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.

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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

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Our first #ArtChatCov of 2019

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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!