Our 2018 Highlights

As 2018 is coming to an end, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look back at some fond memories of the year. The city has once again enjoyed an incredible mix of visual arts and although we were sad to say goodbye to the CET Pop-Up back in June, it will definitely leave a lasting legacy in the city.

So here our some of our highlights from 2018:

Coventry University Drawing Prize at the CET Building (March)

The annual drawing prize is ran by the faculty of Arts and Humanities and is open to all students and staff of the uni, both past and present. The exhibition was held at the CET, and although called “Drawing Prize” a diverse selection of media was exhibited.

The winner was Michala Gyetvai with this beautiful oil pastel drawing titled “threads”. Michala is currently studying an MA in painting at Coventry Uni and is also well known for contemporary landscape embroidery work.

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“I Migrated” at The Belgrade by Maokwo, founded my Coventry artist Laura Nyahuye in celebration of International Women’s Day (March)

This moving exhibition told the story of migrant women through photography, poetry and handmade body adornments. The exhibition gave an insight into inner struggles, fears, loss, joys and triumphs and aimed to challenge perceptions. The event was opened by Lord Mayor of Coventry and featured some incredibly touching, thought-provoking talks, poetry, music and dance.

Following the event, we interviewed Laura Nyahuye to delve a little deeper into her as an artist and the incredible work that she is doing to empower women.

Read this interview here.

 

John Yeadon “What’s the meaning of this?” at the CET Building (May)

Renowned Coventry-based artist John Yeadon opened his solo show “What’s the meaning of this?” in the Newsroom at the CET Building back in May. This featured a retrospective view of paintings he produced in the 1980s, which, at the time, were deemed shocking and controversial, alongside a collection of his more recent work. This exhibition encouraged the viewer to reflect on the political, ideological, social and economic changes that have taken place in this period.

His selection of older work featured paintings from his “Dirty Tricks” exhibition at The Herbert Gallery in the 80s. A collection large-scale of grotesque-realist paintings, which at the time were branded in the press as “Smut not Art”.

In stark contrast to this, John’s idealistic landscape paintings, from his more recent “Englandia” series were on display. This collection of work challenges myths, preconceptions and contradictions of national identity through landscapes. Then alongside these, the exhibition featured series of digital assisted paintings of Sellafield Nuclear Power Station. The paintings reflected his interest in technology and yet also the way in which 20th century technology dates so fast and so badly.

We chatted to John before the exhibition opened.

Take a read of his artist interview here.

 

Our first ever live #ArtChatCov at The Pod (September)

We teamed up with The Pod Café for a Supper Club back in September, for our first ever live #ArtChatCov. This sell-out event was a wonderful social evening where artists and arts organisations from the city came together for a night of great food, live music and good company. Birmingham based electronic duo EIF performed an amazing live set while people shared delicious vegan dishes sourced from local produce. We also got to find out more about the social activist movements that come under the umbrella of The Pod Café, including The Time Union – a city-wide time bank and Food Union which focuses on connecting people through conversation and action around food. It was a wonderful relaxed evening, connecting like-minded individuals in this absoulte gem of the city. We hope to run some more events like this over the next year.

(For those who haven’t heard of it, #ArtChatCov is our monthly networking TweetChat connecting artists and arts organisations across Coventry. Find out more about it here).

 

Coventry First Thursday at Classroom (October)

A selection of Coventry-based artists were selected for this exhibition for their positive contribution to the perception of the visual arts both inside and outside the city. Upstairs featured a selection of abstract painting, figurative work, photography and digital work. Then as you entered the basement, the smoke-machine bellowed as you explored room by room which hosted installations, moving image work, and painting in this wonderful atmospheric setting. The opening night was absolutely packed and we really loved the way that this amazing space was used!

(Which leads us to our next highlight…)

We Are Luminous launch at Holyhead Basement (November)

We Are Luminous is a Moving Image forum set up my Coventry Artspace trustee and artist Hannah Sutherland along with Artspace studio holder and digital artist Carol Breen. For the launch they put on a cracking event in the basement at of Holyhead Studios ahead of bonfire night. This took inspiration from Cai Guo-Qiang’s One Night Stand: Explosion Event (2013), Andrew Waits Boom City (2012), Shunji Iwai’s episode of the Japanese drama series titled “Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom?”

