencing the work. I’ve never stuck with one medium but have always spoken the same visual/conceptual language through the medium which can speak it the loudest, the best communicator. Most commonly painting, drawing, video and sound.

 

 

What themes do you explore through your work?

I explore themes of obscurity and its effect on thought, contemplation as an effect of obscurity (or vice versa), race politics and POC experience, observations of everyday life, the human condition, familiarity and unfamiliarity, liminal spaces and the conditions which lead to existential questions. These themes are always in conversation with each other throughout my work.

What process do you go through when creating a new piece of work?

It always starts with a lot of messy note taking and reading. I don’t draw as much as I should but when I do it’s always very useful for preliminary drafts and ideas. Immersion in the work is always my best approach so I try not to think about things too much. I make the work then ask questions after as I begin to connect the dots between what I’ve been reading/seeing/thinking and the work that I make. It’s like a form of introspection.

What other artists are you inspired by?

In the world of contemporary Art I’ve been inspired by the work of Anri Sala, Hurvin Anderson, Francis Alys, Michal Rovner, John Akomfrah and Hreinn Fridfinnsson. I recently saw a Fridfinnsson show in Geneva, which really expanded my thinking in relation to the possibilities of Art, he’s an amazing conceptual storyteller. Picasso’s rose period work and the Bauhaus movement has also peaked my interest recently. The Coventry Artist Jack Foster has inspired me a lot in the past couple of years. He changed the way I view painting and art making in general. Really enigmatic work that you kind of get lost in, it’s always been work that has fascinated me for a reason that I don’t yet know.

Have you got any more exhibitions planned this year?

I’m having another group show with some Birmingham artists which should be really cool, their work is all very intriguing. I think it’s in October sometime but will keep updates on my Facebook (Ryan Hart). I also have a collaborative commission with my friend Japhet which will be displayed at a festival later this year. Other than those I’ll probably chill but I can hardly refuse commissions and exhibition opportunities so I’ll see what happens.

 Where can people go to find out more about you?

Facebook: Ryan Hart

Website: Link to be released on Facebook

Email: ryanclhart98@gmail.com

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Imagineer’s Bridge – a new outdoor experience coming soon to Coventry!

The team at Coventry-based production company Imagineer have given us a sneak peek into their exciting project ‘Bridge’ which will be coming to Broadgate in Coventry on 26th – 28th September.

Check out what’s in store…

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(Image credit – Tara Rutledge)

Bridge is an ambitious new outdoor experience produced by Coventry-based Imagineer Productions and created by artistic director Orit Azaz in collaboration with a creative team that includes choreographer Corey Baker, designer Dan Potra, writer Nick Walker, composer Peter Reynolds and circus director Paul Evans.

A beautiful bridge appears in the centre of Coventry, Grantham and Worcester, with a gap where the keystone would be. For three days, it is host to pop-up events and happenings that bring people together in new and playful ways including a free immersive headphones experience which offers people an insight into the meaning of the divided bridge.

On the Saturday evening, the bridge becomes the setting for an extraordinary and memorable outdoor performance. Gravity-defying circus acrobatics, dance, comedy, theatre and live music, inspired by local people’s stories, create a thrilling and moving montage of the courage, compassion, imagination and humour needed to bridge a divide.

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(Image credit – Andrew Moore)

Bridge is rooted in each community in which it is based. Hundreds of local people will make their own bridges and share experiences of bridge-building, in all senses. Using a specially made kit, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s design for a self-supporting bridge, people who wouldn’t normally meet will come together to build a bridge in public spaces in their neighbourhood.

Jane Hytch, Chief Executive Imagineer said: “Bridge takes its inspiration from many different sources, from engineers and artists to people who are bridging social, spiritual and political divides. It is hugely exciting to see the project taking shape with such accomplished engineers, artists, performers and communities.

“At Imagineer we are interested in producing new and extraordinary outdoor work through creative collaborations in order to transform spaces and most importantly for us to build human connections where you might least expect them. Bridge will certainly deliver this as well as creating some unforgettable experiences along the way both for those involved and those who experience Bridge in Grantham, Coventry and Worcester.”

At the centre of the project is a surprising, beautiful and (in engineering terms) almost impossible, broken bridge structure. Sydney based designer Dan Potra (Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018 Opening Ceremony, City of Unexpected 2017) worked alongside structural engineer Neal Fletcher, circus specialist Tarn Aitken, engineers from ARUP and a skilled team of theatrical technicians and fabricators to create a workable design for the bridge.

Imagineer - Bridge. #ImagineBridge. Photo Credit Andrew Moore (1)

(Image credit – Andrew Moore)

The size, scale and specialist requirements of the bridge has resulted in Imagineer creating a pop-up Creation Space – the likes of which did not previously exist in the Midlands – to enable the development of the Bridge performance, which includes high skill aerial and acrobatic circus performed at a height of up to 12 metres. Imagineer’s pop up creation space, with training facilities in a range of unusual circus disciplines including Chinese pole and Cradle, allows the international cast of 9 circus, dance and physical theatre performers and 3 musicians to rehearse and train whatever the weather.

Orit Azaz, Artistic Director for Bridge said: “Bridge has been imagined by artists; created by designers and engineers and inspired by people’s stories, it really is a project for our time and is already bringing people together in unexpected and joyful ways. Bridge is about the gap between two sides – the bit that is broken or unfinished – and the effort, good humour, courage and imagination of people needed to connect across the gap.

“In order to realise the project, Imagineer have created an unprecedented environment for the creation of the final bridge performance. Bringing together a world-class team, Imagineer’s pop-up creation space is a fantastic achievement. This is hugely exciting, not just for the development of our project but Coventry as a City of Culture and the UK outdoor arts sector as a whole.”

Councillor Matthew Lee, the Leader of South Kesteven District Council, said: “Working in partnership with Imagineer has provided a unique opportunity for local creative artists to develop their skills and for community groups across Grantham, and the wider district, to be part of a wonderful Outdoor Arts experience.

“Bridge will add further lustre to South Kesteven’s already celebrated outdoor arts offer and is not to be missed.”

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director at Coventry City of Culture Trust said: “Coventry is a city known for building connections across communities and bridging global divides. This project from Imagineer will be an opportunity for people across the city to come together, share their stories and experience a brilliant new work by this nationally renowned company. We are delighted to be supporting this project. Bridge will bring people together, demonstrate the innovation that exists in the city and throw a spotlight onto the great creativity of artists based in Coventry.”

Further information on Imagineer’s Bridge can be found at www.imaginebridge.co.uk

 

Imagineer - Bridge photographer credit Andrew Moore (1)

(Image credit – Andrew Moore)

Exhibitions to visit in Coventry this month

Coventry’s visual arts scene is in for a super busy June. Loads of exhibitions to view, so we’ve summed up some of the top exhibitions to check out over the next couple of weeks:

Project Coventry curated by Tara Rutledge

For one night only Project Coventry will run on Thursday 20th June at Classroom Gallery from 6:30 – 9:30pm. There is a cracking line-up of 12 Coventry-based artists for an immersive, interactive projection-based exhibition. We caught up Tara Rutledge, the artist behind it all last week to find out what’s in store.

Take a read here.

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To be within but not adrift by Ryan C. L. & Japhet Dinganga at Knights Wine Bar, Two Tone Village

Private View is Thursday 20th June, 5-9pm then it runs until 27th June.

Ryan says; “The work explores the ways in which we navigate social media. I challenge the prevalence of vanity and seek to present an alternative way of seeing things through a series of visual analogies. You’ll see a mix of photography and mixed media around the room. We’ll have live jazz music and performances, a night to contemplate and appreciate things.”

See the Facebook event here page for more details.

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Bearing Gifts in celebration of Refugee Week at St Mary’s Guildhall

Curated by Maokwo, this exhibition will showcase creative gifts by a fusion of cultures. Opening to the public on Friday 21st June, this two-week long exhibition celebrates the unique talents, and creative gifts that refugees and migrants bring to the city and UK as a whole. Artists from diverse backgrounds and communities will be exhibiting their work.

See their Facebook event page here for full details.

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Condition Humaine at Coventry Cathedral

Open until 30th June, this exhibition by Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange marks the 60th anniversary of the twinning of the two cities. Condition Humaine is concerned with human vulnerability. The exhibition features a moving selection of work by Coventry artists John Yeadon and Lisa Gunn together with Monika Marten and Kerstin Franke-Gneuss from Dresden. Paintings, etchings, linocuts, mixed media and sculpture explore courage, struggle and resilience – qualities both cities share.

Find out more about Condition Humaine here.

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Motion and Stillness: Works by Gary Wragg at the Lanchester Research Gallery

Curated by Matthew Macaulay, Director of the Classroom Gallery, this exhibition features both recent large-scale abstract paintings by Gary Wragg and more small-scale figurative paintings created back in the 1960s. Gary last exhibited in Coventry at The Herbert back in 1983, and flyers from that exhibition can be viewed here too. In the 70s Gary became an avid Tai Chi enthusiast, and his Tai Chi practice merges in with the artworks he created from this date.

The exhibition continues until the 5th of July between 10:00 and 16:00 on Tuesday to Thursdays. For appointments outside these times please contact Matthew Macaulay at: sayhello@weareclassroom.com.

View the Facebook event page here for more details.

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(Image by Alan Van Wijgerden)

Warwickshire Open Studios

Over 300 artists are exhibiting in 151 venues for this summer’s event which runs across Coventry and Warwickshire. It is now open and will run until 30th June. This year there will be 75 new artists exhibiting in Open Studios, and is set to be one of their best years yet.

Check out their website and artist listings and start planning your visits over the coming weeks – https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/

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Project Coventry – coming soon!

We’ve caught up with Coventry-based artist Tara Rutledge to find out about her exciting forthcoming venture – Project Coventry – a projection-based exhibition that will take place at Classroom Gallery later this month. We’ve also delved a little deeper into Tara’s creative practice and what inspired her as an artist…

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What is Project Coventry themed around?

Project Coventry is a projection-based exhibition exploring the ongoing rebirth and regeneration of Coventry.

During the Blitz much of Coventry was flattened and then rebuilt in a very different style, and in recent years a similar transformation is happening within our city, but for very different reasons. Coventry is changing and growing, becoming a University city, a City of Culture, a tourist destination and its City Centre is adapting to new trends in online shopping, and the ‘decline’ of the high street. When these changes happened back in the 50s and 60s they weren’t always popular, and nearly 60 years on, people’s attitude towards alterations in the city haven’t changed all that much.

There seems to be a strong link between our sense of self and the city we grew up in. If that familiarity is lost, is our sense of home lost too?

Project Coventry will bring together local artists, some who have never worked with projection before, and pair them with experienced projection artists, to make new collaborative artworks that explore this theme.

 

Tell us which artists will be exhibiting and why you selected them for your show?

There are 12 artists involved in Project Coventry, including myself.

They are all extremely talented and work with a wide range of media including photography, poetry, printmaking, animation and film. They all have a strong connection to the city so seemed perfect to interpret the brief, but they are also artists who I hugely admire and who have influenced my practice since being introduced to their work.

 

What kind of thing can people expect to see at Project Coventry?

I’ve tried to make the exhibition as interactive as possible, giving the audience the opportunity to become involved with the projections, wearing 3d glasses to view stereoscopic images of the city from the 1960s, seeing poems projected onto live performers, listening to music and soundscapes and becoming live projections themselves!

  

What dates will the exhibition run? 

Project Coventry – The Exhibition is a one-off event running from 6.30 pm – 9.30pm on Thursday 20th June at CLASS ROOM & Holyhead Studios in Coventry City Centre. It’s a chance to showcase all the artwork at the same time in one location, but following on from the gallery exhibition, a selection of the artworks will be toured around Coventry this autumn. I’m keen to take the artwork out to parks, libraries, shops, subways and public spaces where anyone can access them. In fact, I will be reaching out to the public for suggestions of where they’d like to view it in their local area, so if anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

 

Where can people go to find out more?

Please check out the Project Coventry website, where you can find full details of when and where the exhibition will be held and learn more about each of the artists involved:

www.projectcoventry.co.uk

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We’d love to get to know more about you as an artist. What type of work do you produce yourself as a Visual Artist?

My work is quite varied, recently I’ve been experimenting with projection, photography, film and outdoor installations.

 

What themes do you explore through your work?

I was wondering about this myself the other day, and initially didn’t think I had any in particular but, I noticed a reoccurring theme seems to be looking at things from a different viewpoint. Whether that be finding beauty within decay, viewing the world through a different lens or just questioning what we take for granted.

Otherwise the main consistent theme through most of my recent work is interactivity, taking art outdoors and community engagement.

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What forms the starting point for a new piece of work? 

Conversations, dreams, thoughts that pop into my head while walking, other people’s artwork often inspires me and sparks new ideas.

  

Are there any other artists who you admire and feel inspired by?

As well as the artists involved in Project Coventry I’d have to say individual artists like Luke Jerram, Niall McDiarmid, Alex Rinsler, JPS and then companies like Hellion Trace, Imagineer Productions, The Lantern Company, SquidSoup and Luxmuralis.

  

Do you have any future projects planned?

Too many! But, for now, I’m concentrating on just one or two.

Last year I went to Dublin and fell in love with the Dublin Canvas project, a campaign inspired by the idea of having ‘Less Grey, More Play’ within a city. The project does a regular call out to artists for designs to decorate the city’s traffic light control boxes. All have different themes and they really brighten up the areas they are located in. I’d love to bring this idea to Coventry, starting with a call out to local artists to design 12 boxes to inspire people and show what can be done, and then taking the project out into the community. Encouraging local schools/community groups/shop workers to design the artwork for the boxes on their street.

I’m also keen to bring a Flash Fiction competition to the city, giving winners a chance to be mentored by local writers and learn from their wealth of experience.

  

Where can people go to find out more about you and your creative practice?

 You can find me on

twitter: @sparkleyesXx

Instagram: @lajeteeproductions

I have a website going live in the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out for an announcement on social media.

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Our interview with Coventry Artspace’s Graduate Artists-In-Residence

During our May #ArtChatCov Tweet Chat we ran a live interview with Coventry Artspace’s Graduate Artists-In-Residence Helen Kilby-Nelson and Adam Neal. They have just past the half-way point of their one-year residencies and have been reflecting on the past 6 months. Take a read of what was discussed during their Q& A on Twitter…

How has the residency helped with your personal development as an artist?
Adam: So far it’s given me the agency and freedom to produce work along a line of inquiry that genuinely excites me – and me and Helen have also planned future collaborative projects.

