Follow “The Van Trip” Live Art Journey – From East to West with Love

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Thursday the 7th June, we will witness an open top truck loaded with a tonne of bread and salt, depart from Whitley Depot, Coventry on a 1072 mile journey to Łódź, Poland, as part of a live art, transient performance by Coventry-based contemporary artists Rob Hamp and Emilia Moniszko.

The Van Trip is Phase 2 of From East to West With Love – a project which aims to establish unity, dialogue and connections between Eastern and Western Europeans.

You can follow this outreaching trip live via their social media channels, where Coventry-based film-maker Ivan Petkov will provide real-time documentation of the journey.

To put the concept of the Van Trip in better context, here’s an insight into the history of From East to West with Love:

Phase One – The Visitor was a programme of events, an exhibition, public discussions and an artist residency, that took place in September-November 2016 in Coventry, and Łódź, Poland.  The events encouraged arts professionals, academics and the local cultural community to connect and engage with each other whilst identifying and questioning cultural changes. One of Poland’s most radical artists Pawel Hajncel was their artist in residence. He created a performance titled “‘Patriotism for Sale’ in which he addressed the attitudes of migrants who fled their home countries in pursuit of sustainable future.

The objectives of From East to West with Love are to:

  • Place Coventry as a centre for experimental contemporary arts in Britain, free from discrimination resulting from today’s political climate
  • Establish communications between European artists, cultural agents and the general public in order to contribute to a positive image of Europe
  • Attract a diverse range of audiences from different backgrounds in order to release the segregation of the migrant community
  • Create personal development opportunities in curation, communication and event coordination positions
  • Document all elements of the project, to provide material to contribute towards Coventry’s future vision
  • Establish strong relationships between cultural agents and arts facilitators in Coventry and Łódź, in order to create culturally twinned cities.

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SO back to Phase 2 – The Van Trip

Why transport a tonne of bread and salt?

In Poland bread and salt are a symbol of hospitality – a way of welcoming people. Bread symbolises the wish that the recipient will live in abundance, while salt is a reminder of the difficulties that we learn to overcome in life.

Łódź is geographically situated in the centre of Poland, as Coventry is to England. Like Coventry, it is a city with a long-standing industrial history – a connection that is significant to the project, and perfect grounds for twinning the two cities.

Check out this video by the artists to give you more of an insight:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgCqYFEgE2g

Who knows what experiences, interactions and events they will encounter as we follow this outbound journey, crossing borders, boundaries and undoing the framework of state lines.

Stay tuned to their Social Media Channels to find out, and experience The Van Trip with them:

Facebook: @fetwwl

Twitter: @fetwwl

Instagram: @fromeasttowestwithlove

And follow the hashtag #FETWWL

Join their live departure from Coventry on Thursday 7th June via their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/382034575626228/

Watch the arrival approximately two days later at the Punkt Odbioru Sztuki, a Łódź based art gallery where it will then be unloaded:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1637173016403029/

Find out more on the website http://fetwwl.com/

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Become our “Artist of the week”

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At the beginning of May we ran an Instagram Takeover with Coventry 2021 City of Culture Trust. There was an overwhelming response with over 620 images submitted to be featured, showcasing the work of so many talented artists from the city.

Way too many to feature during a one-week Takeover, so Curating Coventry have decided that each week we will continue to feature an artist a week on our Instagram page, until 2021!

Continue to add the hashtag #CuratingCoventry2021 to your work on Instagram for you chance to be our “Artist of the Week”.

In the meantime, we’d encourage artists to explore each other’s work using the hashtag on Instagram and celebrate our city’s creative talent.

Artist Spotlight: John Yeadon

John Y in Studio 2018

Image by Marta Kochanek Photography

Renowned Coventry-based artist John Yeadon will be opening his latest solo show at the CET Building on 18th May. This will feature a retrospective view of paintings produced in the 1980s, which were deemed shocking and controversial at the time, alongside a collection of his more recent work.

We’ve interviewed John to find out more about what we can expect from this forthcoming show:

For those unfamiliar with your work, sum up how you would describe yourself as an artist.

I don’t bother or need to describe myself as an artist, I think that’s for others to do, but I’m happy to talk about the work, which is eclectic. I do, and have done different things at different times in my life and I have reinvented myself a number of times. Essentially I am a painter/printmaker but have explored a number of different territories, as a student at Hornsey and the RCA I was interested in archetypes significantly the Mandala, then in the 70s I was involved in making large silk screen anti-fascist banners, what I regarded as street art, portable paintings, later, photography and I spent a decade working digitally before I retired after 30 years teaching Fine Art at Coventry University (Lanchester Poly, as was) and returned to painting.