Once again this atmospheric space was filled with an exciting selection of work from moving image and new media artists based from in and around the city. Holographic glasses were handed out, which gave each piece of work a whole new dimension. The garden was open, and sparklers were lit, drinks were poured whilst ambient electronic sounds from TOPS OFF (Laura Coffin and Jack Carr) echoed around the basement. What a night!

Backbone at Artspace Arcadia Gallery (November)

During the final month or The Art of Coventry programme, artists from The Shared Collective worked alongside curator Anna Douglas exploring “The Art of Curation”. During this 3-day workshop they worked with images of older women by the famous docu-photographer Shirley Baker. Each artist chose a photograph which they felt most connected to, and responded with poetry or their own written piece. The final result was an immersive audio/visual installation displayed at Artspace Arcadia Gallery. This enclosed space was filled with a sea of rose petals, leading to life-size images projected onto the far wall, with the voice recordings of each artist’s response exploring women’s identity in today’s society.

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Coventry Open at The Herbert Gallery and Museum

Over 300 pieces of work were submitted to this year’s Coventry Open, and these were whittled down to 99 artworks, which are all currently on display at The Herbert Gallery until 24th February.

The exhibition features a wonderful diverse showcase of talented artists from across the region with a wide range of media from painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and textiles. If you haven’t already been along yet, we couldn’t recommend this enough!

The judges winner was contemporary painter Jack Foster, for his painting Kite. You can vote for your own winner and the people’s choice winner will be announced when the exhibition closes!

 

 

 

Goodbye CET – thank you for the memories

So the time has come for us to say our sad goodbye to the CET Building. With over 20,000 visitors in the past year, this pop-up cultural hub will leave a lasting legacy in the city. We’re gutted to see it go, but want to share some of our fondest memories of exhibitions we’ve visited there.

The inaugural Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art – the biggest art festival the city has ever scene – the CET Building made the perfect venue for the Biennial’s central exhibition.

This was our first visit to the CET, since it re-opened it’s doors. It was wonderful exploring the building in it’s stripped-back state, each artwork responding to it’s setting and reacting to the exhibition theme of “The Future”.

Here’s our round-up of the inaugural Biennial last year.

Coventry-based artist, researcher and photographer Jonny Bark’s “Inhabiting Edgelands” became a dominant installation in the press hall, which was a result of the artists journey of exploration of these derelict, transitional areas of land in urban landscapes.

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The CET Building held the 2018 Coventry University Annual Drawing Prize, which is open to all students and staff both past and present, across all faculties and disciplines. Since the first competition in 2010 the Drawing Prize has received wider recognition and prestige over the years with entrants from locally based artists to ex-students as far as London.

 

This year’s show certainly did not disappoint and viewers got to vote on who you felt deserved to win. The 2018 winner was Michala Gyetvai with this oil pastel drawing titled “Threads”.

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The Exposure Photography Festival of work by 2nd year BA Photography students at Coventry University was another huge and impressive event. The festival encompassed six exhibitions exploring themes of space and place, community participation, observation of society, the use of colour, an exploration of senses and personal relationships. What a great showcase of the level of talent that is coming from the university.

We loved viewing the highlights of the 2017 Spon Spun festival, and reminiscing the work we explored when we visited the art trail last year. Some took on a whole new dimension in the setting of the building, particularly this beautiful instillation by Min-Kyung Kim “Rain of Memory”, lit up to create overlapping shadows against the back wall.

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The CET hosted the preview of the Urban Culture Street Art Festival, which took place across the city on 9th – 10th June. We were gutted to miss the event, but loved getting along to see all the impressive urban art, which then decorated the walls of the derelict basement room following the preview event.

Award winning artist Sam Belinfante was a visiting artist for “The Art of Coventry” Programme, ran by Coventry Artspace. His famous audio/visual installation “Accordian” was installed in the atmospheric press hall, which lent itself perfectly to this work of art. Echoing sounds came out of the darkness, while the two films of the accordion player rolled simultaneously in their two locations, viewable through either side of the screens.