Helen: Time, space and support which has been crucial in this first year after graduating. Networking has been very helpful and I’ve developed some valuable relationships. As Adam said, the residency has brought us together and we will be working collaboratively post residency!

How has having your own studio space to work in benefitted your creative practice since finishing your degree?
Adam: It’s been a proactive space to think and reflect in relation to contextual and theoretical frameworks of my practice – it has taught me that personally a studio isn’t a requirement for my practical work however.

Helen: it’s an interesting space which I fought with, a lot, during the first few months. I’ve used the space to stretch – as a place to contemplate, and to engage with my work without distractions.

What do you feel you have gained most from your residencies so far?
Adam: The networks made have been crucial, they’ve allowed me to exhibit all over! To have been afforded the opportunity to practice within an established organisation, towards a solo exhibition, has given me real focus.

Helen: The skills required to be an artist rather than an art student. It has been a steep learning curve!

How will you be spending the rest of your time during your residency?
Adam: Currently aiming towards the solo exhibition! I’ve been planing away in terms of a thematic, title, which works will be shown etc – there’s a myriad of factors to consider, but the responsibility of it all is exciting.

Helen: This next stage of the residency will focus on resolving my body of work 360 Perpetuation for the solo show, alongside my other commitments. Also final planning for an 18 month project which is informed in part from this work.

Do you have a date planned yet for your exhibition at the end of your residency?
Adam: Yes mine is 16th – 24th August, with the opening on the 15th August. It’ll be at the Artspace Arcadia.

Helen: My exhibition will open at Artspace Arcadia on 29th August for the PV, then open 30th August to 7th September. I’m VERY excited!

We’re looking forward to getting along to view their solo shows!

Coventry Artspace have recently announced that applications are now open for the 2019/2020 Graduate Residency Programme. This is open to graduates from a UK BA in Fine Art or related course on or after Summer 2018.

Each graduate is assigned a mentor and receives a number of studio visits from their associates and partners.  They also receive up to 10 months free studio space and funding for at least one research trip within the UK, plus an end-of-residency solo exhibition. This opportunity is intended to help support recent graduates bridge the gap between full-time education and a career in the arts.

Find out more about their great personal development opportunity here.

 

 

The Coventry Arts Organisation Bringing History to Life

Coventry based arts organisation, Mercurial Arts, in partnership with Yardley primary school, Oasis Academy Hobmoor, have launched a brand new digital app, that will share Yardley’s local heritage through the stories and memories of its children, residents and wider communities.

The App, ‘Histories at Hobmoor’ is the culmination of a two-year-long project that saw schoolchildren, and local residents participate in a series of poetry and heritage workshops during a programme of holiday and afterschool sessions. They have been working with professional artists to create the work before uploading the media for app users to enjoy.

Histories at Hobmoor App Launch 

Darren King, Principal of Oasis Academy Hobmoor, said; “It has been fantastic to be part of this exciting project with Mercurial Arts, the engagement by our local community and pupils of Oasis Academy Hobmoor has been amazing. I can’t wait to see the developments of the App over the coming months with community members adding even more of their own memories from across Yardley.”

Mercurial Arts Artistic Director Oliver Scott said: “This project has been a delightful journey over the last two years. Yardley has fantastic local community members and creative children. It has been a real joy running the workshops and connecting the participants with our artists and heritage workers. We are now launching our app, as an experience for people to get out and about in Yardley hear the memories in locations and share their own stories. The website is where people can upload and share their memories of the area and will continue as a local history resource”

As well as learning about those who have walked the Hobmoor trail before them, there is also an opportunity for members of the public to upload their own stories, memories and photographs from the local area.

A celebratory launch event was held earlier in the month at Oasis Academy Hobmoor. The free app was available for guests to download and the users taken on the Histories at Hobmoor tour.

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The app will be an ongoing resource that people from Yardley and beyond can continue to connect with and use well into the future to find out more about Yardley and the history of its community. Available to download now from the Google Play Store and Apple App store when searching for Histories at Hobmoor.

The project has been funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund in partnership with Oasis Academy Hobmoor.

Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange celebrate 60 years of twinning

The Coventry Dresden Art Exchange exhibition Condition Humaine in Coventry Cathedral’s Lady Chapel will run from 31st May to 30th June, (10am to 4pm), with two Coventry artists and two Dresden artists.(Entry free).

The exhibition was first shown at the Kreuzkirche in Dresden in February 2019 to launch the 60th Anniversary of the twinning of Coventry and Dresden in Dresden. This is the seventh collaborative exhibition with Coventry and Dresden artists that the association has organised in as many years, where peace and reconciliation is expressed through the practical work of a collaboration of friends by understanding the different histories and culture of our cities and learning from one another.

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Image: Condition Humaine and exhibition, Kreuzkirche Dresden. February 2019.

John Yeadon, whose initiative set up the organisation, explains. “This is Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange’s first themed exhibition. Condition Humaine is concerned with human vulnerability, courage, struggle and resilience; qualities both cities share.”

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Image: Cry, Lino cut. John Yeadon 1969.

On Saturday, June 1st Coventry Spires Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus and Neuer Chor Dresden will together celebrate 60 years of twinning between these two cities that were so ravaged by war. The choirs and orchestra will perform in a joint concert in at 4.30pm Coventry Cathedral, celebrating peace, reconciliation and friendship.

Tickets available from ticketsource.co.uk/spiresmusic

The Spires website www.spiresmusic.com

The Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange is a personal initiative of John Yeadon with the Dresden artist Jean Kirsten in 2011. The Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange programme seeks to develop dialogue and communication between artists from the cities of Coventry and Dresden. The aim is to create opportunities by establishing collaborative partnerships of exchanges, exhibitions, educational projects and forums.

Other events associated with the exhibition Condition Humaine events will include:

Meet the Artists, Lady Chapel, Sunday 2nd June 12 to 1pm.

Lisa Gunn, Artist Talk: Exposed, the disabled artist. Wednesday 5th June, 6.30 to 8.30pm, West End Nave, Coventry Cathedral.

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Poster image Fraunkirche Dresden.

GUEST BLOGGER – Adam Neal

We’re delighted to welcome special guest blogger Adam Neal. His practice revolves around issues of social class, nostalgia and loss. Neal utilises his experiences, upbringing and ephemera from traditional ‘working-class’ environments. These elements act as a vehicle for his practice, allowing him to generate work about the social, from within it.

Bay Leaves II

A Plebeian, Aware of his Milieu
Adam Neal

 Value

I’m glad I titled this text something convoluted, I like to believe it renders it that little bit more facetious. Facetiousness is a positive characteristic for an artist, and art to have, as everything seems to take itself so seriously.

“Artists are too in the mind of ‘isn’t it good this is happening’ instead of asking whether it should be happening at all, or evaluating it in any way. art doesn’t have inherent value, it’s always worth prodding” (The White Pube, 2018).

Self-reflection should be constant, in that same breath I ask myself, is the work I am making interesting, valuable, and really is it any good? In all honesty, I deem trying to produce artwork that is ‘good’ subjectively unattainable, and the question lies more so in does my work have any value and real life application.

The value stems from the context, the relationship between my Nan and myself, and its application to a way of life. I am using these pre-existing facets of my life as the value, and a way in which I can comment on a way of life that is now fleeting. Whilst, simultaneously, attempting to define how contemporary working class culture manifests itself.

In actuality, I’m still unsure what a lot of this means or how to define aspects of the subject matter. However I deem there value in attempting, in elucidating a way of life that has contributed towards and been affected by our current political and economical standing, as a country.

“I don’t see how this has anything to do with ‘Art and Design’, you’re not designing anything”. Nan usually proclaims as I walk around the house with my camera, or when I ask to borrow things to photograph. Value is added within these interactions. Our relationship becomes a closer one, and she begins to understand what I am (attempting) to achieve within my creative and professional life. I’m not attempting to turn my Nan into an artist, however it’s exposing her to what contemporary art can be (like I’m a bloody Turner Prize winner). I’m aware that at the moment the value can be perceived as personal, and this is an aspect I am attempting to ameliorate and add value to a wider demographic.

Place

“next is location: the centre point in the women’s lives, i.e. where they live. Their physical location becomes ever more important to them struggling to hold on to who they are and how they wish to be known, but so does their social location: where they are positioned in social space: they are always aware of ‘being looked down on’, and situated ‘at the bottom’. (Mckenzie, L, 2009, p.p. 14)

Lisa Mickenzie’s statement resonates particularly in terms of the relationship between physically and social space. ‘Working-class’ communities are seemingly locked into geographic locations, primarily as a result of occupation at the height of British Industry. However, this idea of being locked in or perhaps unaware of one’s social space is a trait often attributed to the ‘working-class’. Being more upwardly mobile is a trait connected often to the middle classes and upward, however with new social classes being formed characteristics are harder to attach to certain groups. We always generalise, I feel.

Analysing this is integral to my own position as an artist producing work of this ilk. Going through an arts education, I immediately become more upwardly mobile; I have access to new social spaces now due to connections made, my occupation and practice. However, where I live still encapsulates idea’s of the ‘working-class’. I am privileged, I acknowledge this privilege, but now feel uncomfortable crossing between these environments. I do not have any answer to this, and perhaps this tension and awkwardness is integral to my practice. It grounds me, allows me to self-reflect constantly, and probes what I do and its value.

Personally, I still deem my practice to be problematic in terms of its scope. Being cemented within academia until last June has resulted in me working only with my own locality. To an extent this was sufficient, but only sufficient relative to my abilities, understanding and position. Locality, and specificity is crucial for closer studies, and more focused methods of thinking, but for my practice I believe cast my net further afield also. Pierre Bourdieu’s approach of studying Kabyle communities in Algeria springs to mind, as I am convinced this level of cultural cross-examination would elucidate the pathway my practice needs to take, and aid in the enhancement of the contextual framework.

Process

Everyone’s a photographer now aren’t they? Whether it’s on your iPhone, or you’ve saved up money to buy a decent DSLR, just point, click and don’t worry about it pal. Joking, and generational generalisations aside, photography as a creative medium has never been so accessible, and equally over saturated.

“In other words, the photograph, as it stands alone, presents merely the possibility of meaning” (Sekula, A, 1984). Constantly, this quote slaps me in the face, and forces me to think deeper about the application of photography. Photography alone, presents the idea or possibility of meaning, Sekula here doesn’t tell us how to create meaning. There is no formula for activating the meaning within photography, this is purposely ambiguous and the space has been left open for personal interpretation.

Photography has a magnitude of applications within creative processes, from documentation to realisation. I do agree with Sekula in that photography, in isolation, is rarely enough especially within contemporary creative practices.

I am not discrediting photographers or photography as an occupation, it’s important to make the delineation between photographers and artists who primarily use photographic processes. As I consider myself an artist who uses photography as a primary process.

Coinciding with this, my stance is that photography needs activation within my practice; it needs another ‘thing’ alongside. Combining photography with disciplines such as sculpture, physical objects, or ready-made objects seemingly creates more dynamic dialogues between the work, which culminates in a more engaging and coherent overall communication of the ideas.

Gavin and Stacey, Series 1, Episode 4. The vicar in Stacey’s hometown church begins to ask the congregation what their favourite sandwich is. Ultimately it boils down to this: “The point is that the bread is the Holy Spirit, the mayonnaise/butter is the Father, and the filling is the Son. We all like different fillings but ultimately the bread remains a constant just like God”.

I’d like to attach this sandwich metaphor to process. Most of us will have our bread, a go to process we are either well versed in or simply enjoy, and this will remain a consistent. We should all, however, consider what our filling is, what accents the bread in a tasty way. What processes should we use to complete our sandwich, and both compliment and challenge our consistent.

I suppose the mayonnaise/butter also remains constant, the vicar didn’t really elaborate on this. Perhaps we should think of it as the theoretical and contextual frameworks. Either way, at this point I think you get the gist.

Book I

Artist Spotlight: Andy Farr

Warwickshire-based artist Andy Farr has been working with the Institute of Mental Health in Nottingham on a moving project which documents a number of individual’s experience of PTSD. The series of paintings created during this project will be on display at the Lanchester Gallery from 7th March – 5th April. We’ve interviewed Andy ahead of his solo show to find out more about him as an artist, and what inspired him to create this thought-provoking body of work.

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(Image by John Whitmore).

When did you first get into Art Andy?

Good question. Art was always my passion growing up, but then school talked me out of doing A-Level and my path went in other directions until just over 10 years ago. Both my sons are good artists and their passion drew me back in. About a year later I was seriously ill and while in hospital decided that if I survived that commuting down to London wasn’t how I saw my future. After six months recovery I handed my notice in and to be honest I wasn’t quite sure how the future would pan out. Fortunately, I met a wonderful artist called Caroline Hulse who ran painting courses. She must have seen something in my early daubs as she acted as my mentor over my first summer of my second life. Encouraging me to be more experimental and bold. At that point I assumed that I would at some point return to the world of marketing but ten years later I am very much a full-time artist.

 

Tell us how you came to work on the project for your forthcoming solo show “The Twisted Rose and Other Lives” which explores post-traumatic stress and the process of recovery.

The Twisted Rose project evolved out of the work I did for my MA. I used the MA as an opportunity to look back and try to make sense of events from my own childhood. My father was bipolar, and it is only recently that I’ve come to realise how profoundly his illness impacted my own being. I found that process to be cathartic and came to realise that the works resonated with others who had had direct experience of mental issues. The actual idea of working with people who have experienced PTSD came from Gary Winslip one of the lecturers at the IMH (Institute of Mental Health) in Nottingham. He connected the dots between an earlier project I’d done commemorating WW1 and my interest in mental health. One of the legacies of the War was many thousands left suffering from with what was then called “shell shock”, what we now term post-traumatic stress disorder. With the promise of exhibition space from the IMH, Coventry University and Lancashire County Council I was able to secure some Arts Council Funding.

Rose

What process do you go through when you are creating a new piece of work?