I have never had any commercial success, never involved myself in the gallery system or art market. I think the market and the ‘silly money’ has harmed art dramatically. When I left the Royal College of Art the art market hardly existed, there was Bond Street and Cork Street and that was about it, there weren’t any collectors of contemporary art in Britain. Unlike the YBAs (Thatcher’s children) I come from a generation who were critical of the capitalist gallery system. Since the 70s this market has grown immeasurably. But today’s vast art market is not anymore democratic than the elitist small art market of the 60s and 70s, and like pluralism, the market aspires to mediocrity. I have taught all my life, I used to regard teaching in Higher Education as state patronage of the artist, I don’t think like this now, it is not the case today. Teaching has given me the freedom to do whatever I wished to do no matter how unpopular the work might be and not having to pander to a gallery as to what sells. Artists can end on a treadmill, repeating themselves and if successful, they become play things of the rich. Why would you wish to sell a painting to someone who would not even invite you to dinner! I prefer my freedom. Freedom to please yourself is also one of the advantages of being ignored. Even though I have not been involved in the commercial art world I have had over 30 one person exhibitions throughout Britain and abroad, mostly curated and organised by myself. It’s important to get the work ‘out there’.

Others have described my work as: pornographic, transgressive, humorous, political, oppositional, resistance, disquieting, difficult, obsessive, unfashionable and mostly going against the grain. It’s not artists who make up definitions and descriptions of themselves or their work, but critics, journalists and curators. All definitions are limiting. It’s also like asking an Impressionist to explain Impressionism, well, the artist never invented the term or the category!

“What do you mean by Impressionism?” Might be the artists reply.

The 1980s work was categorised as Grotesque Realism or Theatrical Realism.

Obviously there are some descriptions I like and others I don’t. Grotesque Realism was good for me as I developed a great interest in Rabelais, Bakhtin, the Medieval Carnival and the satire of Jonathan Swift. I like the over the top, the larger than life, of the grotesque, where ‘more is more’. For me, Carnival is the history of the ‘popular culture’, a peoples culture. An extra political aspect of the world of human relations which Bakhtin described as a ‘second world…a second life outside officialdom’.

I like to exploit contradictions, paradox and ambivalence and challenge preconceptions. I once said that “paradox was the dialectic of life”, in a slightly more profound moment. My paintings are also somewhere in between autobiography and fiction, but that’s probably true about most art.

At Coventry University I ran an Art History/Liberal Studies Course on Art and Sexuality, (I was going to call it Querys, but was never sure how to spell that, maybe ‘Queeries’). Erotic art was something I was personally interested in, I hoped it wasn’t too limited a topic and that there was enough substance there to make a seminar series. A novel subject but not mainstream nor everybody’s cup of tea. At the time I was using sexual references in my work as a metaphor, as part of an allegory.

During my preparation I realised that in every age whether that be Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, seventeenth century to the twentieth century, or from the art and creation myths of Egypt and Greece, and from the role of women in art, or sexual identity, whether it be from Leonardo to Picasso, Michelangelo to Duchamp, Artemisia Gentilischi to Jo Spence, Fragonard to Hockney, from Caravaggio to Francis Bacon, sexuality is the central theme. I realised that sexuality was fundamental to the history of art as it is to the narrative of our lives. Any art history that ignores sexuality is an incomplete art history and they do ignore it.

Identity is a important theme of art, but ‘branding’ seems important for artists these days. A simple ‘bite size’ description, a signature work. Make it simple. It’s all about the market. Why would you wish to pin yourself down. Actors would run a mile rather than being typecast. Keep them guessing, that’s what I say. There are many different Picassos. Why limit yourself. Like Rabelais, I am interested in lists and in the 2000s I produced a ‘Miscellany of words and phrases associated with food and eating’. Tellingly, ‘branding’ was next to dehorning and castration!

(See johnyeadon.com ART, Full English: Text).

Tell us what featured in your risqué “Dirty Tricks” exhibition at The Herbert in 1984, that we’ll get to see again in “What’s the Meaning of This?”

