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
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
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
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
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
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)
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.
2nd left top – Karen Lawrence
2nd left bottom – Tara Rutledge
Large right-hand – Victoria M
Wonder at The Herbert
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
(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
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.
(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
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.