For this project my process has had to change radically. Each painting has to be created in a way that respects the feelings and vulnerabilities of the subject. The start point has been a dialogue with the person whose experience I’m conveying. That discussion is focussed on how the emotions and feelings that their experience has evoked rather than the details of the traumatic event. That conversation might be over several months via email, or face to face, or both. From that dialogue ideas for metaphors or ways of expressing their story will start to emerge. From there my usual process of seeking images, colours, textures will start to take over. For several of the paintings the person has agreed to be photographed and the resultant image could be described as a “narrative portrait”. This final step of being present in a painting, and then being in public, is a significant one and so far proved to be cathartic for those involved. Unlike other paintings the degree of responsibility felt by me, the artist, to the person I’m painting is huge. I have never felt the same level of trepidation, as I have during this project, when sending or showing the first version of a painting to someone before. So far the responses have not just been positive but deeply moving as well.

Alegria 2

Have you been inspired by any other artists in the past?

I’m a fan of painters whose work has an underlying narrative. From Hopper through to Justin Mortimer and a number of Eastern European artists such as Daniel Pitin and Miriam Vlaming. I like their combination of figurative elements with more abstract mark making.

 

What’s next for you as an artist following your show at the Lanchester Gallery?

The Lanchester Exhibition will be followed by four more shows of this work, two in London, the first straight after Coventry in April, and then Newcastle in May/June and Lancaster in October/November. For the Lancaster show I’ll be working with more people to add additional works to the exhibition. The second London show will be broader encompassing some of my earlier work as well. If more opportunities arise then the work might pop up elsewhere as well! I’m also starting to do some work with psychotherapists to see if there is learning from my work that can be used more widely within therapy. Provisionally we have a cross disciplinary seminar planned for Coventry later in March. However, I am also looking forward to doing some less intense subject matter … I have some ideas but they won’t crystalise until I’ve finished working on the four new painting for the Coventry Exhibition.

Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

To find out more about my work people can go to my website www.andyfarr.com which has a lot of background to my work. I also post work in progress on Instagram @andyfarrart

The Man Inside

Our first #ArtChatCov of 2019

ArtChatCovFinal

This month we will be running an extra special Tweet Chat to mark our first #ArtChatCov of 2019! Instead of the usual Wednesday, this month’s will be Thursday 31st January, 7-9pm.

#ArtChatCov will be a two-hour special. During the second hour, Chloe of Curating Coventry will be going live on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire radio to give a live update of the Tweet Chat. This will be great chance for those who are not on Twitter to gain an insight into what goes on during #ArtChatCov. Then those who join the Tweet Chat will have the chance to hear about themselves live on BBC radio!

We’re planning on running the Tweet Chat a little like this…

7-7:30pm – #ArtChatCov will kick off with a live Q & A with Adam from the Blue Door Gallery – find out more about Coventry’s newest art gallery and join the conversation.

Following this from 7:30pm – 9pm – we’ll run our usual monthly networking session. Share with us your latest projects, any news and updates on what’s coming up, plus forthcoming events and exhibitions.

Then from approximately 8:40pm Chloe will be live on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire “The Culture Club” radio show giving a live update from the TweetChat.

You can tune in online here.

Hope you can join us on the night!

So if you have any forthcoming events/exhibitions or want to share what you are working on, be sure to follow #ArtChatCov between 7-9pm on the night to join the conversation!

(We will go back to running #ArtChatCov on a Wednesday night from February onwards.)

Find out more about #ArtChatCov here.

Our 2018 Highlights

As 2018 is coming to an end, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look back at some fond memories of the year. The city has once again enjoyed an incredible mix of visual arts and although we were sad to say goodbye to the CET Pop-Up back in June, it will definitely leave a lasting legacy in the city.

So here our some of our highlights from 2018:

Coventry University Drawing Prize at the CET Building (March)

The annual drawing prize is ran by the faculty of Arts and Humanities and is open to all students and staff of the uni, both past and present. The exhibition was held at the CET, and although called “Drawing Prize” a diverse selection of media was exhibited.

The winner was Michala Gyetvai with this beautiful oil pastel drawing titled “threads”. Michala is currently studying an MA in painting at Coventry Uni and is also well known for contemporary landscape embroidery work.

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“I Migrated” at The Belgrade by Maokwo, founded my Coventry artist Laura Nyahuye in celebration of International Women’s Day (March)

This moving exhibition told the story of migrant women through photography, poetry and handmade body adornments. The exhibition gave an insight into inner struggles, fears, loss, joys and triumphs and aimed to challenge perceptions. The event was opened by Lord Mayor of Coventry and featured some incredibly touching, thought-provoking talks, poetry, music and dance.

Following the event, we interviewed Laura Nyahuye to delve a little deeper into her as an artist and the incredible work that she is doing to empower women.

Read this interview here.

 

John Yeadon “What’s the meaning of this?” at the CET Building (May)

Renowned Coventry-based artist John Yeadon opened his solo show “What’s the meaning of this?” in the Newsroom at the CET Building back in May. This featured a retrospective view of paintings he produced in the 1980s, which, at the time, were deemed shocking and controversial, alongside a collection of his more recent work. This exhibition encouraged the viewer to reflect on the political, ideological, social and economic changes that have taken place in this period.

His selection of older work featured paintings from his “Dirty Tricks” exhibition at The Herbert Gallery in the 80s. A collection large-scale of grotesque-realist paintings, which at the time were branded in the press as “Smut not Art”.

In stark contrast to this, John’s idealistic landscape paintings, from his more recent “Englandia” series were on display. This collection of work challenges myths, preconceptions and contradictions of national identity through landscapes. Then alongside these, the exhibition featured series of digital assisted paintings of Sellafield Nuclear Power Station. The paintings reflected his interest in technology and yet also the way in which 20th century technology dates so fast and so badly.

We chatted to John before the exhibition opened.

Take a read of his artist interview here.

 

Our first ever live #ArtChatCov at The Pod (September)

We teamed up with The Pod Café for a Supper Club back in September, for our first ever live #ArtChatCov. This sell-out event was a wonderful social evening where artists and arts organisations from the city came together for a night of great food, live music and good company. Birmingham based electronic duo EIF performed an amazing live set while people shared delicious vegan dishes sourced from local produce. We also got to find out more about the social activist movements that come under the umbrella of The Pod Café, including The Time Union – a city-wide time bank and Food Union which focuses on connecting people through conversation and action around food. It was a wonderful relaxed evening, connecting like-minded individuals in this absoulte gem of the city. We hope to run some more events like this over the next year.

(For those who haven’t heard of it, #ArtChatCov is our monthly networking TweetChat connecting artists and arts organisations across Coventry. Find out more about it here).

 

Coventry First Thursday at Classroom (October)

A selection of Coventry-based artists were selected for this exhibition for their positive contribution to the perception of the visual arts both inside and outside the city. Upstairs featured a selection of abstract painting, figurative work, photography and digital work. Then as you entered the basement, the smoke-machine bellowed as you explored room by room which hosted installations, moving image work, and painting in this wonderful atmospheric setting. The opening night was absolutely packed and we really loved the way that this amazing space was used!

(Which leads us to our next highlight…)

We Are Luminous launch at Holyhead Basement (November)

We Are Luminous is a Moving Image forum set up my Coventry Artspace trustee and artist Hannah Sutherland along with Artspace studio holder and digital artist Carol Breen. For the launch they put on a cracking event in the basement at of Holyhead Studios ahead of bonfire night. This took inspiration from Cai Guo-Qiang’s One Night Stand: Explosion Event (2013), Andrew Waits Boom City (2012), Shunji Iwai’s episode of the Japanese drama series titled “Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?”

Once again this atmospheric space was filled with an exciting selection of work from moving image and new media artists based from in and around the city. Holographic glasses were handed out, which gave each piece of work a whole new dimension. The garden was open, and sparklers were lit, drinks were poured whilst ambient electronic sounds from TOPS OFF (Laura Coffin and Jack Carr) echoed around the basement. What a night!

Backbone at Artspace Arcadia Gallery (November)

During the final month or The Art of Coventry programme, artists from The Shared Collective worked alongside curator Anna Douglas exploring “The Art of Curation”. During this 3-day workshop they worked with images of older women by the famous docu-photographer Shirley Baker. Each artist chose a photograph which they felt most connected to, and responded with poetry or their own written piece. The final result was an immersive audio/visual installation displayed at Artspace Arcadia Gallery. This enclosed space was filled with a sea of rose petals, leading to life-size images projected onto the far wall, with the voice recordings of each artist’s response exploring women’s identity in today’s society.

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Coventry Open at The Herbert Gallery and Museum

Over 300 pieces of work were submitted to this year’s Coventry Open, and these were whittled down to 99 artworks, which are all currently on display at The Herbert Gallery until 24th February.

The exhibition features a wonderful diverse showcase of talented artists from across the region with a wide range of media from painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and textiles. If you haven’t already been along yet, we couldn’t recommend this enough!

The judges winner was contemporary painter Jack Foster, for his painting Kite. You can vote for your own winner and the people’s choice winner will be announced when the exhibition closes!

 

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Andy Sargent

We’ve interviewed Warwickshire based contemporary painter, Andy Sargent to find out a little bit more about his creative practice, ahead of his forthcoming solo show (opening 22nd December 2018 and Nuneaton Gallery and Museum). 

The Coombe track

Tell us a little about your history as an artist Andy. When did you first get into painting?

I was drawing and being creative before I could read or write! I was surrounded by art as a kid, my grandfather was a talented amateur artist as well as his brother in Llandudno. I remember reading all his big reference books on art, so I got to be aware of the likes of Monet, Van Gogh, Sickert and Singer-Sargent at an early age. My grandfather was also a guide for many years at Coventry Cathedral, and I often got to draw all the amazing artefacts when I was young in the Cathedral’s under croft, and I remember staring for hours at the famous works of art in there, by Sutherland, Piper, Epstein and so on. I was starting to dabble in painting whilst at school (I won an award in the Coventry Building Society’s young artist competition that they used to run each year, I think it would have been around 1980) and then really got into it at College, studying for a BTEC Diploma in General Art & Design, then for a degree in Fine Art at Birmingham Polytechnic.

How has your style changed and evolved over the years?

As I had grown up, reading and being influenced by 19thC French painting and so on, my work changed vastly, especially after I came under the tutelage of Dave Berry-Hart and Geoff Yeomans at “Tech” in Nuneaton. Dave was a fabulous sculptor, but he opened my eyes up to Dada, surrealism, abstract expressionism etc. Geoff was an amazing painter and was a stickler for the traditional craft of painting. This had a profound influence on my painting at the time. I had a terrible time on my degree course, and after gaining my degree I destroyed all my work, vowing never to paint again! In the mid 90’s I started getting commissions for portraits and animal studies, then I started painting for myself again. Since then, my work has often gone from expressive realism into abstraction and back again. I have always been particularly fond of Fauvism, and its experiments with colour, and this is often an influence on my work. I’m always experimenting, and trying new ideas. Since my spinal injury in 2010, my work is often painted in discomfort and pain, hence the reason that some of my works look like they’ve been attacked with a brush, and extreme tonal arrangements have been used, plus vibrancy of colour.

Plain

What themes do you explore in your paintings?

I have for many years dealt with the landscape. Not just in the traditional representation of it, but in different ways it plays on emotions, memories of being in it, things that happen in it and so on. Sometimes the subject is the starting point, but the work itself takes on its own “persona” so to speak, and becomes more about its own composition, technique and materials. Being a disabled artist, I have to paint what is around me, hence landscape is an important subject. I am also developing a body of work, which is a biographical series called “Hidden monster”, and deals with the issues of being a permanently disabled creative in today’s society. It deals with pain, depression, isolation, people’s reaction to you, and being a sort of “phantom” in your own life, not being able to do the things you once did.

What process do you go through when creating a new painting?

I’m very much a spontaneous painter. I don’t hang around. Having said that, some works do take a lot of thought, and juggling with before jumping in with the paint. Due to my physical issues, I can’t spend hours of time on a work, and things like keeping it “fresh”, and not overworking things are important. Some of my work is done in stages, some taking months or years to paint, but that’s only because I’m not happy with something, so I put it away to leave it till the mind clears! I don’t have a proper studio, I paint where I can. That could be out the boot of my car, in the kitchen or in my father’s badly lit and drafty garage! I dream of having a purpose built studio one day!

Chiltern barn

What other artist’s work do you like and why?

I could write you an essay! However to keep it simple, here’s a few to start with! Gustav Caillebotte – simply because the atmosphere he created in his paintings is mystifying! Maurice de Vlaminck – My grandfather met him, so I grew up hearing a lot about him, and his Fauvist works were incredible, as an exercise any painter should try to just have a go at replicating one of his works, it’s not easy, forget traditional colour theory! Frank Auerbach – I have always been interested in his work, his paint application (like the paintings of his friend Leon Kossoff) is almost sculptural, and his story is well worth reading about. Sir Howard Hodgkin – Hodgkin was a painter’s painter (If you know what I mean). He used paint in a different visual language, to the layman Hodgkin’s work seems abstract on first inspection, but to him they were descriptive of a memory, event, or other subject. I had been using the frame around works as an integral part of them way back at college, never having really looked at Hodgkin’s work properly. So to see him doing this in his creations attracted me to his work on purely technical grounds.

What can people expect to see in your forthcoming exhibition at Nuneaton Museum and Gallery?

This exhibition is the culmination of two year’s work (since I became ill health retired from the Civil Service, and I could concentrate on my art without distraction). In those two years, I have explored different ways to interpret the landscape. So visitors will see both traditional and more contemporary/alternative descriptions of it. Not only the landscape itself, but memories of events in it, seasonal references, all sorts of things. Two of the paintings have been seen on television and one of the works was selected for the Midlands Open Exhibition in 2017 at Leamington Museum and Art Gallery. There are over forty works in the show, using a variety of materials and methods, and as with all the work I create, each tells a physical struggle in the making of them if the viewer looks at the mark making contained within the work itself.

Freedom, to the city

Andy’s solo show “From the Land – Differently” will run at Nuneaton Museum and Gallery from 22nd Dec – January 27th.

Find out more here.

www.andysargentartist.com

Thicket of things

Curating Coventry Instagram Artist of the Week

Back in May 2018 we ran an Instagram Takeover with Coventry 2021 City of Culture Trust. There was an overwhelming response with over 620 images submitted to be featured, showcasing the work of so many talented artists from the city.