I don’t regard my work as risqué in any moral sense, I think the painting are highly moral. Essentially I am asking questions. Though I suppose one always risks something when painting. Shouldn’t all artists be taking risks, isn’t that what it’s all about, it’s the viewer who might see the work as risqué in a moral or ethical sense. This is not the artist’s job, self censorship has to be avoided. Some of my work took a kind of courage, non of it comes easy, one might even say it took bravery, even if only overcoming self doubt, but once painted it’s the gallery that has to show courage and the viewer to be up to being challenged. However I do accept that some of the work is provocative and transgressive but its important to expose contradictions and challenge taboos.

Artists need to be extremists, it’s no good upholding the status quo, that’s not a creative strategy. You’ll never do anything new doing that! 

There are a number of works from the Dirty Tricks exhibition in this show, probably many of the paintings that the Coventry Evening Telegraph regarded as ‘smut’ or pornographic. But I cannot speak for what others find offensive. I think racism is offensive, homophobia, nuclear weapons, war, famine, violence, unemployment these are the real obscenities and not images of peoples bodies. My recent work is on the nuclear industry and 50s technology, maybe some will find this offensive, they probably should, but they won’t. Their moral focus and outrage is on bodies and bits of bodies. Kinda makes you to want to offend them!

It’s there in the title for this show. ‘What’s the Meaning of This?’ As I anticipate angry disapproval at what I have done.

How dare I

Control Rooms, Sellafield 2018

What impact did your “Dirty Tricks” exhibition have on your career as an artist?

What impact? Very little. Maybe that’s a bit disingenuous, but nothing noticeable, it did not directly lead anywhere. Most exhibitions don’t, most exhibitions are cul de sacs. Though Dirty Trick was shown at the Pentonville Gallery in London later in the year but that was not a result of the Herbert exhibition, as I had organised this earlier. Sandy Moffat of Glasgow School of Art did say that it was the Dirty Tricks exhibition and the Transmission Gallery in Glasgow which formed my reputation. However my inclusion in the British Art Show of 1985 was not a result of the Herbert show, but at that time the British Art Show was a genuine attempt to represent what was going on in the country and the curators visited studios throughout Britain. In Coventry John Thompson visited the Canal Basin Warehouse where I had a studio.

Having said that, it was a real privilege to show at the Herbert Art Gallery, I had two galleries (one of them now has been turned into storage), you could never get such a space in London unless you were a high profile international artist. I think provincial galleries have an important role in supporting emerging and mid career artists. Sadly the Herbert seems unwilling to curate exhibitions for Coventry or Midland based artists these days, preferring to buy in national touring shows from London museums which I think is curatorially lazy.

How do your recent paintings compare to the ones that you created over 30 years ago?

The 1980s paintings are bigger. Don’t know much more at the moment. The exercise of the exhibition is to compare the works, so I don’t want to predict. I want to look when the show is up. I’d like to be surprised. But who knows.

By comparing disparate work one might find a common denominator, I suppose I would like to find that. A unifying theme, or some underlying idea, that would tell me what to do next, but if I did discover such a thing, a little too late me thinks.

Thinking about this question and looking back at the work there seems to be an interest in ‘monsters’, often as a reference to nuclear weapons as in The Monster from the Nevada Desert, or my transcriptions of Goya’s Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters to my recent paintings of the WITCH computer and Sellafields Nuclear Power Station. Monsters refer back to Grotesque Realism, so maybe I’m still a Grotesque Realist. And that thought is unexpected.

I am curious to see the response of the audience to these 80s paintings in this new context 30 years on. To see how they have survived and what they mean today, how the meanings have transformed. In the 1980s in the face of AIDS paranoia and ‘gay blame’ I painted some homosexual propaganda paintings though not specifically referencing AIDS. Too many other artist were doing work on AIDS. Things were changing in the art world, figurative painting was in the ascendancy and abstract minimalism was out, conceptual formalists and video artists were looking for content and AIDS provided them with a ready made socio-political cause. I did not wish to join the bandwagon. Attitudes to homosexuality have changed, who would have thought that a Tory Government would introduce ‘same sex marriage’. How we see ourselves has changed and how others regard same sex relationships has also by and large transformed. The gay community has changed, the LGBTQ community is more inclusive. But institutional homophobia in the 80s was visceral, ‘gay plague’ paranoia was tangible. For instance, I applied to take out a mortgage with the Woolwich in the late 80s and had to have an AIDS test as I answered ‘yes’ to a question on homosexuality on a questionnaire produced by the company. I got my mortgage after waiting three weeks for the test results, the doctor did not inform me I was HIV negative, they told the Woolwich. I presumed I was okay when they approved the mortgage. Even so, the Woolwich insisted I take out insurance on my house in case I drop down dead owing them money.