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We especially loved viewing John Yeadon’s solo show “What’s the meaning of this?” a retrospective view of paintings he produced in the 1980s alongside his more recent work. We interviewed him prior to it’s opening.

We were intrigued at how his paintings deemed shocking and controversial in the 1980s would be received again in the city 34 years later. Yeadon encouraged the viewer to reflect on political, ideological, social and economic changes over the past three decades. People travelled from across the UK to visit this outstanding show of grotesque-realist paintings from earlier years in stark contrast to landscape paintings from his more recent Englandia series, displayed alongside images of nuclear power stations.

 

We have so many happy memories from the past year, and are sad to see it go, but the emergence of this pop-up space created such a buzz for the city’s visual arts scene. It has supported and nurtured Coventry’s grass roots talent and encouraged artists to explore and engage with spaces outside traditional gallery venues. May it’s legacy live on as the artists of Coventry continue to push boundaries in discovering unusual exhibition spaces.

Farewell CET and thank you for the memories!

 

Behind-the-scenes action from the Coventry Arts Trail

Curating Coventry are delighted to welcome our first guest bloggers; Photographer John Whitmore (images) and Glass Maker Amanda Glanville (words) who are both opening their studios as part of the Coventry Arts Trail 16 June – 1 JulyThey’ve given us a wonderful account of what’s been happening behind-the-scenes on the run up to the event:

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If you’ve ever wondered what an artist’s studio or workspace looks like, whether a painter works in an ordered calm, or a textile maker in a colourful chaos now is your chance to find out.

From 16 June – 1 July, the artists from Coventry Arts Trail invite you in to meet them in their homes and workspaces to see how and where they make art. This is part of Warwickshire Open Studios, the county’s biggest free annual visual arts event.

JohnWhitmore_05John Whitmore, a photographer using traditional film techniques, and based in Binley Woods has documented some of the artists you’ll meet as part of the trail (including himself!) to give you a taste of the very different ways they work and their working environments.

From contemporary workspaces to quirky sheds, a homely room in a traditional Victorian villa to a bright corner in an Edwardian terrace attic, The Coventry Arts Trail artists have one thing in common with all artists – they like to surround themselves with intriguing tools and equipment.

 

TheoWright_02You’ll see lots of these when you visit the Arts Trail, along with art big and small (most of it for sale), work in progress, sketchbooks, and some of the artists will be giving demonstrations too – don’t miss the working loom in Earlsdon and the lamp work glass demonstrations in Chapelfields. At all the addresses there is the warm welcome you would expect with Open Studios – often with cake and tea too.

It’s a friendly and approachable way of seeing art and a must for anyone who has been put off visiting a art gallery in the past.

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Full details of all the Coventry Arts Trail artists are on the Warwickshire Open Studios website where you can search who is open when by area and times they are open. Coventry Arts Trail has its own Facebook page where you can find out more. Please note, not all artists are open all of the time.

Or you can use the Warwickshire Open Studios Brochure or Coventry Arts Trail leaflet which are widely available.

Come and see what we’ve all been working on!

Andy Farr

A painter exhibiting from his city centre studio an affecting and thoughtful body of work which interprets true stories of post traumatic stress
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/andy-farr

Emma O’Brien

Textile Artist and illustrator. Well known as the creator of ‘Naughty Monsters’ and co-author of children’s picture books. Emma’s delicious vegan cakes will be on offer during Open Studios.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/emma-obrien

Amanda Glanville

Maker of tiny glass stuff. Quirky, colourful and fun miniature objects for house and garden. Ongoing demonstrations in The Red Shed.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/amanda-glanville

Adam Tucker

Intricate detail of England’s natural landscapes captured in paint
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/adam-tucker

Katie O

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Pencil and watercolour artist capturing in great detail the essence of wildlife. Showing as part of a group exhibition with four other artists at University Hospital Walsgrave. Please note this is an unmanned exhibition.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/katie-o

Sarah Howarth

New to Coventry Arts Trail, a mixed media artist who specialises in decorative mirrors.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/sarah-howarth

Theo Wright

Fine detail of intricately loom woven textiles. Demonstrations on full sized loom.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/theo-wright

