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.

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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