Much is different today but we are still a divided and polarised nation as we were in the 1980s. It will be interesting to see how the paintings on sexuality are received in a less hostile and homophobic climate.

What is the reasoning behind placing the more recent works against the paintings you created in the 1980s?

That’s what happens when you do a retrospective. Work gets place next to each other from different periods.

I thought 70 was a good excuse to do a retrospective, though I could not do a full retrospective; too much work, too diverse and not enough space unless they gave me the run of a museum large space and that’s never going to happen.

So I had to be selective on what I show. As I am back painting, to show early paintings made sense. This exhibition is the second of three retrospective shows I am having in these twelve months. I showed my 1982 painting of the Harwell Dekatron WITCH computer the ‘Portrait of a Dead WITCH’ alongside my 2017 second version of the computer – ‘It’s Alive’. Bringing these two paintings together at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, the home of the original WITCH. Consequently the exhibition was called The Three Witches and has run for over three months at the museum. I am also having an exhibition at the Lanchester Research Gallery in February 2019. Bringing together the Travails of Blind Biff Jelly series and my paintings of my grandmother’s and mother’s ventriloquist dummies. In fact Biff’s first outing was the exhibition ‘Unbelievable Stories’ at the University’s Lanchester Gallery in 1988.

Some of the 80s work was badly damaged in my custom built shed which I use for storage when the roof leaked over ten years ago. A lot of work went into a skip. This exhibition has forced me to dig out and repair six paintings that were damaged yet saved from the skip! So I feel it’s well worth showing them again.

The British Scene 1982

How do you expect the work that you created in the 80s will be received again in the same city 34 years later?

Who knows how it will be received, as I have said it will be interesting to see the reactions in this new context 30 years on. People do not do large figurative paintings these days so it will be interesting for me to see the response of younger artists to these works. 

For me the viewer is not a passive consumer of the art. Looking is an intentional act and requires imagination. Looking requires thinking. As Duchamp pointed out, the viewer finishes off the work.

They provide the meaning. The viewer brings their imagination, understanding and personal experience to the work. They also can bring baggage, ignorance and prejudice to the work.

As Grayson Perry said, “you cannot like everything”, but it was a noisy reactionary minority who reacted badly to the work in 1984. It will be interesting to see if the Coventry Telegraph review the show or even do another editorial. I sent them a press release. But they probably won’t unless they think there’s a scandal.

We shall see.

What’s next for you as an artist?

I the short term I’m showing some of my digital work at the Coventry Pride Art Show also at the CET Building on June 1st. I very please about this and a great way to support Pride. I have the Lanchester Research Gallery exhibition in February 2019 and also in February a Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange exhibition at the Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross) in Dresden to commemorate the bombing of Dresden and the 60th anniversary of the twinning of the two cities. I hope to bring this exhibition to Coventry Cathedral, later in 2019. I need to do some grant applications for the Coventry Dresden Arts Exchange as I would like to continue the artists residencies in the cities and give more Coventry based artists the opportunity to visit and work in Dresden. It’s also great to welcome Dresden artist to Coventry. 

I have my third painting of the WITCH computer in my studio to finish which will keep me occupied for some time. I’ll get a new shed. (Horse and bolted springs to mind). I think I should travel more and need more time to play my ’cello in local orchestras. The Burnley Orchestra is 100 years old this year and I will be going back to my home town in Lancashire to play with them later in the year, I have not played with them for over 50 years.

As for the long term, at 70 there really isn’t any. Bucket list?

Just paint and continue to annoy people.

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Our recent visit to the CET Building

In case for any reason, you haven’t yet visited it, we’d recommend checking out the CET Building. Not only is the old Coventry Telegraph building fascinating to explore on the self-guided tour, but it has also become somewhat of a cultural hub for the city, with a constant stream of art exhibitions, concerts, performances and gigs. We’ll be sad to see it go.

We spent a couple of hours on Saturday exploring the latest art exhibitions on display, so here’s an update on what’s currently on:

Theo Wright’s “Permutations” exhibition was the first we visited, and it explores the effect of mathematics on the patterns and colour sequences created in this contemporary weaved textile pieces. It was really interesting to learn about the knock-on effect that the tiniest change in sequence has in the whole pattern created, and he shared the mathematical formula and processes he followed to create each piece of work.

(Open until Sat 21st April).