Way too many to feature during a one-week Takeover, so following the one-week Insta-Takeover, we decided that each week we will continue to feature an artist a week on our Instagram page, until 2021!

For your chance to be featured, use the hashtag #CuratingCoventry2021 to images your work on Instagram!

In the meantime, we’d encourage you to explore other Coventry artist’s work using the hashtag on Instagram and celebrate our city’s creative talent!

Artist Spotlight: Curious Boys Club

Back in October we visited The Gallery, Kenilworth for the first time, to enjoy the opening of the Curious Boys Club exhibition for Black History Month. This featured a photographic collection of work that glimpses into the lives of first, second and third generation migrants in the Midlands. The exhibition gave you an insight into the Curious Boy’s family history and how this helped them form the values to which they now live by. The boys put on a cracking event! There was a great atmosphere on the night and it ended with a beautiful live performance by singer/songwriter Erin Jae Golding.

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We’ve since caught up with founder, Cory to delve a little more deeper into what the Curious Boys Club is all about. Here is what he has to say:

What brought you all together to form Curious Boys Club?
We are just three friends dealing with life and inspired by the same things. We’ve been friends for nearly 20 years, I moved away and always wanted to be part of a collective, a brand, an agency so we shared ideas between COVENTRY and Brooklyn where i was based at the time and created THE CURIOUS BOYS CLUB.

Tell us more about the 9 core values of the Curious Boys

For people to by into your ideals you have to understand who you are and so we developed 9 values that are at our core as boys, men or as human beings.

Those values are AUTHENTICITY  CHALLENGE – COMPASSION – CURIOUSITY – HONESTY – MINDFULNESS – RESPECT – RESPONSIBILITY – TRADITIONAL These values speak clearly to our past, present and future and the legacy that we will leave behind.


What led to you putting on the exhibition at The Gallery?
This all happened relatively quickly we were looking around the midlands for events on Black History Month and saw nothing in Coventry or Warickshire. A little frustrated we sat talking and Cara from the gallery said we have an opening at the gallery if you wanted to put something on. We are all about opportunity and said why not “when does it need to start?”
“10 days!”

“Cool” we replied!

Thank you to Cara and Ben at The Gallery for being so supportive and giving us this opportunity along with everyone that attended

How did you go about curating this?

We didn’t have time or the insight to fully research black history so how do we make this work? How do we make this meaningful?

We tell our story, that’s the honesty value. We began collating all our family images and had the hard task of editing that down to 8 images each of which would speak to the past with 2 images of the present shot of the 3 of us by photographer and friend of the club Chris Ward-Jones.and Videography by new member Jack Cole.

 

Do you have plans for any future exhibitions?
We would love to develop further exhibitions and events but we don’t want to stop at , exhibitions we want to create experiences that engage audiences in new ways whether its black history, creativity, music or just life. It’s all one thing for the curious boys and we hope to take more people on this journey.

Who and what inspires your own creativity?

Life inspires us. Our children inspire us and together that drives and sparks our imagination further.

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What’s next for the Curious Boys Club?
Stay Curious
@curiously_being

#ArtChatCov

ArtChatCovFinal#ArtChatCov is a monthly networking Tweet Chat for artists and art lovers on Twitter, in and around Coventry. It is the perfect opportunity to chat with like-minded individuals, and discuss visual arts happening in the city, and it’s surrounding areas.

If you are an artist or part of an art organisation, this is a great platform for you to promote what you do, and give others the chance to engage with your work. We want to build a supportive community, where people can offer each other advice and utilise the power of social media to help increase exposure for the city’s creative community.

So whether you are an artist, art organisation or simply someone who enjoys exploring the diverse visual arts scene that the city has to offer – everyone is welcome!

How do I get involved?

  • Search #ArtChatCov on Twitter between 8-9pm on the last Wednesday of every month (make sure that the menu at the top of your screen is set on “Latest”)
  • To join the conversation always use #ArtChatCov in your tweets – so either tweet as you normally would using this hashtag, or “reply” to a tweet in the conversation using #ArtChatCov in the reply

(We will “retweet” any posts where people are promoting themselves, and events to help increase their exposure.)

So on the last Wednesday of every month, set yourself a reminder, put your feet up, grab a cuppa and come and join us for #ArtChatCov!

The Art of Empty Spaces live art online dialogue

Coventry Artspace’s ‘The Art of Empty Spaces’ live art online conversation kicked off last night. Artist, lecturer and Artspace trustee John Hammersley is leading a discussion on the topic of space and it’s preoccupation for artists, every evening 8-9pm until Thursday 18th October. This is part of the innovative The Art of Coventry Programme – a professional development programme of trainings and events.

See how you can join the conversation here.

John welcomed Alan Denyer, property developer and the man behind the CET Building (the old Coventry Telegraph Building) as the special guest. Last night’s conversation reflected on the legacy of the CET, and how it’s closure has highlighted the issue of space as a concern for both artists and arts organisations in the city.

Lots of interesting points were made including how certain artworks exhibited in unconventional settings enable viewers to understand art in a completely different context than the gallery settings they were initially created for. Sam Belinfante’s “Accordian” installation is a perfect example.

Image by Tara Rutledge.

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The CET has encouraged artists to consider what alternative spaces lie within the city that could receive artworks. You can join in and follow the conversation here, and see what else was discussed.

Here’s a cracking video created by Coventry-based artists Alan Van Wijgerden and Mary Courtney as a wonderful tribute to the CET – this also was featured in the Spon Spun Festival Arts Trail back in September:

We were sad to see it close it’s doors back in June, but intrigued and excited about the legacy it has left. We’re looking forward to continuing with the The Art of Empty Spaces discussion, each evening until the 18th Oct, and hearing from forthcoming guests including Executive Director of Axisweb Mark Smith, Dr Marsha Bradfield of Artfield Projects, artist Dr Simon Pope and Dr Andy Webster of Coventry University.

#ArtofEmptySpaces

#TheArtofCoventry

 

 

Coventry Biennial 2019 Update

Craig Ashley Advisory Board Introduction

On the evening of the 6th September, the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum was jam-packed with art enthusiasts from across the country, for the big reveal of the 2019 Coventry Biennial. An air of excitement preceded the evening, which saw the launch Coventry Biennial’s fresh new branding, followed by updates on what’s in store for next year’s event, including the dates that the festival will run for: 4th October – 24th November 2019.

The team reflected on the inaugural Biennial themed around – ‘The Future’ – which presented an opportunity for artists and audiences alike to think about the possible shapes, sizes and perspectives of Coventry’s future.

Director, Ryan Hughes shared some interesting stats reflecting the successes of last year’s event:

  • Nearly a third of the attendees had never visited Coventry before
  • Nearly half of the attendees were under the age of 24
  • All of the participating artists felt that the Biennial had a positive impact on their creative practice.

Paul Newman in The Future

Ryan then revealed the overarching theme for next year’s event – ‘The Twin’ – an exploration of ideas around duality and place.

We’ve since spoken to Ryan, and he’s delved into this concept a little more for us: “Whilst evaluating the inaugural Coventry Biennial, which of course focused around ideas of – ‘The Future’ – we concluded that there is no possible singular solution, some artists approached that theme positively, others negatively. However we tried to consider the exhibitions we’d made, there was always some kind of duality at play. It became so prominent that we began to explore what dualities might mean in Coventry and within contemporary practices, this very quickly led us to look at Coventry’s twin cities and with the 75th Volgograd and 60th Dresden anniversaries in 2019 The Twin began to feel really substantial and engaging.”

For artists interested in opportunities to be involved in next year’s event, the team have stated they will not be running open calls for participation in their exhibitions. They feel it is far more useful for all concerned if their team and local artists can build meaningful, personal relationships which will give them a good idea of artist’s abilities and interests and where artists have a clear understanding of how the Biennial can support them.

Ryan has encouraged artists from across the city to invite him and the rest of the Biennial team to their studios or exhibitions and to attend as many of their events as possible. It’s also worth keeping an eye on all of their social media channels and website  as there will likely be workshops and other participatory moments which can be applied for there.

During the event on the 6th, Ryan and his team also launched their most recent Kickstarter Campaign to help raise fund for next year’s Biennial. They are encouraging everyone to get involved and show their support if they are in a position to do so. Ryan has updated us on what the raised funds will go towards:

“If we are successful in securing these funds through our current Kickstarter Campaign we will commission a series of new artworks by artists who live or work in Coventry and Warwickshire, ensuring that local artists are included in the biennial. When we look at other Art Biennials around the UK and internationally, it’s fairly rare to see artists from those locales being included so we feel passionately that we can counter that trend.”

People can contribute anything from £1 to £500 for a range of rewards, all of which have been generously supplied by artists and art organisations. Several rewards have already sold out, for example, a one of a kind embroidery by Stewart Easton was snapped up within hours of launching the campaign but there are loads of other really exciting rewards including knitted scarfs for the politically active by Freee Art Collective and sculptures by Juneau Projects.

Ryan says his personal favourite reward has been made by Coventry based artist Adele Mary Reed, she has offered a trio of disposable camera’s, ready to be developed, which are filled with totally unique black and white photos of the city! The campaign can be found at: http://kck.st/2NPRm4Q .

Image by Mariya Mileva.

Adele Mary Reed Shooting Disposable Cameras

The Biennial have until the 6th of October to raise £1,500, and anyone who donates £5 or more will automatically be listed as a supporter for next year’s event on their website. Not only would you be supporting the Coventry Biennial – you’d be supporting Coventry’s artists.

Exhibition Review – Rentrayage by Michelle Englefield

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Thursday evening saw the opening of Coventry artist Michelle Englefield’s solo show “Rentrayage” at Artspace Arcadia Gallery, following her year-long residency at Coventry Artspace. Michelle spent her studio time working towards this final exhibition, which comprised of a series of installations providing an autobiographical reflection of her own personal experiences of trauma.

In her artist statement, Michelle bravely shared her shocking story, of a string of harrowing events, which she has encountered throughout her life, which brought her to where she is today.

Michelle discovered refuge through creativity. Her art has allowed her to find a voice, which had been silenced for so long. She wants her work to give strength to others in the same way in which it has empowered her.

Rentrayage features a series of installations which filled the space in a manner which gave the viewer no option but to engage with each piece – each work becoming an obstacle in their path. The symbolism behind Michelle’s use of material and medium sensitively reflect the vulnerability of one who has experienced trauma, followed by steady growth and repair.

Layers of semi-transparent materials were overlapped – materials such as greaseproof paper, and dust sheets – typically used as forms of protection. Each object interlaced with twine, thread and wool; materials traditionally used to bind, repair and mend.

Each installation was suspended from the ceiling and featured strings of red wool flowing down each piece, a metaphor for veins supplying oxygen – vital for survival. Circular shapes were repeated throughout each installation, a symbol of family, marriage and the womb, whilst other areas had been torn and then stitched back together.

Each delicate installation gave a feel of fragility, so as a viewer you experience a sense of anxiety when passing through the space – fearful of causing damage to the work.

The ambient lighting in the room added atmosphere to the installations, as light created differing effects when shining through the overlapping opaque structures, casting both striking and delicate shadows around the room.

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Michelle has been incredibly strong to open up and share her story of trauma followed by personal growth and repair. This show reveals how Michelle’s artistic practice has ignited an admirable strength and resilience within her. This is incredibly moving to experience when viewing Rentrayage.

The exhibition will run until the 6th September 10am – 1:30pm (closed Sundays and Mondays). On Thursday 30th  5:30-7:30pm at Artspace Artcadia Gallery, she will be hosting a panel discussion surrounding the topics of art, therapy and value.

Exciting news! The Festival of the Imagineers will be back this September

Collectif Coin - Child Hood. Photo by Tara Rutledge

What an incredible event they have in store!

2018 will see the fifth edition of this award-winning festival which will return 17th-22nd September. The Festival of Imagineers celebrates work created at the intersection of art, design and engineering and this year focuses on themes of play and connectivity.
We’ll get to experience a large-scale balloon and sound installation, wonder at 1000 hoops suspended in the Cathedral, contribute our ideas to Imagineer’s next large-scale project, board a custom-converted double decker bus which turns the whole city into a stage and play the streets in a Festival Finale that will invite everyone to come and play.
The week will start with talks, conferences and exhibitions which will go behind the scenes into the creative process in venues from Daimler, Imagineer’s creative space, to spaces including The Herbert and Coventry Cathedral covering everything from art and education to Coventry’s plans as a cycle city.
We can’t wait!
Stay tuned to www.festivalofimagineers.co.uk for all the latest news and updates.

Goodbye CET – thank you for the memories

So the time has come for us to say our sad goodbye to the CET Building. With over 20,000 visitors in the past year, this pop-up cultural hub will leave a lasting legacy in the city. We’re gutted to see it go, but want to share some of our fondest memories of exhibitions we’ve visited there.

The inaugural Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art – the biggest art festival the city has ever scene – the CET Building made the perfect venue for the Biennial’s central exhibition.

This was our first visit to the CET, since it re-opened it’s doors. It was wonderful exploring the building in it’s stripped-back state, each artwork responding to it’s setting and reacting to the exhibition theme of “The Future”.

Here’s our round-up of the inaugural Biennial last year.

Coventry-based artist, researcher and photographer Jonny Bark’s “Inhabiting Edgelands” became a dominant installation in the press hall, which was a result of the artists journey of exploration of these derelict, transitional areas of land in urban landscapes.

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The CET Building held the 2018 Coventry University Annual Drawing Prize, which is open to all students and staff both past and present, across all faculties and disciplines. Since the first competition in 2010 the Drawing Prize has received wider recognition and prestige over the years with entrants from locally based artists to ex-students as far as London.

 

This year’s show certainly did not disappoint and viewers got to vote on who you felt deserved to win. The 2018 winner was Michala Gyetvai with this oil pastel drawing titled “Threads”.

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The Exposure Photography Festival of work by 2nd year BA Photography students at Coventry University was another huge and impressive event. The festival encompassed six exhibitions exploring themes of space and place, community participation, observation of society, the use of colour, an exploration of senses and personal relationships. What a great showcase of the level of talent that is coming from the university.

We loved viewing the highlights of the 2017 Spon Spun festival, and reminiscing the work we explored when we visited the art trail last year. Some took on a whole new dimension in the setting of the building, particularly this beautiful instillation by Min-Kyung Kim “Rain of Memory”, lit up to create overlapping shadows against the back wall.