Aleks Dille/Katharine Hopley

Designer / Makers of fine jewellery in all precious metals with a particular specialism in gemstones.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/aleks-dille 

Adam Hussain

Distinctive contemporary kiln fused glass as large installation pieces and smaller domestic bowls and plates. Adam offers workshops in beginners fused glass techniques.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/adam-hussain

John Whitmore 

Landscape, townscape and portrait photography using traditional camera techniques (non digital) and hand printing. Weds during Open Studios – pre bookable in depth demonstrations at his Binley Woods studio.
https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2018/john-whitmore

There are more artists to discover on the Coventry Arts Trail – not all of them were available for photographs. Discover the full list of places to visit here.

 

You can follow this blog post authors on the following:
John Whitmore
Facebook: @thedarkshed
Twitter: @thedarkshed
Instagram: @thedarkshed
https://johnwhitmore.gallery

Amanda Glanville
Facebook: @TheEarringCafe
Instagram: @theearringcafe
www.earringcafe.co.uk

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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Scratch the Surface – Dialogue Festival Review

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Scratch the Surface – Dialogue was a mental health arts festival that ran from 30th Sept – 10th Oct, organised by The Pod and it’s arts collective; Collective//Pod

(A part of Coventry Council that supports people in their mental health recovery journey).

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 expertly delivered festival was sensitively executed and addressed many subject matters that can be seen as taboo, in an incredibly liberating way.

Prior to the event, we were lucky enough to get to know founder of the festival Christine Eade, an exceptionally inspirational woman, who has a host of awards under her belt, including; winner of ‘Woman of Achievement Award’ 2017, and Winner of UK Mental Health Best Practice Awards 2013, to name just a few.

We gained a sneak preview into what was in store and were blown away by the sheer scale of this impressive festival.

Curating Coventry were delighted to be invited by the Collective//Pod to participate in hosting the exhibition opening “An Audience with Wen Wu” at the CCCA, Fargo Village. Wen Wu presented a series of ‘Literary’ paintings – a series of five stunning realist-style paintings, which were on loan from the RifleMaker, London. We had the pleasure of interviewing her to delve into the themes she explores through her creative practice, and the extensive process she goes through as an artist before she arrives at her final paintings. Wen feels passionate about female spirituality and the empowerment that can be gained through tapping into creativity. In this series of paintings, the books were a metaphor for shelter, security and protection, yet also a regal symbol of the Chinese crown. It was an absolute delight to meet such an inspirational female artist.

The next event we attended was an evening at The Herbert Gallery with Sarah Chaney, research associate at the University College London Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines, and Visual Artist Liz Atkin. Liz is a renown artist who campaigns to raise awareness of dermatillomania surprising common skin-picking disorder, thought to affect up to 1 in 25 of us. As part of her recovery, she creates “Compulsive Charcoal” drawings when travelling to work and back, to keep her hands busy. She gives these out to fellow passengers, explaining why she does it, breaking down the stigma attached to this condition. So far she has given away well over 15,000 free drawings. She now travels across the globe, speaking about what she does, and how the act of creating her art has become detrimental to her recovery.

On her bus-route to Coventry, Liz gave away dozens of her “Compulsive Charcoal” drawings, then when she arrived at The Herbert, she performed a live “Pouring Mountains” artwork – a drawing, painting installation which she now produces as a daily cathartic ritual, to ease her of her compulsion to pick at her skin. And what a beautiful piece of art this was – created in just 10 minutes, yet for Liz, she was so engrossed in the activity of creating this piece of art that it felt like she had been there for hours working on it.

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Following this performance, Sarah Chaney then delivered a really interesting talk on the history of self-harm in psychiatry. It was a real eye-opener to see how not even that long ago, so many mental health problems were simply brushed off as ‘hysteria”.

Liz was up next, discussing her creative practice, and went into more detail about how her art helped draw her out of a really difficult place, and has become the most vital role in her recovery. This was an incredibly powerful and moving talk. We had so much respect for Liz for openly expressing how it feels to be a sufferer of dermatillomania, and the journey that she has been on, and her road to recovery.