 

Saturday also saw the opening of #Paintmysong exhibition by Florence Cliffe. A collection of vibrant abstract paintings influenced by music. Painting has become a therapeutic tool for Florence as she explores the subconscious mind through paint. (Check out what’s happening with the hashtag on Twitter).

The “Exposure” photography festival is still open, and is a wonderful showcase of talent from Coventry University photography students. It combines six exhibitions exploring themes of space and place, community participation, observation of society, the use of colour, an exploration of senses and personal relationships.

We got a sneak preview of the Spon Spun exhibition being installed (opening W.C 16th April) and displays a collection of highlights from last year’s Spon Spun Festival including the award winners and commissioned pieces. We really loved this installation by Min-Kyung Kim “Rain of Memory”, the winner of the visitors choice awards. We remembered it from the art trail at last year’s festival, but this installation took on a completely new appearance in this setting. The dramatic lighting in this dark area of the building really emphasised the shadows, adding a totally new dimension to this work.

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We then came across a collection of work by Coventry painter Christopher Sidwell “All Creatures Great and Small”. This exhibition depicts the artist’s sense of humour and is a celebration of life in it’s many forms. A series of acrylic paintings are accompanied by a screen projection and sound installation of his favourite classical piece, intending to portray different animals in musical form.

Coventry Artist Len Cattell has a collection of Aboriginal-style painting and crafts on display on the second floor. Whilst living in Australia he explored the painting techniques of the Aborigines, which inspired his own practice.

Jonny Bark’s immersive installation “Inhibiting Edgelands” fills the old Press Hall, and is the result of the artist’s journey of exploration of these derelict, transitional areas of land in urban landscapes.

 

This sums up a selection of the exhibitions we visited, but there are some more exciting events coming up:

This coming Saturday (21st April) will see a preview for the forthcoming Coventry Street Art Festival, and will feature live graffiti artists and plus live DJs (12-4pm).

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On the 28th April (12-4pm) – Synthcurious 2 – the sequel to the impressive live sound installation that took place earlier this year.

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Then on 17th May, renowned Coventry-based artist John Yeadon will be opening his solo show “What is the meaning of this” – a collection of his paintings created in the 1980s along with some recent pieces.

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Keep up-to date with all the latest events by following them on Facebook.

Artist Spotlight: Laura Nyahuye

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Laura Nyahuye is a talented Coventry artist and founder of Maokwo, a social enterprise exploring ways in which creativity can bring communities together.

Laura recently put on an incredibly successful and moving event at The Belgrade “I MIGRATED” on International Women’s Day. This included an exhibition of her stunning wearable art, striking photography, plus a remarkable series of performances including singing, spoken word, poetry and dance, plus some powerful talks addressing social issues.

We were lucky enough to meet Laura at the event and have since interviewed her to find out more about her own creative practice, and the impressive work she is doing in the community. Here’s what she has to say:

Tell us a little about the concept behind Maokwo

At Maokwo we use art and observational counselling as a vehicle for positive change. We work with women, migrant communities; our work reaches out to communities and individuals from all backgrounds. Our aim is to tackle isolation and mental health challenges. We promote integration and wellbeing in communities. Our services are very adaptable and broaden to families, children and local institutions where there is need. To top it all we support front line staff who work with migrant communities.

What I love about the Maokwo concept is that we work from experience. We have faced the hardships of life, we know what it is like to lack, to face domestic abuse, discrimination, tokenism, loss, isolation, mental abuse, we are that neighbour next door. Some call it working from the bottom up. We identify with our participants and the participants identify with us.

What inspired you to start this remarkable work in the community?

 Personal challenges and conversations in community settings.

My personal journey since migrating from Zimbabwe has been full of challenges and positives – it’s a standalone book waiting to be written! The challenges l faced seemed to fan a fire within me.

During that challenging time, a woman (whom l now call Mom, she was truly God sent) encouraged me to get involved in community work offering art and craft activities. The more activities we offered more conversations came up! (I love talking and a good laugh!).

Most of the conversations struck a chord within me and before l knew it, the fire within became a blazing flame! There was a repetition of concerns everywhere I went. Lack of integration, isolation, domestic abuse, family issues, discrimination, mental health challenges, tick box issues to name a few. I felt so much at home in community groups from all backgrounds and vice versa, participants felt comfortable. We had many things in common.

Despite all the challenges two things helped me cope. It was my time Faith and my creative practice. As much as I identified with my participants, there was an inner strength that kept me going and it was those two points. (There is a creative writing at the current ‘I Migrate’ exhibition entitled ‘my faith my Sanity’ it touches on that)

As I was healing little by little I realised how this process can actually work for others.