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The CET hosted the preview of the Urban Culture Street Art Festival, which took place across the city on 9th – 10th June. We were gutted to miss the event, but loved getting along to see all the impressive urban art, which then decorated the walls of the derelict basement room following the preview event.

Award winning artist Sam Belinfante was a visiting artist for “The Art of Coventry” Programme, ran by Coventry Artspace. His famous audio/visual installation “Accordian” was installed in the atmospheric press hall, which lent itself perfectly to this work of art. Echoing sounds came out of the darkness, while the two films of the accordion player rolled simultaneously in their two locations, viewable through either side of the screens.

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We especially loved viewing John Yeadon’s solo show “What’s the meaning of this?” a retrospective view of paintings he produced in the 1980s alongside his more recent work. We interviewed him prior to it’s opening.

We were intrigued at how his paintings deemed shocking and controversial in the 1980s would be received again in the city 34 years later. Yeadon encouraged the viewer to reflect on political, ideological, social and economic changes over the past three decades. People travelled from across the UK to visit this outstanding show of grotesque-realist paintings from earlier years in stark contrast to landscape paintings from his more recent Englandia series, displayed alongside images of nuclear power stations.

 

We have so many happy memories from the past year, and are sad to see it go, but the emergence of this pop-up space created such a buzz for the city’s visual arts scene. It has supported and nurtured Coventry’s grass roots talent and encouraged artists to explore and engage with spaces outside traditional gallery venues. May it’s legacy live on as the artists of Coventry continue to push boundaries in discovering unusual exhibition spaces.

Farewell CET and thank you for the memories!

 

Behind-the-scenes action from the Coventry Arts Trail

Curating Coventry are delighted to welcome our first guest bloggers; Photographer John Whitmore (images) and Glass Maker Amanda Glanville (words) who are both opening their studios as part of the Coventry Arts Trail 16 June – 1 JulyThey’ve given us a wonderful account of what’s been happening behind-the-scenes on the run up to the event:

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If you’ve ever wondered what an artist’s studio or workspace looks like, whether a painter works in an ordered calm, or a textile maker in a colourful chaos now is your chance to find out.

From 16 June – 1 July, the artists from Coventry Arts Trail invite you in to meet them in their homes and workspaces to see how and where they make art. This is part of Warwickshire Open Studios, the county’s biggest free annual visual arts event.

JohnWhitmore_05John Whitmore, a photographer using traditional film techniques, and based in Binley Woods has documented some of the artists you’ll meet as part of the trail (including himself!) to give you a taste of the very different ways they work and their working environments.

From contemporary workspaces to quirky sheds, a homely room in a traditional Victorian villa to a bright corner in an Edwardian terrace attic, The Coventry Arts Trail artists have one thing in common with all artists – they like to surround themselves with intriguing tools and equipment.

 

TheoWright_02You’ll see lots of these when you visit the Arts Trail, along with art big and small (most of it for sale), work in progress, sketchbooks, and some of the artists will be giving demonstrations too – don’t miss the working loom in Earlsdon and the lamp work glass demonstrations in Chapelfields. At all the addresses there is the warm welcome you would expect with Open Studios – often with cake and tea too.

It’s a friendly and approachable way of seeing art and a must for anyone who has been put off visiting a art gallery in the past.

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Full details of all the Coventry Arts Trail artists are on the Warwickshire Open Studios website where you can search who is open when by area and times they are open. Coventry Arts Trail has its own Facebook page where you can find out more. Please note, not all artists are open all of the time.

Or you can use the Warwickshire Open Studios Brochure or Coventry Arts Trail leaflet which are widely available.

Come and see what we’ve all been working on!

Andy Farr

A painter exhibiting from his city centre studio an affecting and thoughtful body of work which interprets true stories of post traumatic stress
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/andy-farr

Emma O’Brien

Textile Artist and illustrator. Well known as the creator of ‘Naughty Monsters’ and co-author of children’s picture books. Emma’s delicious vegan cakes will be on offer during Open Studios.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/emma-obrien

Amanda Glanville

Maker of tiny glass stuff. Quirky, colourful and fun miniature objects for house and garden. Ongoing demonstrations in The Red Shed.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/amanda-glanville

Adam Tucker

Intricate detail of England’s natural landscapes captured in paint
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/adam-tucker

Katie O

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Pencil and watercolour artist capturing in great detail the essence of wildlife. Showing as part of a group exhibition with four other artists at University Hospital Walsgrave. Please note this is an unmanned exhibition.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/katie-o

Sarah Howarth

New to Coventry Arts Trail, a mixed media artist who specialises in decorative mirrors.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/sarah-howarth

Theo Wright

Fine detail of intricately loom woven textiles. Demonstrations on full sized loom.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/theo-wright

Aleks Dille/Katharine Hopley

Designer / Makers of fine jewellery in all precious metals with a particular specialism in gemstones.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/aleks-dille 

Adam Hussain

Distinctive contemporary kiln fused glass as large installation pieces and smaller domestic bowls and plates. Adam offers workshops in beginners fused glass techniques.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/adam-hussain

John Whitmore 

Landscape, townscape and portrait photography using traditional camera techniques (non digital) and hand printing. Weds during Open Studios – pre bookable in depth demonstrations at his Binley Woods studio.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/john-whitmore

There are more artists to discover on the Coventry Arts Trail – not all of them were available for photographs. Discover the full list of places to visit here.

 

You can follow this blog post authors on the following:
John Whitmore
Facebook: @thedarkshed
Twitter: @thedarkshed
Instagram: @thedarkshed
https://johnwhitmore.gallery

Amanda Glanville
Facebook: @TheEarringCafe
Instagram: @theearringcafe
www.earringcafe.co.uk

Follow “The Van Trip” Live Art Journey – From East to West with Love

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Thursday the 7th June, we will witness an open top truck loaded with a tonne of bread and salt, depart from Whitley Depot, Coventry on a 1072 mile journey to Łódź, Poland, as part of a live art, transient performance by Coventry-based contemporary artists Rob Hamp and Emilia Moniszko.

The Van Trip is Phase 2 of From East to West With Love – a project which aims to establish unity, dialogue and connections between Eastern and Western Europeans.

You can follow this outreaching trip live via their social media channels, where Coventry-based film-maker Ivan Petkov will provide real-time documentation of the journey.

To put the concept of the Van Trip in better context, here’s an insight into the history of From East to West with Love:

Phase One – The Visitor was a programme of events, an exhibition, public discussions and an artist residency, that took place in September-November 2016 in Coventry, and Łódź, Poland.  The events encouraged arts professionals, academics and the local cultural community to connect and engage with each other whilst identifying and questioning cultural changes. One of Poland’s most radical artists Pawel Hajncel was their artist in residence. He created a performance titled “‘Patriotism for Sale’ in which he addressed the attitudes of migrants who fled their home countries in pursuit of sustainable future.

The objectives of From East to West with Love are to:

  • Place Coventry as a centre for experimental contemporary arts in Britain, free from discrimination resulting from today’s political climate
  • Establish communications between European artists, cultural agents and the general public in order to contribute to a positive image of Europe
  • Attract a diverse range of audiences from different backgrounds in order to release the segregation of the migrant community
  • Create personal development opportunities in curation, communication and event coordination positions
  • Document all elements of the project, to provide material to contribute towards Coventry’s future vision
  • Establish strong relationships between cultural agents and arts facilitators in Coventry and Łódź, in order to create culturally twinned cities.

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SO back to Phase 2 – The Van Trip

Why transport a tonne of bread and salt?

In Poland bread and salt are a symbol of hospitality – a way of welcoming people. Bread symbolises the wish that the recipient will live in abundance, while salt is a reminder of the difficulties that we learn to overcome in life.

Łódź is geographically situated in the centre of Poland, as Coventry is to England. Like Coventry, it is a city with a long-standing industrial history – a connection that is significant to the project, and perfect grounds for twinning the two cities.

Check out this video by the artists to give you more of an insight:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgCqYFEgE2g

Who knows what experiences, interactions and events they will encounter as we follow this outbound journey, crossing borders, boundaries and undoing the framework of state lines.

Stay tuned to their Social Media Channels to find out, and experience The Van Trip with them:

Facebook: @fetwwl

Twitter: @fetwwl

Instagram: @fromeasttowestwithlove

And follow the hashtag #FETWWL

Join their live departure from Coventry on Thursday 7th June via their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/382034575626228/

Watch the arrival approximately two days later at the Punkt Odbioru Sztuki, a Łódź based art gallery where it will then be unloaded:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1637173016403029/

Find out more on the website http://fetwwl.com/

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Artist Spotlight: John Yeadon

John Y in Studio 2018

Image by Marta Kochanek Photography

Renowned Coventry-based artist John Yeadon will be opening his latest solo show at the CET Building on 18th May. This will feature a retrospective view of paintings produced in the 1980s, which were deemed shocking and controversial at the time, alongside a collection of his more recent work.

We’ve interviewed John to find out more about what we can expect from this forthcoming show:

For those unfamiliar with your work, sum up how you would describe yourself as an artist.

I don’t bother or need to describe myself as an artist, I think that’s for others to do, but I’m happy to talk about the work, which is eclectic. I do, and have done different things at different times in my life and I have reinvented myself a number of times. Essentially I am a painter/printmaker but have explored a number of different territories, as a student at Hornsey and the RCA I was interested in archetypes significantly the Mandala, then in the 70s I was involved in making large silk screen anti-fascist banners, what I regarded as street art, portable paintings, later, photography and I spent a decade working digitally before I retired after 30 years teaching Fine Art at Coventry University (Lanchester Poly, as was) and returned to painting.

I have never had any commercial success, never involved myself in the gallery system or art market. I think the market and the ‘silly money’ has harmed art dramatically. When I left the Royal College of Art the art market hardly existed, there was Bond Street and Cork Street and that was about it, there weren’t any collectors of contemporary art in Britain. Unlike the YBAs (Thatcher’s children) I come from a generation who were critical of the capitalist gallery system. Since the 70s this market has grown immeasurably. But today’s vast art market is not anymore democratic than the elitist small art market of the 60s and 70s, and like pluralism, the market aspires to mediocrity. I have taught all my life, I used to regard teaching in Higher Education as state patronage of the artist, I don’t think like this now, it is not the case today. Teaching has given me the freedom to do whatever I wished to do no matter how unpopular the work might be and not having to pander to a gallery as to what sells. Artists can end on a treadmill, repeating themselves and if successful, they become play things of the rich. Why would you wish to sell a painting to someone who would not even invite you to dinner! I prefer my freedom. Freedom to please yourself is also one of the advantages of being ignored. Even though I have not been involved in the commercial art world I have had over 30 one person exhibitions throughout Britain and abroad, mostly curated and organised by myself. It’s important to get the work ‘out there’.

Others have described my work as: pornographic, transgressive, humorous, political, oppositional, resistance, disquieting, difficult, obsessive, unfashionable and mostly going against the grain. It’s not artists who make up definitions and descriptions of themselves or their work, but critics, journalists and curators. All definitions are limiting. It’s also like asking an Impressionist to explain Impressionism, well, the artist never invented the term or the category!

“What do you mean by Impressionism?” Might be the artists reply.

The 1980s work was categorised as Grotesque Realism or Theatrical Realism.

Obviously there are some descriptions I like and others I don’t. Grotesque Realism was good for me as I developed a great interest in Rabelais, Bakhtin, the Medieval Carnival and the satire of Jonathan Swift. I like the over the top, the larger than life, of the grotesque, where ‘more is more’. For me, Carnival is the history of the ‘popular culture’, a peoples culture. An extra political aspect of the world of human relations which Bakhtin described as a ‘second world…a second life outside officialdom’.

I like to exploit contradictions, paradox and ambivalence and challenge preconceptions. I once said that “paradox was the dialectic of life”, in a slightly more profound moment. My paintings are also somewhere in between autobiography and fiction, but that’s probably true about most art.

At Coventry University I ran an Art History/Liberal Studies Course on Art and Sexuality, (I was going to call it Querys, but was never sure how to spell that, maybe ‘Queeries’). Erotic art was something I was personally interested in, I hoped it wasn’t too limited a topic and that there was enough substance there to make a seminar series. A novel subject but not mainstream nor everybody’s cup of tea. At the time I was using sexual references in my work as a metaphor, as part of an allegory.

During my preparation I realised that in every age whether that be Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, seventeenth century to the twentieth century, or from the art and creation myths of Egypt and Greece, and from the role of women in art, or sexual identity, whether it be from Leonardo to Picasso, Michelangelo to Duchamp, Artemisia Gentilischi to Jo Spence, Fragonard to Hockney, from Caravaggio to Francis Bacon, sexuality is the central theme. I realised that sexuality was fundamental to the history of art as it is to the narrative of our lives. Any art history that ignores sexuality is an incomplete art history and they do ignore it.

Identity is a important theme of art, but ‘branding’ seems important for artists these days. A simple ‘bite size’ description, a signature work. Make it simple. It’s all about the market. Why would you wish to pin yourself down. Actors would run a mile rather than being typecast. Keep them guessing, that’s what I say. There are many different Picassos. Why limit yourself. Like Rabelais, I am interested in lists and in the 2000s I produced a ‘Miscellany of words and phrases associated with food and eating’. Tellingly, ‘branding’ was next to dehorning and castration!

(See johnyeadon.com ART, Full English: Text).

Tell us what featured in your risqué “Dirty Tricks” exhibition at The Herbert in 1984, that we’ll get to see again in “What’s the Meaning of This?”

I don’t regard my work as risqué in any moral sense, I think the painting are highly moral. Essentially I am asking questions. Though I suppose one always risks something when painting. Shouldn’t all artists be taking risks, isn’t that what it’s all about, it’s the viewer who might see the work as risqué in a moral or ethical sense. This is not the artist’s job, self censorship has to be avoided. Some of my work took a kind of courage, non of it comes easy, one might even say it took bravery, even if only overcoming self doubt, but once painted it’s the gallery that has to show courage and the viewer to be up to being challenged. However I do accept that some of the work is provocative and transgressive but its important to expose contradictions and challenge taboos.

Artists need to be extremists, it’s no good upholding the status quo, that’s not a creative strategy. You’ll never do anything new doing that! 

