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
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.
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.
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.
The owners of Coventry’s Shop Front Theatre have opened an exhibition of their own work responding to the current crisis.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
‘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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Coventry/Dresden Arts Exchange are looking for a Coventry artist to take part in a month long residency in Dresden for September 2020.
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