In a nutshell, as I was going through the real life pains and struggles of life, and I sat down and cried with the fellow women in our community groups, Maokwo was being born – I just didn’t know it.

Yes, in life, challenges continue to come and go, however life has taught me, and continues to teach me, that there is beauty in the ashes of life. Keep going, somebody somewhere is waiting for you to take that step of faith and its well worth it.

What workshops are you currently running?

We are currently running ‘Breathe’ workshops at the Belgrade theatre every Friday from 11 to 2pm until the end the of March.

Breath encourages us to “press pause” and do something outside the normal day to day activities of life. Come and creatively express yourself . We are delivering workshops for CRMC – great partnerships coming up!

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Where can people go to find out more about these?

People can visit our twitter page – @maokwo

Instagram pages – @maokwo or @laura_nyahuye

Website address https://www.maokwo.com/

Now about your own creative practice – what type of artist would you describe yourself as?

 I see myself as an artist activist.

What inspires your own creativity?

My creativity is inspired by injustice and a desire to see hope and freedom in human lives. Women’s issues and community issues.

Tell us a little about the symbolism behind the striking body adornments that you had on display at The Belgrade

 The body adornments are to raise awareness of what’s going on right now in the day to day life of a migrant woman. They are helping to showcase the innermost thoughts of a migrant woman. These are stories and intimate details you don’t get to hear over a cup of tea. They are stories that need to be told with some creativity. We are living in a society were migration should be a norm, unfortunately it’s the opposite.

I often wonder, what about the younger generation? Do I want them to face the same obstacles I faced as a migrant woman? NO!

So, as a mother and an artist what can I do to challenge perceptions and to educate the next generation. To highlight that we are ALL human with red blood flowing through our veins.

Body adornments, for centuries have been used to define cultural, social, or religious status in various communities. During my studies, adornments struck me as a symbol that have the potential to communicate various subjects or strike up conversations (I’ve had a lot of conversations as a result of wearing some of the adornments).

Body adornments are such are powerful means of communication. Look at the Masai tribe and the Kayan tribe. Interesting depiction of status and identity.

It fascinates me how body adornments are used by different cultures to communicate different messages. In my case I intend to use the handcrafted body adornments to tell various stories.

The body adornments are also on sale and can be made to order.

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 Have you any plans for future creative projects?

For the ‘I MIGRATED’ exhibition the plan is to migrate around the UK and eventually outside the UK.

For Maokwo workshops our partnerships are expanding and we are building more collaborative projects and that is exciting!

We have activist activities in the pipeline!

The “I MIGRATED exhibition will be on display at The Belgrade until 31st March 2018 .28795864_1630410190368635_9142424792298793102_n

See more details of Laura’s forthcoming workshops below:

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create and talk for young workshops

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Exciting exposition of art and engineering coming to Coventry

Festival of Imagineers 2017

Coventry based creative productions organisation Imagineer have been awarded £600,000 by the Arts Council of England to launch an intriguing and ambitious project.

“Bridge” is a three-year programme of extraordinary outdoor arts across the Midlands, and will be launched this September at Coventry Cathedral. The “Bridge” project celebrates the intersection of art, engineering & social change.

The project will explore themes of bridge building, ‘fierce kindness’ and human progress.

Imagineer will collaborate with artists and civil engineers, to produce three major events in Coventry, Worcester & Grantham over the next three years. An iconic bridge structure will inhabit public spaces for two weeks at a time, inspiring and framing spectacular, immersive live performances, creative community responses and interactive lighting / digital animations.

We can’t wait to see this when it hits Coventry.

Find out more about this exciting project here.

 

Emerging Art, Emerging Place

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The cold, damp January weather certainly didn’t deter the crowds from turning out for this motivating event at the CET Building. Set in the old press room, attendees were immersed in Jonny Bark’s (the event organiser), atmospheric “Inhabiting Edgelands” installation, which occupied the space in which the event took place.

Emerging Art, Emerging Place was devised to focus on how artists in Coventry can capitalise on the City of Culture 2021 win. The event consisted of three powerful talks from Jonny Bark, photographer, researcher and lecturer, Ryan Hughes, Director of Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art and Birmingham based photographer Nilupa Yasmin. Following these talks, artists mingled with industry professionals from across the midlands for an inspiring and uplifting networking session.

