This autumn Coventry will see it’s first ever Biennial of Contemporary Art. This exciting festival will be a vast celebration of local, UK and international artists. With a jam-packed programme spanning over two weeks, it is going to be huge – we can’t wait!
Curating Coventry has been lucky enough to interview founder Ryan Hughes to see what is in store for the event. Here’s the lowdown…
Why will the Biennial be running in Coventry, and what are the objectives behind this?
Coventry has so much potential at the moment!
There’s a lot of investment in the city and that’s not just limited to property development, student accommodation and car manufacture, as many would have you believe. Thanks to the City Council’s cultural strategy and the bid to be City of Culture 2021 businesses and institutions in the city, as well as regionally and nationally are really starting to pay attention to Coventry and the work going on in the city.
Example’s of this national attention include two organisations in the city being listed in the recent Artist-Led Hot 100, academics from Coventry University joining the British Council to conduct research at the Venice Biennale and the increase in the number of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations in the city. This is all super exciting and has led to a situation where something as ambitious as a biennial feels both possible and useful.
Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art intends to celebrate what’s best about the city whilst also aiming to bring something which maybe isn’t already being provided. There are rich histories of artistic production and critical thinking in the city, the biennial will make these histories visible and accessible whilst creating new legacies.
What dates will the festival be running?
The festival will be running the 6th – 22nd October 2017, and our exhibitions will be open daily. We have an exciting range of events scheduled to take place over the 17 days. Prior to the biennial opening we have several events taking place including a pair of activities on the 15th of September in both Coventry and Leamington Spa. At 1pm our director will deliver a 30 minute talk on our programmes at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum.
After this, from 7:30pm we will be ‘warming-up’ the biennial at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum as a part of their Herbert Lates: Art Fiesta event. For this event Juneau Projects and friends will host their ‘I am the Live Warrior’ participatory performance.
What events will be taking place as part of the Coventry Biennial?
We’ve got an exciting range of events for a variety of audiences, these are in addition to our exhibitions programme, which is equally expansive. Our exhibitions are all free to attend and the majority of our events are free, too.
We have educational workshops for family’s and young people alongside guided tours of our exhibitions and artists talks.
We’ve got an exciting series of performances and parties including participatory work in secret locations, wonky dance music, mead tasting rituals and an artist-led yoga session.
As well as these opportunities to get involved or be entertained we also have a series of academic-style talks and symposiums including a day long event called ‘The Biennial Effect’ exploring the impact of these festivals on place making, produced in partnership with New Art West Midlands, as well as a symposium exploring the practice of painting within contemporary art.
We’re also delighted to have a very special talk being delivered by Jack Klaff, an actor with roles in both Star Wars and James Bond who is also a leading lecturer in understanding science.
The first event for the biennial is our private view, taking place at The CET Building on the evening of the 6th of October, despite the name, this is open to everybody!
What venues will be hosting these events?
Our main exhibition will be housed in the previously empty and fairly dilapidated CET Building. We have undertaken extensive conversion work to get this space exhibition ready and are sure audiences will love exploring the space.
We’re also curating shows and hosting events at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, The Box at Fargo Village, The Tin Community Space, Meter Room Studios and Project Space and The Old Grammar School.
Our partners are presenting projects in many other amazing locations across the city centre including The Glass Box, Coventry Cathedral, CLASS ROOM, City Arcadia Gallery and many other locations.
What artists will be on display?
We’re very excited about the artists which we’re showing throughout the biennial. There’s a real mixture of really well established, ‘big name’ artists alongside some of the most interesting artists working in the UK today as well as exciting early carer artists and recent graduates showing new works.
The full artist list is as follows:
Terry Atkinson, Ashish Avikunthak, Bobby Baker, Rory Beard, Talking Birds, John Bridgeman, Wolfgang Buttress, Mira Calix, Annie Carpenter, Edward Clayton, Bermuda Collective, Sir Jacob Epstein, Imogen Frost, Matthew Gale, Darryl Georgiou & Rebekah Tolley, Jochen Gerz, Fiona Grady, Glatze, Martin Green, Olga Grotova, HA, Emma Hart, John Hegley, Gregory Herbert, Holly Rowan Hesson, Kurt Hickson, Hipkiss & Graney, Katie Hodson, Katie Hodson & Alex Wojtulewicz, Andy Holden, Li Hui, Nimzo-Indian, Tom James, Daniel Sean Kelly, Dolly Kershaw, Michael Lightborne, James Lomax, Claire Margaret, The Grubby Mitts, Nicole Mortiboys, Paul Newman, Joe Fletcher Orr, Charley Peters, Pablo Picasso, Marion Piper, Yelena Popova, Grantchester Pottery, Juneau Projects, Alma Ramsey, Repeator, Antonio Roberts, Ludic Rooms, Daniel Salisbury, Oliver Scott, Natalie Seymour, sirenscrossing, Emily Speed, Denise Startin, Artist Supermarket, Swoomptheeng, Trevor Tennant, Jo Thomas, James Faure Walker, Stuart Whipps, Duncan Whitley, Terence Wilde, Ryan Williams, Tammy Woodrow, Granby Workshop / Assemble, Granby Workshop / Marie Jacotey, Wen Wu, John Yeadon.
Where can people go to find out more about what’s to come?
You can find our full programme here… https://coventrybiennial.com/programme/
Our printed programmes will be appearing around the city and wider West Midlands region, so keep a look out for these.
In the meantime there are clues around our plans being leaked on our social media platforms.
Where can people follow you on Social Media?
Stay tuned to the hashtags: #CovBiennial #CoventryBiennial #TheFuture #ThisIsCoventry