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

Our Q&A with Coventry Biennial

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#ArtChatCov is our monthly artist networking Twitter Chat where you can find out news and updates from Coventry’s artists and visual arts scene.

On Wednesday 25th September we ran a Coventry Biennial special #ArtChatCov featuring a live Q&A with the team behind the Biennial week ahead of it’s opening.

If you missed it on Twitter, here’s a quick recap on what we chatted about on the night…

What inspired the theme “The Twin” for this year’s #CovBiennial?

Coventry now has 26 twinned cities across the world. The first being Volgograd. This year marks 75 years since the historic bond of friendship was formed.

What better way to pay tribute to this!

We think so! There are so many cities that might take some people by surprise. Like… Kingston Jamaica.

It’s also worth remembering the quote by Bifo from our printed programmes about extinction and immortality. The Twin the double and feedback loops define our age, this feels urgent for a Social Biennial.

How did you go about selecting the artists you have chosen to exhibit at this year’s event?

The selection of artists for Coventry Biennial has been rooted in our curatorial research for the past 2 years. Lots of visits to studios, galleries and festivals – we see as much work as we can and then work out what makes sense together and in relation to the theme.

Must have been a busy two years then. How many artists are exhibiting in total?

More than 100 artists. Certainly an increase from 2017!

Where can people go to view the programme for this year’s event?

You can visit http://coventrybiennial.com for the full listings or printed biennial brochures are available now around the West Midlands and online at: http://bit.ly/2019BiennialBrochure

Lots to see and do! Including workshops, talks and screenings. There’s even Artist-led-yoga! All of the exhibitions are free to attend and many other events are, pay what you can.

Which Coventry venues will the Biennial be running across?

All of our venues can be viewed via http://coventrybiennial.com/venues/ BUT you’ll get to explore art galleries, artist’s studios, cafes, modernist buildings and medieval spaces. There are lots of places to explore this year. 21 in fact!

Could you recommend a starting point for people coming into #Coventry to view the exhibitions of the Biennial?

The two best starting points would either be The Row (an amazing ex-NHS building in the city centre) and The Herbert. These are our two biggest exhibitions. We’d fully recommend exploring the smaller spaces too. Weavers House is stunning!

Lovely to hear that historic venues such as Weavers House are part of the Coventry Biennial.

Yes, it feels really exciting to be working in some of Coventry’s historic spaces. Older building and very contemporary artistic practices seem to really work together and can provide something genuinely unexpected.

Are the opening events on 4th October open to anyone to attend? If so, do you need to purchase tickets?

No need to purchase, but you do need to register. Everybody is welcome. Some events have limited space just book in advance. The website is listed by date, so you have a handy guide of what’s on for the day.

Well thanks for joining us for #ArtChatCov this evening. We can’t wait till the opening night!

Thanks for having us #ArtChatCov. Please keep your eyes on our Social Media pages (@CovBiennial) for behind the scenes glimpses of the Biennial.

We’ll see you for the launch!

 

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Join us for a live Q&A with the team behind Coventry Biennial!

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This month we’re thrilled to announce that the team behind the Coventry Biennial (taking place on 4th October – 24th November) will be joining us as special guests for #ArtChatCov.

Join us for a live Q&A on Twitter on Wednesday 25th September 8-9pm – just over a week before the Biennial opens, and get involved in the conversation. See what they have planned over the coming weeks, and chat to Coventry Biennial Director Ryan Hughes.

How to get involved

Simply log into Twitter between 8-9pm on Wed 25th September, follow the hashtag #ArtChatCov and join the conversation (making sure you add the hashtag to your tweets!).

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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