It was exciting to hear from Ryan Hughes about the successes of the inaugural Coventry Biennial, and the incredibly positive impact that the festival had on the city:

  • The event saw over 24,000 attendees
  • 60% of the attendees were from outside Coventry
  • 35% of the attendees had never been to Coventry before
  • ¼ of the Biennial attendees were under the age of 20.

Some impressive stats here, and pleasing to see that such a young audience are really engaging with Coventry’s Visual Arts.

Ryan has experienced a huge amount of national interest in the Visual Arts scene in Coventry, from many high-profile arts organisations from across the country, so there is no denying that Coventry is making its mark in the art world.

Nilupa Yamsin then gave us a little more insight into the themes that she explores in her own creative practice, and talked about the opportunities that the City of Culture Bid brought to her as an artist. Her project “Grow me a Waterlily” became a huge focus in the promotion of the City of Culture Bid, and this in turn really spring-boarded her career. She is now exhibiting at the Argentea Gallery, Birmingham and is working with Coventry-based organisation, The Photo Miners on a commission based around Foleshill. Nilupa’s tips for success included, taking up voluntary opportunities with leading art organisations to get your foot in the door. Nilupa has also utilised the power of social media to promote herself as an artist, and has been approached for work through this.

Jonny Bark closed the talks highlighting the importance of networking with industry professionals to help to push your career forward. Its all very well having the talent, but taking the time to get yourself out there is just as important. Jonny couldn’t stress enough the importance of seizing opportunities when you have the chance, and the Coventry win of the City of Culture 2021 couldn’t be a better prospect facing creative individuals in the city right now.

Following these powerful and insightful talks, everyone had the chance to mingle and discuss their work with leading Visual Arts organisations from across the Midlands, and revel in the opportunities that artists in the city are now faced with. This is an unbelievably exciting time for Coventry artists, and this event really brought together the creative community in the city. Emerging Art, Emerging Place proved that there is a powerful support system in place within this community. This is something that all Coventry artists should be tapping into. Never underestimate the importance of networking if you are looking to advance your career in the industry.

We want to say a massive well done to Jonny Bark, and all who were involved in making this event happen. It really did leave attendees bursting with excitement for what the future of the city may hold.

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Curating Coventry’s Highlights of 2017

 

We are still buzzing from the announcement of Coventry’s win of the City of Culture 2021, and as the year is drawing to a close, we’ve been looking back at what an incredible mix of visual arts that the city has enjoyed in 2017. Coventry is a hive of creativity, and this is such an exciting time to be in this innovative city.

Here are a few of our highlights from 2017:

The Inaugural Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art

The biggest visual arts festival the city has ever seen.  The vast programme consisted of 13 exhibitions and over 60 events, featuring a diverse selection of local, national and international artists. The Biennial launch night alone saw over 1,000 attendees at the CET building! One thing is for certain – the event sure drew in the crowds.

Click here for our write up on this event.

 

 

Spon Spun Festival

An impressive selection of creative workshops were held throughout August, open for anyone to attend. The festival weekend on 9th and 10th September had a super exciting programme, for all the family to enjoy, including creative activities, music, theatre, delicious food and the remarkable Spon Spun Art Trail. The community really got involved in exploring their creativity and enjoying the talent of others. We especially enjoyed exploring the Art Trail on the festival Sunday – see our journey here.

 

 

Scratch the Surface – Dialogue Festival

The aim of the festival was to celebrate the provocative and vanguard, and bought together a vast programme of cultural activists and arts organisations both local, national and international. The 11-day festival surrounding mental health, was sensitively executed and addressed many taboo subject matters in an incredibly liberating way. A remarkable, inspiring and thought-provoking event.

See more from our round-up here.

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Festival of the Imagineers

Linking art, design and engineering, the Festival of Imagineers delivered a riveting week-long programme incorporating local, national and international creative talent. This unique festival included outdoor and site specific performance, art installations and interactive experiences for everyone to get involved in. We especially loved Luke Jerram’s “Museum of the Moon”.

Imagineers

Feel Good Festival of Creativity at Fargo Village

Prior to the event, we were lucky enough to interview the Founder of the Feel Good Community Melissa Smith, so had a clear picture of the outstanding work she does in the community, and the valuable message that she is spreading. The event focussed on bringing the community together to creatively explore different ways we can increase wellbeing. This was an amazing uplifting day – so many positive vibes as attendees celebrated and explored creative crafts, live doodle art, animation workshops, spoken word performance, great tunes, drumming workshops, plus many more feel good activities taking place. Fargo Village was absolutely buzzing that afternoon. We can’t wait to see what the Feel Good Community have in store for 2018!