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After this we got to attend a private viewing on an exclusive collection of miniature flint sculptures, created by the artist Gwyneth Rowlands, on loan from the Bethlem Gallery. This fascinating collection was created during Gwyneth’s 50-year stay at the Netheren Hospital (a long-stay psychiatric hospital in Surrey). where she began to paint onto flint collected from local fields. The multifaceted nature of the stone became her canvas, in which she created intriguing faces and scenes of figures. The longer you look at each piece, the more you see – so interesting to view. This was an incredibly profound and thought-provoking evening.

The next event we attended was the opening night of the End//Begin – Dialogue exhibition, which presented the work of British contemporary artists Bobby Baker, Terence Wilde and Claire Margaret. This wonderfully curated exhibition took place at the City Arcadia Gallery, and exhibited a selection of the artists’ work, which again formed part of their recovery of mental illness. The exhibition also explored psychiatry as a discipline in itself.

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Bobby Baker’s work was a diary of her journey as a patient at a day centre, and portrayed her experiences of day hospitals, psychiatric wards, a number of drugs and treatment, and ‘crisis’ teams. Although harrowing, she delivers this with a certain tongue-in cheek humour documenting the highs and lows of her journey.

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Claire Margaret’s practice revolves around her own diagnosis of schizophrenia and how upon exploring the illness itself, through her artwork, she began to find a focus, which enabled her to help overcome it. She fearlessly accepted the condition for what it was, extensively researching it, and began to create drawings, which she used to help her communicate.

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Terrance Wilde again uses his art as a therapeutic practice “I draw as part of an on-going cathartic journey. Creativity sets me free from anxiety, trauma and obsession.” His work is a response to his current situation, and a beautiful collection of surreal black and white drawings gave you a snapshot into this liberating process he goes through as an artist. He currently works within the Occupational therapy department of The Royal Bethlem Hospital.

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The final event we attended was the private viewing of the UK’s first ever FilmZine – something to go down in history! “30seconds3minutes30filmDIAOLOGUE’. It featured submissions from across the world, as well as local talent, speaking of the art of ‘Dialogue’ and celebrating the vanguard. What an impressive showcase this was! A huge range of cutting-edge, innovative and often unconventional themes creatively explored, and cleverly directed by Baileyface Productions. We’re hoping an online version of this will become available to view, and would thoroughly recommend checking it out.

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There were so many other festival events which sadly we didn’t get the chance to attend, including; A collaboration with Room Art – “Incidental” – comprising of a live curation of music, art installation, video, theatre and dance resulting in an immersive experience across the arts. We were also gutted to miss artist Wolfgang Buttress’ ensemble BE which took place at Coventry Cathedral. This performance was a unique soundscape that featured the live-streamed sound of 50,000 bees from a hive within the Cathedral grounds, alongside a choir developed specifically for the evening. Those who I spoke to who did attend described it as “hypnotic”, “mesmerising” and “out of this world”. A real meditative performance that tapped into another level of consciousness. Also nationally renowned performance poet, John Hegley performed live at Fargo Village on 10th Oct for World Mental Health Day.

It was a delight to have something such as well-rounded, thought-provoking event happening in the city, so sensitively executed yet with such a celebratory nature. A quarter of the UK population are believed to experience mental health problems, so for many of us, the issues explored in this festival were very close to home. Yet this festival broke down the stigma of so many issues facing people today, and beautifully demonstrated the power of creativity on a journey of self-discovery, wellbeing and recovery. Well done to all who were involved in putting on such a vast, refreshing event, which will leave us talking for weeks to come. You’ve set the bar now! We can’t wait to see what the 2018 Scratch the Surface Festival will have in store.

Artist Spotlight: Natalie Seymour

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Up and coming local photographer, Natalie Seymour, is currently displaying work at #TheFuture exhibition for the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art. Natalie has a distinct style in which she creates composite images as documentation of derelict buildings. We’ve interviewed Natalie to find out more about her photography practice, and the work she created as a response to the CET Building – Coventry Biennial’s central exhibition space.

What type of artist would you describe yourself as?

I would describe myself as a Fine Art Photographer as my layered images have a painterly aesthetic.

