“Quinn: A Journey” at The Herbert Gallery

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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.

 

 

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.