 

George Wagstaffe “The Artist’s Wife” at St Mary Magdalene’s Church

This beautiful collection of work by notable Coventry artist George Wagstaffe, paid homage to his late wife, and their sixty years together – in times of both joy and sadness. The selection of work gave you an insight into the passage of their time together, and the way in which his creative practice developed over these years. This was a very moving and emotional exhibition to view, plus a wonderful showcase of the diversity of his skills as an artist.

 

Coventry University’s MA Showcase

An outstanding showcase of raw talent from the MA Painting and Contemporary Practice at Coventry University. This exhibition really blew us away. The paining exhibition included explorations into levels of human consciousness, modern depictions of World War I scenes, to unique fictitious landscape scenes, and incredible portraiture. The Contemporary Practice pushed through convention with audio-video installations, a digital fabrication of wearable sculptures, eerie dolls house of figurines made up from Barbie dolls, fairies, combined with military action-figures

See our write up of this show here.

 

Kaleidoscope at The Mead

An amazing collection of British Art from the 1960s featuring a vast selection of the big names dominating the art world during that period of time. Op Art, Pop Art Constructivism and bold, abstract sequence and symmetry. A wonderful selection of paintings and sculpture from this eclectic era. Artists included Bridget Riley, Anthony Caro, William Turnbull Robyn Denny – to name but a few.

 

Picasso: Linocuts From The British Museum at The Herbert

A wonderful collection of Linocut prints, loaned from the British Museum, which Picasso created in the late 50s and early 60s when he was over eighty years old. The exhibition presented some of Picasso’s most notorious works in linocut, alongside a selection of ceramics on loan from Leicester Arts and Museums Service.

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Alan Van Wijgerden’s “Fun Factory” at Class Room

Alan had become a renowned urban docu-photographer in the city, and “Fun Factory” was a fascinating documentation of the lives of Fine Art students in Coventry in the 80s. This impressive collection of images captured protests, gritty student accommodation (including students squatting in tents in back gardens along the Binley Road), music gigs plus a record of artwork from the degree show.

 

This is just a small selection of the vibrant offerings that Coventry’s visual arts scene delivered in 2017. We will continue to keep you up-to-date with events and exhibitions happening in Coventry through 2018, so be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop, and see more of the impressive selection of visual arts that we explored this year.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed 2017 as much as we have.

How you can help Coventry win City of Culture 2021

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This Friday (1 December) the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will be showcasing Coventry on social media.

This means that the judges and the DCMS will be watching Coventry online for the entire day. This is one of the biggest opportunities in the competition yet. Every city will have their own day and we need to make sure Coventry shouts the loudest!

So how can you help?

  • If you’re not already following the City of Culture bid team, then use these links to follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram
  • Spread the word of this to everyone you know!
  • Starting at 9.30am, post as much content as you can about Coventry – making sure to always use #ThisisCoventry with @Coventry2021 and where appropriate @DCMS and #UKCityofCulture2021
  • This is going to last all day so please help us keep the momentum up. A couple of our competitors have trended nationally and we would love to do the same
  • Video content and pictures are brilliant – record messages of support and tag us in them and encourage everyone else to do the same
  • Are you in work that day? Get all your colleagues involved. Shout about how much you love the city, record it and upload it
  • Is there an article you have read about City of Culture or Coventry you have enjoyed, share it again! Here is a great source – http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/all-about/uk-city-of-culture
  • This is not just on twitter, feel free to post on any channels you use. @Coventry2021 is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • The bid team want to have an hour where we completely take over social media and have a concentrated effort to be all that anyone is talking about. This will be between 1pm and 2pm on Friday, so if you can only spend a little bit of time on Friday, then 1pm to 2pm is the time to do it.

Having a think about these statements to help with your posts is a great place to start –

I am backing Coventry’s bid to be #UKCityofCulture2021 because …. @Coventry2021 #ThisisCoventry

Coventry needs to be #UKCityofCulture2021 because… @Coventry2021 #ThisisCoventry

My favourite place in Coventry is … @Coventry2021 #ThisisCoventry

To me, culture in Coventry means … @Coventry2021 #ThisisCoventry

My most unforgettable moment in Coventry was … @Coventry2021 #ThisisCoventry

In 2021 I would like Coventry to be … @Coventry2021 #ThisisCoventry

 

Come on guys, let’s show our support, and show the DCMS how much Coventry kicks butt over all the other finalists.

Let’s win City of Culture 2021!