There are a number of works from the Dirty Tricks exhibition in this show, probably many of the paintings that the Coventry Evening Telegraph regarded as ‘smut’ or pornographic. But I cannot speak for what others find offensive. I think racism is offensive, homophobia, nuclear weapons, war, famine, violence, unemployment these are the real obscenities and not images of peoples bodies. My recent work is on the nuclear industry and 50s technology, maybe some will find this offensive, they probably should, but they won’t. Their moral focus and outrage is on bodies and bits of bodies. Kinda makes you to want to offend them!

It’s there in the title for this show. ‘What’s the Meaning of This?’ As I anticipate angry disapproval at what I have done.

How dare I

Control Rooms, Sellafield 2018

What impact did your “Dirty Tricks” exhibition have on your career as an artist?

What impact? Very little. Maybe that’s a bit disingenuous, but nothing noticeable, it did not directly lead anywhere. Most exhibitions don’t, most exhibitions are cul de sacs. Though Dirty Trick was shown at the Pentonville Gallery in London later in the year but that was not a result of the Herbert exhibition, as I had organised this earlier. Sandy Moffat of Glasgow School of Art did say that it was the Dirty Tricks exhibition and the Transmission Gallery in Glasgow which formed my reputation. However my inclusion in the British Art Show of 1985 was not a result of the Herbert show, but at that time the British Art Show was a genuine attempt to represent what was going on in the country and the curators visited studios throughout Britain. In Coventry John Thompson visited the Canal Basin Warehouse where I had a studio.

Having said that, it was a real privilege to show at the Herbert Art Gallery, I had two galleries (one of them now has been turned into storage), you could never get such a space in London unless you were a high profile international artist. I think provincial galleries have an important role in supporting emerging and mid career artists. Sadly the Herbert seems unwilling to curate exhibitions for Coventry or Midland based artists these days, preferring to buy in national touring shows from London museums which I think is curatorially lazy.

How do your recent paintings compare to the ones that you created over 30 years ago?

The 1980s paintings are bigger. Don’t know much more at the moment. The exercise of the exhibition is to compare the works, so I don’t want to predict. I want to look when the show is up. I’d like to be surprised. But who knows.

By comparing disparate work one might find a common denominator, I suppose I would like to find that. A unifying theme, or some underlying idea, that would tell me what to do next, but if I did discover such a thing, a little too late me thinks.

Thinking about this question and looking back at the work there seems to be an interest in ‘monsters’, often as a reference to nuclear weapons as in The Monster from the Nevada Desert, or my transcriptions of Goya’s Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters to my recent paintings of the WITCH computer and Sellafields Nuclear Power Station. Monsters refer back to Grotesque Realism, so maybe I’m still a Grotesque Realist. And that thought is unexpected.

I am curious to see the response of the audience to these 80s paintings in this new context 30 years on. To see how they have survived and what they mean today, how the meanings have transformed. In the 1980s in the face of AIDS paranoia and ‘gay blame’ I painted some homosexual propaganda paintings though not specifically referencing AIDS. Too many other artist were doing work on AIDS. Things were changing in the art world, figurative painting was in the ascendancy and abstract minimalism was out, conceptual formalists and video artists were looking for content and AIDS provided them with a ready made socio-political cause. I did not wish to join the bandwagon. Attitudes to homosexuality have changed, who would have thought that a Tory Government would introduce ‘same sex marriage’. How we see ourselves has changed and how others regard same sex relationships has also by and large transformed. The gay community has changed, the LGBTQ community is more inclusive. But institutional homophobia in the 80s was visceral, ‘gay plague’ paranoia was tangible. For instance, I applied to take out a mortgage with the Woolwich in the late 80s and had to have an AIDS test as I answered ‘yes’ to a question on homosexuality on a questionnaire produced by the company. I got my mortgage after waiting three weeks for the test results, the doctor did not inform me I was HIV negative, they told the Woolwich. I presumed I was okay when they approved the mortgage. Even so, the Woolwich insisted I take out insurance on my house in case I drop down dead owing them money.

Much is different today but we are still a divided and polarised nation as we were in the 1980s. It will be interesting to see how the paintings on sexuality are received in a less hostile and homophobic climate.

What is the reasoning behind placing the more recent works against the paintings you created in the 1980s?

That’s what happens when you do a retrospective. Work gets place next to each other from different periods.

I thought 70 was a good excuse to do a retrospective, though I could not do a full retrospective; too much work, too diverse and not enough space unless they gave me the run of a museum large space and that’s never going to happen.

So I had to be selective on what I show. As I am back painting, to show early paintings made sense. This exhibition is the second of three retrospective shows I am having in these twelve months. I showed my 1982 painting of the Harwell Dekatron WITCH computer the ‘Portrait of a Dead WITCH’ alongside my 2017 second version of the computer – ‘It’s Alive’. Bringing these two paintings together at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, the home of the original WITCH. Consequently the exhibition was called The Three Witches and has run for over three months at the museum. I am also having an exhibition at the Lanchester Research Gallery in February 2019. Bringing together the Travails of Blind Biff Jelly series and my paintings of my grandmother’s and mother’s ventriloquist dummies. In fact Biff’s first outing was the exhibition ‘Unbelievable Stories’ at the University’s Lanchester Gallery in 1988.

Some of the 80s work was badly damaged in my custom built shed which I use for storage when the roof leaked over ten years ago. A lot of work went into a skip. This exhibition has forced me to dig out and repair six paintings that were damaged yet saved from the skip! So I feel it’s well worth showing them again.

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How do you expect the work that you created in the 80s will be received again in the same city 34 years later?

Who knows how it will be received, as I have said it will be interesting to see the reactions in this new context 30 years on. People do not do large figurative paintings these days so it will be interesting for me to see the response of younger artists to these works. 

For me the viewer is not a passive consumer of the art. Looking is an intentional act and requires imagination. Looking requires thinking. As Duchamp pointed out, the viewer finishes off the work.

They provide the meaning. The viewer brings their imagination, understanding and personal experience to the work. They also can bring baggage, ignorance and prejudice to the work.

As Grayson Perry said, “you cannot like everything”, but it was a noisy reactionary minority who reacted badly to the work in 1984. It will be interesting to see if the Coventry Telegraph review the show or even do another editorial. I sent them a press release. But they probably won’t unless they think there’s a scandal.

We shall see.

What’s next for you as an artist?

I the short term I’m showing some of my digital work at the Coventry Pride Art Show also at the CET Building on June 1st. I very please about this and a great way to support Pride. I have the Lanchester Research Gallery exhibition in February 2019 and also in February a Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange exhibition at the Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross) in Dresden to commemorate the bombing of Dresden and the 60th anniversary of the twinning of the two cities. I hope to bring this exhibition to Coventry Cathedral, later in 2019. I need to do some grant applications for the Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange as I would like to continue the artists residencies in the cities and give more Coventry based artists the opportunity to visit and work in Dresden. It’s also great to welcome Dresden artist to Coventry. 

I have my third painting of the WITCH computer in my studio to finish which will keep me occupied for some time. I’ll get a new shed. (Horse and bolted springs to mind). I think I should travel more and need more time to play my ’cello in local orchestras. The Burnley Orchestra is 100 years old this year and I will be going back to my home town in Lancashire to play with them later in the year, I have not played with them for over 50 years.

As for the long term, at 70 there really isn’t any. Bucket list?

Just paint and continue to annoy people.

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Calling all Coventry artists!

Coventry2021InstagramTakeover

For the week of the 7th – 13th May, Curating Coventry will be taking over Coventry 2021 UK City of Culture’s Instagram account, showcasing the work of Coventry’s talented artists. You can submit your work for the chance to be featured – selected work will be displayed on the Curating Coventry and Coventry 2021 Instagram pages.

This will be a great opportunity to increase exposure for you as an artist, and enjoy the work of fellow creatives from across the city.

How to enter?

  • Simply use the hashtag #CuratingCoventry2021 to images of your artwork on Instagram (you can tag old posts too). There is no limit to the number of posts that you can enter.
  • This is open to artists currently based in Coventry and Warwickshire (including students).
  • This is open to visual artists across all disciplines – painting, sculpture, installation, digital media etc.

We can’t wait to celebrate talent of Coventry’s visual artists – get tagging!

Coventry City of Culture identity WIN - PRIMARY FINAL

Our recent visit to the CET Building

In case for any reason, you haven’t yet visited it, we’d recommend checking out the CET Building. Not only is the old Coventry Telegraph building fascinating to explore on the self-guided tour, but it has also become somewhat of a cultural hub for the city, with a constant stream of art exhibitions, concerts, performances and gigs. We’ll be sad to see it go.

We spent a couple of hours on Saturday exploring the latest art exhibitions on display, so here’s an update on what’s currently on:

Theo Wright’s “Permutations” exhibition was the first we visited, and it explores the effect of mathematics on the patterns and colour sequences created in this contemporary weaved textile pieces. It was really interesting to learn about the knock-on effect that the tiniest change in sequence has in the whole pattern created, and he shared the mathematical formula and processes he followed to create each piece of work.

(Open until Sat 21st April).

 

Saturday also saw the opening of #Paintmysong exhibition by Florence Cliffe. A collection of vibrant abstract paintings influenced by music. Painting has become a therapeutic tool for Florence as she explores the subconscious mind through paint. (Check out what’s happening with the hashtag on Twitter).

The “Exposure” photography festival is still open, and is a wonderful showcase of talent from Coventry University photography students. It combines six exhibitions exploring themes of space and place, community participation, observation of society, the use of colour, an exploration of senses and personal relationships.

We got a sneak preview of the Spon Spun exhibition being installed (opening W.C 16th April) and displays a collection of highlights from last year’s Spon Spun Festival including the award winners and commissioned pieces. We really loved this installation by Min-Kyung Kim “Rain of Memory”, the winner of the visitors choice awards. We remembered it from the art trail at last year’s festival, but this installation took on a completely new appearance in this setting. The dramatic lighting in this dark area of the building really emphasised the shadows, adding a totally new dimension to this work.

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We then came across a collection of work by Coventry painter Christopher Sidwell “All Creatures Great and Small”. This exhibition depicts the artist’s sense of humour and is a celebration of life in it’s many forms. A series of acrylic paintings are accompanied by a screen projection and sound installation of his favourite classical piece, intending to portray different animals in musical form.

Coventry Artist Len Cattell has a collection of Aboriginal-style painting and crafts on display on the second floor. Whilst living in Australia he explored the painting techniques of the Aborigines, which inspired his own practice.

Jonny Bark’s immersive installation “Inhibiting Edgelands” fills the old Press Hall, and is the result of the artist’s journey of exploration of these derelict, transitional areas of land in urban landscapes.

 

This sums up a selection of the exhibitions we visited, but there are some more exciting events coming up:

This coming Saturday (21st April) will see a preview for the forthcoming Coventry Street Art Festival, and will feature live graffiti artists and plus live DJs (12-4pm).

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On the 28th April (12-4pm) – Synthcurious 2 – the sequel to the impressive live sound installation that took place earlier this year.

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Then on 17th May, renowned Coventry-based artist John Yeadon will be opening his solo show “What is the meaning of this” – a collection of his paintings created in the 1980s along with some recent pieces.

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Keep up-to date with all the latest events by following them on Facebook.

Artist Spotlight: Jack Foster

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Coventry artist Jack Foster has recently returned from a month-long residency in Dresden, Germany as part of the Coventry-Dresden Arts Exchange. This artist-led grassroots initiative was set up by Coventry-based artist John Yeadon back in 2012 to develop dialogue and establish collaborative partnerships between artists from both cities.

We visited Jack’s current solo show “Dresden Paintings” at Classroom Gallery, and have interviewed him to find out more about his stay in Dresden, and this wonderful collection of paintings produced during his residency.

How did you enjoy your stay in Dresden?

I went to Dresden without knowing how I’d respond to seclusion of various kinds- spatial and societal, for the most part. I spoke some German but not enough to hold a conversation worth having. A month is a long time to run an experiment like that on yourself but I learned a lot.

My hosts, Anne and Christian Manss, could not have been more welcoming. They kept me alive for a month whilst I got the painting done.

Dresden was beautiful but extremely cold at the time (February) so I lived between my guest room at and my studio, which I shared with Christian and Anne. I met some great people in Dresden and the experience was invaluable.

Before travelling to Dresden, did you set any objectives, that you wished to achieve through your residency?

I hadn’t had too much time or space to paint in the months leading up to the residency but I had a few sketchbooks filled with ideas. My main objective was to see where I was as a painter. My work tends to tread a line between figurative representation and painterly abstraction and I go back and forth between the two.

Previous to Dresden, I addressed painting in a slightly more playful way, I wasn’t painting with any serious technicality or concern for colour theory. The work that I made was largely based on background figures and drapery in old masters paintings so I wanted to re-learn how to paint, to a degree.

My palette was stripped back to four or five colours (as opposed to my bags of hundreds of tubes that I usually work with), this forced be to get the most out of those colours and figure out new ways to use them. The decision to limit myself in this way also negated most of the decision paralysis when it came to mixing up colours due to the fact that I was mostly working in tone.

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What projects did you work on during your stay?

The sketches that I compiled previous to the residency were of draped fabrics, background figures and areas of light and shade- all lifted from old masters paintings, drawn and re-drawn out of context until they became their own image.

These were my starting point and I wrestled with them for a month.

‘Economy of mark’ is a phrase that my friend Mircea Taleaga used when he came to give a guest lecture about his work at Coventry university where I teach. The phrase, as far as I can see, originated with him but I’ve adopted it as a really useful way of talking about the amount of brush marks used to suggest form.

In a lot of classical portraiture, the faces could be said to have a low economy of mark (lots of marks to create the forms) whereas the drapery, background figures and even the sitter’s hands often had quite a high economy of mark (fewer marks to create the form, often tonal sketches).

I am interested in using the spectrum of this economy in different ways. Looking at a painting in this way works like a visual map of time spent in various places, it’s a sort of document of attention.

How do you feel that your time in Dresden benefited your creative practice?

It’s rare to get so much time to think about painting.

I’m able to do things with paint that I simply couldn’t do before, the time spent with just a few colours has been almost as important as the years spent with my collection of hundreds of colours.

What themes do your paintings explore?

Previous work has been about pattern seeking and superstition, In life, literature and In painting. I’ve painted a lot of Skinner Boxes- animal boxes from BF skinner’s famous experiments. I show these boxes alongside some paintings of drapery with suggested figuration.