What mediums do you use?

I explore derelict buildings and document my findings then layer my photography to create Digital Photo Collages.

What themes do you explore in your work?

My work captures buildings in a state of dereliction and shows the confusing nature of exploring abandoned places where one decaying element often blurs into the next.

What will you be displaying at the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art?

I am displaying 3 Digital Photo Collages at the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art. The images aim to capture the essence of The Coventry Telegraph building prior to its change of use and modernisation.

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What other artists have you drawn inspiration from?

Aesthetically I am inspired by painters such as John Monks, I love the mood conveyed in his paintings and the texture. I also look at a lot of documentary photography of Derelict buildings for example Romain Veillon who photographs abandoned buildings across the world.

What is the next project you are planning?

I am currently an AA2A artist at Coventry University so I will be developing new works at the University for an exhibition. Following a similar theme I will be creating works based on my explorations of abandoned places but using different techniques and materials to develop my work.

 What are your future plans as a Visual Artist?

In the future I would like to do a Masters degree and continue exhibiting works.

Where can people find out more about you?

People can see more of my work and find out more at the following:

Instagram: @natalie_seymour_artist

www.facebook.com/NatalieSeymourArtist/

www.natalieseymour93.wixsite.com/artist

Twitter: @natalieseymour_

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Introducing Ha – and their latest project “Re-tale”

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Ha is an artist led organisation based in Coventry, Warwickshire and the West Midlands and is led by artists Rob Hamp and Andrea Hannon. Ha will be exhibiting their latest project “Re-tale” at the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art. We’ve interviewed them to find out more about their work, and what they’ve got lined up for the Biennial.

How did you first meet and form as an artist collaboration?

We met in 2012 at Coventry University whilst both working in the area of Fine Art in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. We formed Ha in 2015.

 What type of artwork do you create together?

Our work is responsive as a result of specific interactions/occupations/ inhabitations with existing people/spaces/places. We undertake and develop projects that focus on social/public engagement, with a particular interest in the relationship between the self, space and place in relation to how we occupy, use and negotiate the places in which we reside.

The artwork is of a documentary style, data gathering through the use of visual and textual documentation; video, photography and audio recording. Which is then developed further through installation based works.

Tell us about the project Re-tale which you will be exhibiting at the Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art

Retail in cities is evolving due to regeneration and the ever-changing needs of society. In an age where technology means you can have what you need at the click of a button, closing down sale signs are becoming a common sight changing the landscape of the cities in which we live.

Re-tale focuses particularly on the city of Coventry asking the viewer/audience/customer to tell us their tales about Coventry as their city. Three questions; (What is your favourite thing about Coventry? What is your favourite building in Coventry? What is your fondest memory about Coventry?) will appear on a postcard in the carrier bag the viewer is able to take away. The answers will be shared via twitter and the cards collated for data gathering.

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The bags will be on display in the Glass box on Earl Street, which is set up as a ‘pop-up’ re-tale premises. They can also be collected from other venues Fargo and the CET building during the Coventry Biennial.

“Those who throw stones should not live in Glass Boxes”. The Glass Box originally purpose built, non-organically considered, as an architectural showroom for all people of Coventry to visit and air their views on the sample designs being considered for the cities redevelopment, for that reason is a fitting venue for such an undertaking. Now through Re-tale it is a mechanism for very similar gain and hopes to draw out once more on the fact that historically Coventry has been one of the most democratic cities in the world. This true, potentially hard-hitting anonymous data gathering exercise can be recorded and registered. All that is of importance is the answers the audience provides. Straightforward, transparent and leaving no opportunity for confusion. A basic and outreaching mode of data gathering occurs through an audience that once leaving the Glass Box (H.Q), Fargo or the CET Building, carrying their bag becomes a transient, active and integral part of the Re-tale exhibition.

Our Re-tale premises in the Glass Box can be viewed as stark and baron, almost ready to close its doors for the very last time, let to us on a short-term lease because nobody loves it anymore. However there is nothing better to draw the crowds than a deal, a deal that ask only of the viewer/customer to parade our artwork through the city, answer our questions and in return we promise to supply your thoughts to the city.