I like to take things out of images when they should be there and put things In when they shouldn’t be.

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Draped fabric appears in many of the paintings in your solo show. Tell us a little more about this.

The draped fabrics started to come into my work as a bit of a joke, I painted a few which looked like a kid’s terrible ghost costume or something but the paintings looked more serious. There was no foot coming from underneath the sheet and the proportions weren’t human so they were just these draped forms, moving without an author.

They were also sort of about the way people approach semi-abstraction when looking at paintings, there’s almost a frustration for the image to be fully explicable.

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What’s next for you now as an artist?

I’m making more sketches and I’ll figure out what they are later when I try to paint them. After that I’ll try to show them somewhere.

Where can people go to find out more about your work?

For now my Instagram is the best place @jack_foster_artist

 

Jack’s solo show “Dresden Paintings” is currently on display at Classroom Gallery, open Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 – 4pm, or viewing by appointment, until the end of April 2018.

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The Collective//Pod welcome their new artist in residence

Flying the Skies, Breathing the Earth.

The Collective//Pod (The Pod’s arts collective) advocate the importance of creativity to mental health and wellbeing. They explore the way in which creativity challenges and infiltrates what we do and how we feel, on a conscious and subconscious level. The Collective//Pod work with artists who explore issues surrounding mental health, and their latest artist in residence is contemporary textile artist, Anthony Stevens.

His solo show “SAID THE BIRD”, will be on display at the Coventry Centre of Contemporary Art (CCCA), Fargo Village from 13th April 2018. We’ve interviewed Anthony to find out more about his work, and what we can expect from his exhibition.

Here’s what he has to say:

You describe yourself as a self-taught “Textile Artist” – how did you get into exploring textiles as a medium for your work?

Well, gravitating to textiles, sewing and embroidery was really quite a natural process. My mom used to be a very good dressmaker and would make a lot of clothes for my sister. Due to this there were a lot of fabrics around the house. I was quite fascinated by what my mom was doing and even more fascinated by the contents of her sewing box, so to keep me occupied she would make little cloth bags and draw designs on to them, she would then get me to embroider in the design with bits of wool etc. I had forgotten about these memories until in more recent years, I was going through a very difficult time emotionally and I ended up buying a large bag of cheap colourful fabric scraps with the idea of making t-shirt designs to keep me occupied, however, I found that the process of sifting and sorting, looking closely at each scrap for it’s value in the bigger picture was very similar to the process I was going through in my inner life. So from this initial bag of scraps I made a number of collages, most of which I gave away as presents.

So in a nutshell, textiles are embedded in my life.

What process do you go through when creating your artwork?

My creative process is directly connected to all the other areas of my life, particularly my Buddhist practice and my dreams. I find both of these things filter perhaps more subconscious areas of my life and provide a rich source of material. Generally, an idea, image or phrase will pop up during my chanting or through a dream accompanied by bit of a charged feeling that this is something worth working with. Depending on circumstance, I will either make a quick sketch or a little painting and pop it away for a later time, or get right into the textile stage, it depends on how urgent it feels. I will then go through my fabric scraps, selecting the pieces that appeal and start arranging them into a collage that I like the look of. I then back this onto calico with glue and pins and stitch it together. I then draw the design on top and start embroidering the image.

As this is quite a slow process, I often get the deeper personal meanings that the image represents to me and will also add the associations that come up to the image during the work. In some ways, working like this combined with my Buddhist practice becomes a sort of self-analysis, I get to understand myself a bit more. I also find that the texture of the fabric changes with all the handling it gets, it becomes softer but paradoxically stronger due to the layering and stitching. I like to think that this is what happens to people when given care and consideration, maybe also my inner life too?

It’s a good way to record passing moods which become very present during the making process. Anxiety, impatience and anger tend to show up as busyness, puckers and snags and easier emotions show up as relatively smooth surfaces and spaciousness. The background is just as important as the image. I will more often than not use stripes in my work, apart from being something that I find pleasing to look at, they represent to me the ongoing process of life and death, dreaming and waking, consciousness and unconsciousness. I also like small details, as this encourages people to look closer and perhaps for longer. Again, I like the idea that this skill could be transferred to our daily lives.

What themes does your work explore?

I guess personal reactions and feelings regarding social issues, past and present experiences. I am interested in the inner dynamics of life and how these things manifest in the outer world. Why are we the way we are and why do we do what we do? I am also interested in how the processes that happen to us in our lives as human beings are often reflected in the wider processes of the world and even the universe. The constant change, decline, and eventual dispersal and recycling of matter. It’s quite mind blowing and it all happens in our own bodies as well as ‘out there’ in the world.

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Who and what do you draw inspiration from?

Ooh, all manner of things. I love punk, it’s DIY mentality, the music, the taking ownership of your life, actually, it’s these things that I also really like about Buddhism. I am also inspired by all manner of people, especially people who are able to develop their ideals and live in a way that is true to themselves and their innate humanity. It gives me courage to come across people like this. I feel that encounters with people like this hit a visceral place in my gut.

From an art perspective, I am really inspired by one of my favourite artists, the painter, Rose Wiley, I love the fact that she has painted for years with little acknowledgment and not given up on what she loves. Her work to me is full of effort, skill and years of devotion and now it is bearing fruit. When I see her work, I feel glad to be alive. That is no small thing!

Tell us a little about what we can expect to see at your solo show at the CCCA

The title of the show is ‘SAID THE BIRD’. The embroideries on show will be a mixture of older pieces, newer pieces that I haven’t shown yet, and a few pieces I am making specifically for the exhibition. The bird motif shows up in my work a lot. It came from a series of three events several years ago. The first was a dream of a bird struggling to escape from a water fountain and fly away (it did). The day after this, one of my cats brought in a bird, which appeared dead, so I popped it outside in a plant pot. However, it was very cold and something in my gut told me to bring the bird back in. I did this and placed it’s, what I thought was lifeless body in a shoebox by the shrine in my studio. The next morning the bird was flying around my studio and I was able to open the window and let it fly away. The third event happened later that same week when a friend of mine who is a ceramicist, came over to have dinner and brought as a gift, a beautiful clay bird she had made. So, after so many cosmic prods, I thought it wise to start including the bird in my work. Since that time, the bird has come to represent objective wisdom, the ability to be able to take in the bigger picture, to get the birds eye view of whatever I am trying to put across in my work.

During the span of the exhibition, I will also be making a rag book from donated fabrics from the residents of Coventry. The book will have the same title as the show. This will take place during my residency at The Pod. There will also be music and dance at the private view on 13th April, so it will be a wonderful, beautiful collaborative event! I feel very excited and appreciative…cheers Coventry!

“SAID THE BIRD” at the CCCA, Fargo Village opening times will run as follows:

Private view: 13th April, 4:30-6:30pm

14th April – 20th May 2018:
Fridays/Saturdays 11am – 4pm
Sundays 11am – 2pm.
Viewing also by appointment: Telephone 024 7678 6680.
Contact:
POD.Enquiries@coventry.gov.uk

 We can’t wait to get along to see it!

The Birth of Dionysus

 

Artist Spotlight: Laura Nyahuye

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Laura Nyahuye is a talented Coventry artist and founder of Maokwo, a social enterprise exploring ways in which creativity can bring communities together.

Laura recently put on an incredibly successful and moving event at The Belgrade “I MIGRATED” on International Women’s Day. This included an exhibition of her stunning wearable art, striking photography, plus a remarkable series of performances including singing, spoken word, poetry and dance, plus some powerful talks addressing social issues.

We were lucky enough to meet Laura at the event and have since interviewed her to find out more about her own creative practice, and the impressive work she is doing in the community. Here’s what she has to say:

Tell us a little about the concept behind Maokwo

At Maokwo we use art and observational counselling as a vehicle for positive change. We work with women, migrant communities; our work reaches out to communities and individuals from all backgrounds. Our aim is to tackle isolation and mental health challenges. We promote integration and wellbeing in communities. Our services are very adaptable and broaden to families, children and local institutions where there is need. To top it all we support front line staff who work with migrant communities.

What I love about the Maokwo concept is that we work from experience. We have faced the hardships of life, we know what it is like to lack, to face domestic abuse, discrimination, tokenism, loss, isolation, mental abuse, we are that neighbour next door. Some call it working from the bottom up. We identify with our participants and the participants identify with us.

What inspired you to start this remarkable work in the community?

 Personal challenges and conversations in community settings.

My personal journey since migrating from Zimbabwe has been full of challenges and positives – it’s a standalone book waiting to be written! The challenges l faced seemed to fan a fire within me.

During that challenging time, a woman (whom l now call Mom, she was truly God sent) encouraged me to get involved in community work offering art and craft activities. The more activities we offered more conversations came up! (I love talking and a good laugh!).

Most of the conversations struck a chord within me and before l knew it, the fire within became a blazing flame! There was a repetition of concerns everywhere I went. Lack of integration, isolation, domestic abuse, family issues, discrimination, mental health challenges, tick box issues to name a few. I felt so much at home in community groups from all backgrounds and vice versa, participants felt comfortable. We had many things in common.

Despite all the challenges two things helped me cope. It was my time Faith and my creative practice. As much as I identified with my participants, there was an inner strength that kept me going and it was those two points. (There is a creative writing at the current ‘I Migrate’ exhibition entitled ‘my faith my Sanity’ it touches on that)

As I was healing little by little I realised how this process can actually work for others.

In a nutshell, as I was going through the real life pains and struggles of life, and I sat down and cried with the fellow women in our community groups, Maokwo was being born – I just didn’t know it.

Yes, in life, challenges continue to come and go, however life has taught me, and continues to teach me, that there is beauty in the ashes of life. Keep going, somebody somewhere is waiting for you to take that step of faith and its well worth it.

What workshops are you currently running?

We are currently running ‘Breathe’ workshops at the Belgrade theatre every Friday from 11 to 2pm until the end the of March.

Breath encourages us to “press pause” and do something outside the normal day to day activities of life. Come and creatively express yourself . We are delivering workshops for CRMC – great partnerships coming up!

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Where can people go to find out more about these?

People can visit our twitter page – @maokwo

Instagram pages – @maokwo or @laura_nyahuye

Website address https://www.maokwo.com/

Now about your own creative practice – what type of artist would you describe yourself as?

 I see myself as an artist activist.

What inspires your own creativity?

My creativity is inspired by injustice and a desire to see hope and freedom in human lives. Women’s issues and community issues.

Tell us a little about the symbolism behind the striking body adornments that you had on display at The Belgrade

 The body adornments are to raise awareness of what’s going on right now in the day to day life of a migrant woman. They are helping to showcase the innermost thoughts of a migrant woman. These are stories and intimate details you don’t get to hear over a cup of tea. They are stories that need to be told with some creativity. We are living in a society were migration should be a norm, unfortunately it’s the opposite.

I often wonder, what about the younger generation? Do I want them to face the same obstacles I faced as a migrant woman? NO!

So, as a mother and an artist what can I do to challenge perceptions and to educate the next generation. To highlight that we are ALL human with red blood flowing through our veins.

Body adornments, for centuries have been used to define cultural, social, or religious status in various communities. During my studies, adornments struck me as a symbol that have the potential to communicate various subjects or strike up conversations (I’ve had a lot of conversations as a result of wearing some of the adornments).

Body adornments are such are powerful means of communication. Look at the Masai tribe and the Kayan tribe. Interesting depiction of status and identity.

It fascinates me how body adornments are used by different cultures to communicate different messages. In my case I intend to use the handcrafted body adornments to tell various stories.

The body adornments are also on sale and can be made to order.

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 Have you any plans for future creative projects?

For the ‘I MIGRATED’ exhibition the plan is to migrate around the UK and eventually outside the UK.

For Maokwo workshops our partnerships are expanding and we are building more collaborative projects and that is exciting!

We have activist activities in the pipeline!

The “I MIGRATED exhibition will be on display at The Belgrade until 31st March 2018 .28795864_1630410190368635_9142424792298793102_n

See more details of Laura’s forthcoming workshops below:

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create and talk for young workshops

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Exciting exposition of art and engineering coming to Coventry

Festival of Imagineers 2017

Coventry based creative productions organisation Imagineer have been awarded £600,000 by the Arts Council of England to launch an intriguing and ambitious project.

“Bridge” is a three-year programme of extraordinary outdoor arts across the Midlands, and will be launched this September at Coventry Cathedral. The “Bridge” project celebrates the intersection of art, engineering & social change.

The project will explore themes of bridge building, ‘fierce kindness’ and human progress.

Imagineer will collaborate with artists and civil engineers, to produce three major events in Coventry, Worcester & Grantham over the next three years. An iconic bridge structure will inhabit public spaces for two weeks at a time, inspiring and framing spectacular, immersive live performances, creative community responses and interactive lighting / digital animations.

We can’t wait to see this when it hits Coventry.

Find out more about this exciting project here.

 

Artist Spotlight: Martin Green

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Coventry based artist Martin Green is renowned for his use of found objects, which he has collected and categorised for decades. These form the medium for his art and his recent project “How do I know if I’m addicted” comprised of a site specific installation and live curation event at the inaugural Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art last year. We interviewed Martin following the event to find out more about this project, and what influences his creative practice.

What type of artist would you describe yourself as?

On my instagram page I use the strap line Artist, Writer, Live Curation Events, Sculp-poetics, this description starts to broadly outline my interests and approach.

How has your practice developed over the years?

My current practice is about making/finding a series/sequence/collection of small sculptural components/elements. Sometimes a mass of components are assembled together in response to an exhibition environment. Hundreds of small pieces are arranged to command, transform and challenge a large architectural space. The components are arranged differently each time depending upon the idiosyncrasies of the exhibition space. The individual elements are placed in reaction to the floor they are directly placed on. The placement of the components is influenced by my response to the history and proportions of the floor.

As an art student I made abstract paintings with un-stretched canvas while at the same time collecting street and bin ephemera, but I kept them as two very separate disciplines, stretching me thin in opposite directions. The three most recently completed pieces explore the qualities of double sided paintings and collages displayed alongside found, transformed or acquired objects.

You are renown for use of collected, found objects – how do these relate to the themes you explore in your work?

I have been drawn to found objects since 1976 when I compulsively started to collect passport photographs, which were discarded in the vicinity of photo booths mainly in Central and South London. Over 13 years I amassed thousands of found photographs, a street archive, a document of a specific time. After a period of not street collecting I exhibited 19 found photo booth photographs in a 2008 group show, Beauty and the Disregarded, curated by Lorsen Camps. The exhibition prompted me to ask myself the question, ‘if I started collecting again what would I collect’. This question resulted in a archive of baseball cap peaks, cigarette lighters, wheel weights, hub cap retention wires, sea potatoes, inhalers, mascara, make up brushes, umbrella canopies, piano peel, baggies, zip pulls, suitcase wheels, brick sapping. This collection is the antecedence of my current practice.

I often have no obvious relationship or connection with the found object and I force myself to find a response, a back-story and a new myth; through this process I make work that can change direction and produce outcomes that I would not envisage or predict. I see the completed sculptures made up of two parts, one that originates from inside the studio and one that is from outside the studio, the outside world so to speak. These two parts define both my creativity and the environment where I live and work.

Who and what do you draw inspiration from?

Visiting galleries, the momentum of studio practice, using my past as a source material, making the unknown and an addiction to being distracted, is what feeds me.

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Tell us about your project for the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art – “How do I know if I’m addicted?”:

‘How do I know if I am addicted’ is a generic theme for all of the work that I have made since March 2017, the specific title for the piece placed in the office well at the CBCA is – ‘Tell me what is the term for drawing the face of an idealised deity over a self portrait?’ ‘Tell me’, for short, comprises of 90 double-sided paintings that are made in batches of 5; the first and last sets of five are based on an absurd theory that wild birds are adopting national identities and their plumage is changing through the influence of flags and aeroplane insignia.

Which found objects were used in this piece, and what was the significance of them?

‘Tell me’ includes 270 found nitrous oxide canisters wrapped in snippets of colour photographs from daily newspapers, wire that is left over from the process of dismantling a lot of note books that contained confidential data, found yellow V bristles from road sweepers, small pieces of BT wire found around the vicinity of the green street boxes, small mounds of dirt that came from the process of cleaning the Coventry Cathedral tapestry, Sutherland Grime.

Please explain the distinct shapes of each of the paintings exhibited in the installation, and why they were double sided.

The double-sided paintings have a front/intended side and a reverse/accidental side, qualities that I see in every day objects as distinct from the qualities of art objects.

I describe the shapes as architectonic, relating to architecture; in this case the shapes have the Coventry Ring Road T columns and the New Cathedral as their starting points.

In the version of ‘Tell Me’ at CBCA each of the double sided paintings balance on three coated nitrous oxide canisters, each positioned next to a hole/scar in 1950’s industrial lino.

The terms “acquiesce” and “dissent’ were repeatedly used in your drafted plans for the installation and live curation – forming the way in which the work appeared to organised. Please explain the importance of these terms to “How do I know if I’m addicted?”

There were three pieces on show at CBCA, 1.Tell Me. 2.Acquiesce and Dissent. 3.Mirror. ‘Acquiesce and Dissent’ comprises of 16 double-sided diptyches that were placed in an office cupboard alongside colour-coded tables that are based on an administrative aesthetic that I use in my full time employment.

‘Acquiesce’ means that you do something reluctantly but without protest and ‘Dissent’ is the opposite of Acquiesce. This piece references the dilemma of being an artist and at the same time having to work full time at another occupation to pay the bills. Acquiesce is how I describe my response to this dilemma / reality.

How did you create the backing soundtrack for the live curation?

‘Tell me’ was placed in an abandoned newspaper / editorial office. Part of the vast false blue tiled floor had been removed to create a well that revealed a floor that originates from the period when the building was first opened. 1950’s industrial brown lino peppered with a matrix of scars from where the stunted pillars that held up a false floor had been ripped out to leave holes in the lino that exposed the warp and weft of the hessian backing. I noticed that if you carefully stroked the remains of the hessian it played and sounded like a toy guitar, of the 100 scars 60 played and were recorded and was used as background to the live curation event Acquiesce and Dissent.

Have you any plans to continue to develop the project further?

I have removed a long section of the lino from the CET building and I will incorporate it in the next showing of ‘Tell Me’.

What’s next for you as an artist?

In 2017 I took part in eight projects, so after an intense period of exhibiting I now need an intense period of making new work. I am planning and in dialogue about a project that coincides with the 70th anniversary of the death of Kurt Schwitters.

Where can people go to find out more about your work?

I am happy for people to visit me at the studio by appointment, email martingreen618@btinternet.com and follow me on Instagram

New residency announced for Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange!

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Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange have announced a new month-long residency (February 2018) in Dresden for Coventry based artist Jack Foster, hosted by Dresden artist Christian Manss.

Born in Coventry, Jack is a 26 year old painter and a graduate of Coventry University. He currently lectures on the Foundation Art and Design Course at Coventry University. Jack has had solo exhibitions and group shows in London and the Midlands. He was the 2013 winner of Coventry University Drawing Prize from which he was an artist in residence at Rugby School, teaching and creating a new body of work.

This pilot residency programme is been supported by Coventry City Council a Small Arts Grant. Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange hope to make these Exchange residencies a regular feature of their activities.

Dresden artist Alexandra Müller was artist in residence in Coventry in July-August 2017, hosted by John Yeadon. The residency was a great success and Alexandra was a perfect ambassador for Dresden and Dresden artists. She had an open studio and a final exhibition in City Arcadia Gallery, which were well attended with over 60 visitors, amongst these visitors was The Lord Mayor of Coventry and the Dean of Coventry Cathedral. Alexandra visited museums and historic sites in Coventry including the Cathedral, also visiting artists studios in Coventry and Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire plus art galleries in London and Birmingham accompanied by Coventry artists.

Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange is a personal initiative of Coventry based artist John Yeadon and has been active since 01/06/2012. It was formed into an Unincorporated Artist Association in 01/04/2015. The Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange is an artists-led grassroots initiative, which seeks to develop dialogue between artists from the cities of Coventry and Dresden and to establish collaborative partnerships of exchanges, exhibitions, educational projects and forums.

Since 2012 they have had 6 collaborative exhibitions with Dresden artists in both cities. With over 1,000 visitors at the Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange exhibition at Pillnitz Castle during the Elbhangfest in 2016.

We are looking forward to seeing how Jack gets on during his stay in Dresden.

Emerging Art, Emerging Place

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The cold, damp January weather certainly didn’t deter the crowds from turning out for this motivating event at the CET Building. Set in the old press room, attendees were immersed in Jonny Bark’s (the event organiser), atmospheric “Inhabiting Edgelands” installation, which occupied the space in which the event took place.

Emerging Art, Emerging Place was devised to focus on how artists in Coventry can capitalise on the City of Culture 2021 win. The event consisted of three powerful talks from Jonny Bark, photographer, researcher and lecturer, Ryan Hughes, Director of Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art and Birmingham based photographer Nilupa Yasmin. Following these talks, artists mingled with industry professionals from across the midlands for an inspiring and uplifting networking session.

It was exciting to hear from Ryan Hughes about the successes of the inaugural Coventry Biennial, and the incredibly positive impact that the festival had on the city:

  • The event saw over 24,000 attendees
  • 60% of the attendees were from outside Coventry
  • 35% of the attendees had never been to Coventry before
  • ¼ of the Biennial attendees were under the age of 20.

Some impressive stats here, and pleasing to see that such a young audience are really engaging with Coventry’s Visual Arts.

Ryan has experienced a huge amount of national interest in the Visual Arts scene in Coventry, from many high-profile arts organisations from across the country, so there is no denying that Coventry is making its mark in the art world.

Nilupa Yamsin then gave us a little more insight into the themes that she explores in her own creative practice, and talked about the opportunities that the City of Culture Bid brought to her as an artist. Her project “Grow me a Waterlily” became a huge focus in the promotion of the City of Culture Bid, and this in turn really spring-boarded her career. She is now exhibiting at the Argentea Gallery, Birmingham and is working with Coventry-based organisation, The Photo Miners on a commission based around Foleshill. Nilupa’s tips for success included, taking up voluntary opportunities with leading art organisations to get your foot in the door. Nilupa has also utilised the power of social media to promote herself as an artist, and has been approached for work through this.

Jonny Bark closed the talks highlighting the importance of networking with industry professionals to help to push your career forward. Its all very well having the talent, but taking the time to get yourself out there is just as important. Jonny couldn’t stress enough the importance of seizing opportunities when you have the chance, and the Coventry win of the City of Culture 2021 couldn’t be a better prospect facing creative individuals in the city right now.

Following these powerful and insightful talks, everyone had the chance to mingle and discuss their work with leading Visual Arts organisations from across the Midlands, and revel in the opportunities that artists in the city are now faced with. This is an unbelievably exciting time for Coventry artists, and this event really brought together the creative community in the city. Emerging Art, Emerging Place proved that there is a powerful support system in place within this community. This is something that all Coventry artists should be tapping into. Never underestimate the importance of networking if you are looking to advance your career in the industry.

We want to say a massive well done to Jonny Bark, and all who were involved in making this event happen. It really did leave attendees bursting with excitement for what the future of the city may hold.

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This week’s exhibition round-up

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So it’s been another busy week for art lovers in Coventry! We managed to get along to three private viewings:

Thursday evening saw the opening of “Visual Stream” by Jeff Dellow at the Lanchester Gallery, and was wonderfully curated by Matthew Macaulay, Director of Class Room, Coventry. A vibrant collection of abstract paintings, layering geometric shapes with brash criss-crossing patterns. Dellow’s paintings feature contrasting colours and forms, interwoven and broken up through more subtle and delicately placed shapes and layers – lightly exposing the harsher patterns underneath. We managed to get hold of a copy of the exhibition brochure, which features a great write-up of Dellow’s work and Matthew’s enlightening interview with the artist.

The exhibition will continue to run Monday – Friday, 11am – 4:30pm until the 2nd of Feb. Be sure to check this out!

 

Friday evening we got along to the opening of Warwickshire based artist Tammy Woodrow’s exhibition of her latest sculptural work; “Concatenation: interconnected things at City Arcadia Gallery. A collection of miniature sculptures, which appear reflective of the constructivist movement. On the other hand, there is an exploration into the idea of the way in which everything in the universe in interconnected in some way. Found fishing floats used in her sculptures could be symbolic of rippling water – a comparison of the “butterfly effect” and “string theory”. The way in which they are presented in the gallery space is as if each sculpture is floating in a white universe.

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, Tammy will be creating a series of drawings inspired by the sculptures and handing them out for free to the public.

The exhibition will run every day 10am-4pm until Thursday 18th Jan, when she will be holding an exclusive experimental sculpture workshop – see her website for more details:

https://tammywoodrow.jimdo.com/

 

After visiting the opening of Tammy’s exhibition we then headed over to the CET Building for the opening of “Prelude” a mid-year showcase of the 3rd year Fine Art Students at Coventry University. The room was packed and saw over 150 people attending the Private View – a great turn out for the students. An impressive collection of artwork spanning from both figurative and abstract painting, photography, digital imagery, plus some thought-provoking installation pieces. Again, the level of talent this year is really high. This will be open until Tuesday 16th January. We’re looking forward to seeing the final degree show now this summer!

Artist Spotlight: Alan Van Wijgerden

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Renowned local photographer Alan Van Wijgerden has been capturing images of the Coventry for decades. His vast collection of hundreds of thousands of images, tell stories of the history of the city from over 40 years.

He is currently exhibiting a collection of work titled “Fun Factory” at Class Room Gallery (open until 14th Jan 2018). This captivating selection of images are a documentation of the lives of Fine Art students in Coventry in the 80s. He captured protests, gritty student accommodation, music gigs plus a record of work at the degree show.

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We’ve chatted to Alan to find out a little bit more about his photography. Here is what he had to say:

When did you first get into photography?

I first got into photography when I was about 12 with a brownie type camera cutting people heads off which I still hate now.

What type of photographer would you describe yourself as?

Primarily a documentary photographer, although I have done a lot of architectural photography.

We were fascinated by your “Fun Factory” exhibition at Class Room GalleryWhat was it about the lives of the Fine Art students in the 80s that drew your interest in?

I first became interested in Fine Art when I met students in the art-fac canteen then the best cafe in the poly. It was interesting and exciting, very active politically.

What other subjects and themes has your photography explored over the years?

Mainly architectural and demonstrations.

What and who do you draw inspiration from?

I draw most inspiration I would say from the Magnum photographers and Walker Evans.

Have you got any future projects in the pipeline?

Yes there’s several photo projects in the offing and also several videos.

Where can people follow you to find out more?

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/wijgerden

Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/134520525@N07/

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Curating Coventry’s Highlights of 2017

 

We are still buzzing from the announcement of Coventry’s win of the City of Culture 2021, and as the year is drawing to a close, we’ve been looking back at what an incredible mix of visual arts that the city has enjoyed in 2017. Coventry is a hive of creativity, and this is such an exciting time to be in this innovative city.

Here are a few of our highlights from 2017:

The Inaugural Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art

The biggest visual arts festival the city has ever seen.  The vast programme consisted of 13 exhibitions and over 60 events, featuring a diverse selection of local, national and international artists. The Biennial launch night alone saw over 1,000 attendees at the CET building! One thing is for certain – the event sure drew in the crowds.

Click here for our write up on this event.

 

 

Spon Spun Festival

An impressive selection of creative workshops were held throughout August, open for anyone to attend. The festival weekend on 9th and 10th September had a super exciting programme, for all the family to enjoy, including creative activities, music, theatre, delicious food and the remarkable Spon Spun Art Trail. The community really got involved in exploring their creativity and enjoying the talent of others. We especially enjoyed exploring the Art Trail on the festival Sunday – see our journey here.

 

 

Scratch the Surface – Dialogue Festival

The aim of the festival was to celebrate the provocative and vanguard, and bought together a vast programme of cultural activists and arts organisations both local, national and international. The 11-day festival surrounding mental health, was sensitively executed and addressed many taboo subject matters in an incredibly liberating way. A remarkable, inspiring and thought-provoking event.

See more from our round-up here.

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Festival of the Imagineers

Linking art, design and engineering, the Festival of Imagineers delivered a riveting week-long programme incorporating local, national and international creative talent. This unique festival included outdoor and site specific performance, art installations and interactive experiences for everyone to get involved in. We especially loved Luke Jerram’s “Museum of the Moon”.