Where and what dates will the exhibition run?

Throughout the duration of the Biennial (6th – 22nd October).

Do you have plans for any future projects together?

Yes, we have other projects in the pipeline. Re-tale in particular is a small part of a larger intended project. Watch this space.

Where can people follow you for more info? 

https://retaleha.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/titled_ha

You can find out more about all the events in store for the Coventry Biennial here.

Coventry University MA Exposé – Postgrad Showcase

This week Curating Coventry was invited along to the Private Viewing of the MA Exposé Postgrad Exhibition. And boy, did they deliver! This incredible showcase of raw talent blew us away.

First stop was MA Painting display on the top floor of the Graham Sutherland building. We turned straight into a beautiful, vibrant collection of surrealist style paintings, which formed Tabi Lampe’s display. We got to chat to the artist and it was upon discovering what inspires her creativity that her work became even more exciting to view.

Tabi explores the different levels of human consciousness, and how the activity of regularly creating art pushes you through limitations and inhibitions. This results in a higher level of consciousness, self-awareness, acute intuition and inner freedom. It is escapism from the fear-driven mind-sets, and limited state of ‘being’ in which we have become conditioned to in today’s world. As you view her paintings, you really feel the sense of the release and freedom that the artist was experiencing, as she delved into the higher state of consciousness.

This amazing installation accompanied the paintings, featuring pinecones delicately emitting from the central figure – each pine cone symbolic of the pineal gland – that gland that was once know as the “third eye”.

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Round the corner was a charming collection by Jennifer Shufflebotham’s “Sri Lanka Series” – a result that has grown from the organic relationship of combining photography and painting.

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The process in which the artist took to create the final pieces is an interesting journey in itself. The photographs were captured during experiences travelling Sri Lanka. She creates composite images from photo combinations, in which working drawings are created. These are then adapted to paintings. The result is this wonderful series of fictitious scenes, and the combination of mediums results in an original and distinct style of painting.

Andy Farr, is another artist exhibiting a seriously impressive display, featuring a combination of different projects that he’s worked on.

“Lost Generation” was the first we explored – a project he ran with the Arts Council of England across a number of schools, designed to make WW1 centenary relevant to today’s youth. Dark scenes of the bloody aftermath WW1 battlegrounds, combined with scenes of a modern festival – mud-bathed fields with bodies strewn over the land. In the modern scenes, are the teenagers dead? Sleeping? Or is this just the morning after a heavy night partying at the festival?

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In contrast to this, his “Black Dogs” collection of paintings were created in response to reflections and experience of mental health issues. We particularly loved “Swing”, and “Carousel’ which combine a more abstract style with eerie dream-like scenes of an abandoned funfair.

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Andy has secured a Studio Space at the Meter Rooms in Coventry, so we’re looking forward to seeing more great work from him.

Other great work included a great collection of landscape scenes by Yue Haung, incorporating this wonderful painting installation of dark, foreboding mountainous rock scenes, painted into the gallery space.

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Samridhi Khandelwalgreat “Shadows” installation piece and an striking sequence of stunning modern figurative paintings.

Yiwen Chen’s display combines drapes of fabric with her paintings, and creates collections of delicate miniature paintings, combined together to form a single artwork.

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We then moved along to the Glassbox Gallery, which was exhibiting the Contemporary Practice MA. We loved the diversity and assortment of different mediums truly expressing the individuality of the artists on display. Artwork included 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, plus more sculptural, installation art.

The combination such a variety of contemporary mediums resulted in wonderfully eclectic showcase of creative expression, which pushed through convention.

All in all this was such an outstanding showcase of the quality of work coming from the post-grads of Coventry University. We were really blown away by the pure talent and integrity of this impressive show, and looking forward to seeing more from these gifted individuals in the future.

Highlights from Spon Spun

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Last weekend we set out to explore the Art Trail of the second ever Spon Spun festival. What a super adventure that was. We met a wonderful and diverse collection of artists with a really impressive selection of work on display. From sculptural installations to digital creations, the beautiful handcraft created at local workshops to cutting-edge docu-photography. There really was something for everyone. Unfortunately we ran out of time to visit every location, however we got to see what we missed at the follow-up exhibition at City Arcadia Gallery (showing until 30th Sept). Would really recommend stopping by when you are next in town.

See their Facebook event page here.

So here’s how the day went…

First stop – The Ruined Chapel – Michelle Englefield’s enchanting sculptural installation “Dwelling”. As you step inside and engaged with it, it took on a whole different perspective. The nature-like quality of the dome sat perfectly in this beautiful setting, so you really got a feel of how she adapted the piece of art to it’s environment.

Our next find was find was this wonderful digital piece “Loop the Loop” by Carol Breen, placed in the window of Spon End Chip Shop.

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Third stop was with local artist and poet, Mary Courtney. We got to leave our mark on “The Big Draw” – dozens of people had got involved and added their sketches – all of which were stories and memories they had to share from experiences in Spon End.

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Next stop was the Albany Theatre where we got to view some wonderful images by local docu-photographer Thomas Tierney, as part of his project “Spon End Stories”. He captures both the hidden beauty and reality of everyday life in Spon End.  Sadly we arrived too late for the tour to see the performance at the theatre, so had to swiftly move onto the next location…

Coventry Men’s Shed – the organisation was set up to help with the health and wellbeing of men aged 30 and over. They work to regain a greater level of confidence and self-worth through engaging in creative activities. What an impressive collection of arts and crafts they had on display! We have so much respect for what they do.

We then walked up through the park and stumbled upon these lovely textile pieces which were created at workshops at Weaver’s House. A charming addition to the playground.

We then wandered up to St John’s Church to view this wonderful painting by Chiara Grant, “Trust and Friendship for a Game”. Another really talented local artist – a recent graduate of Fine Art & Contemporary Practice MA. Hope to see more great work from her again soon.

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Before running out of time we managed a visit of Holyhead Studios. The first exhibition we visited there was – “Neighbourhood”, by local urban docu-photographer Alan Van Wijgerden. This work was curated by Coventry artist Kate Hawkins who has a keen interest in human geography. “Neighbourhood” looks at the history and evolution of the post-war built environment in Spon End. Really interesting, and informative display.

Then our final stop was the top floor at Holyhead studios where we got to chat to renown local artist Martin Green about the project he is currently working on for the forthcoming Coventry Biennial. This will be on display at the old Coventry Evening Telegraphy building. His studio is fascinating to view, with vast collections of categorised found objects. These form the medium in which he works, combined with painting and sculptural pieces, which can be engaged and interacted with. Really looking forward to seeing what’s to come at the Biennial.

To sum it, this was a wonderful showcase of local talent, and a perfect example of the depth and range of the city’s visual arts.

Artist Spotlight: Rob Hamp

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Rob is currently exhibiting his work in Drapers’, Coventry and will be exhibiting in the forthcoming Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art (as part of a collaboration with artist Andrea Hannon).

We have interviewed Rob to find out more about his own practice. Here’s what he has to say…

What type of artist would you describe yourself as?

I am an author – artist – constructor, my practice resonates visually with constructivist works, however due to my written work that underpins it, it is in fact far closer to the Suprematist movement.

What mediums do you use?

My work is purged down into materials, both new and used depending on the written work. “Truth to Material” is paramount in selecting object and material, natural for a truthful statement and man-made for the untruthful.

What themes do you explore in your work?

The truth and untruth played out with humour and tragedy.

Could you describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

It depends what dimension I am playing out? What is real-life and what is merely make believe? “On the face of it”

What other artists have you drawn inspiration from?

Tatlin, El Liszitsky, Rodchenko, Malevich, Shakespeare, Beckett and Pinter.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently exhibiting at Stryx. Title: Un-scene (phase one) with Halina Dominska, (phase two) is on the 17th of September.

“Van Trip” has just been funded as phase two of “From East to West with Love” and more news will be available very soon.

Where can we see you exhibiting next?

Stryx, Birmingham now.

Drapers’ now.

Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art as “Ha” – A long-term collaboration with artist Andrea Hannon.

Find out more here … https://coventrybiennial.com/re-tale/

You can view more of Rob’s work on http://robhamp.co.uk/

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