Duncan Whitley, Phoenix City 2021, Production Still.

Duncan Whitley, Phoenix City 2021, Production Still.

Information on the third Coventry Biennial has been announced as part of the programme for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

The Biennial will take place from Friday 8 October 2021 until January 2022 across Coventry and Warwickshire. Titled ‘HYPER-POSSIBLE’, in a reference to the radical nature of Coventry’s history, it also signifies a positive way forward following a very difficult 2020. The Biennial will be a key visual arts element of the Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

The exhibitions, events and activities which make up the third Biennial will focus on three important movements in art history which have centered in Coventry and Warwickshire:

Art & Language – A group of artists, students and lecturers who met at Coventry Polytechnic in the late 1960s. The group were internationally successful and had a huge impact on what was becoming known at the time as Conceptual Art.

The BLK Art Group – Black art students who were based across the Midlands in the 1980s and had a significant group exhibition at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in 1983.

Cybernetic Culture Research Unit – Researchers associated with the Philosophy Department of the University of Warwick in the 1990s and early 2000s who have had a significant impact on contemporary thinking and international artistic practice.

Georgiou & Tolley, Twin Stranger. Film still.

Artists will use these three moments as starting points for new commissions, developing artworks that respond to current global concerns and trends within contemporary artistic practice. They have already commissioned a number of artists, many from the West Midlands. These include Ryan ChristopherFaye ClaridgeLaura DickenGeorgiou & TolleyAlan Van Wijgerden and Duncan Whitley.

Over the coming months each artist, along with local galleries, museums, curators and communities, will contribute to creating the HYPER-POSSIBLE.

The full programme will be announced in the lead-up to the start of the Coventry UK City of Culture in May 2021.

Information on the third Coventry Biennial has been announced as part of the programme for Coventry UK City of Culture 2021.

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/actor-russell-tovey-to-judge-2021-turner-prize

Turner Prize exhibition moves to Herbert Art Gallery and Museum as part of the year-long UK City of Culture 2021 festival. Kim McAleese, Grand Union Programme Director and member of New Art West Midlands Advisory Group will be on the Turner Prize Jury – via The Arts Newspaper.

© Shiyi Li, 2020

© Shiyi Li, 2020

Thirteen Ways of Looking

2 October – 13 December 2020. The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry

Thirteen Ways of Looking brings together 13 artists and curators, presenting works which challenge dominant narratives, where art belongs, where it’s experienced and who is being addressed.

Works by six early career artists from the West Midlands and seven established artists and curators have been selected, highlighting diverse forms of experience, knowledge and understanding, and exploring different strategies of resistance that overlap and intersect in the physical spaces of the gallery and digitally online.

The show includes six new commissions by artists from the West Midlands alongside selected key art works made by members of the Blk Art Group, highlighting its important connections to Coventry, including the initial meeting of group members Eddie Chambers and Keith Piper in the city 40 years ago.

The development of the exhibition has also included the facilitation of professional development and mentoring for the early career artists, to support and help them realise new work in uncertain times.

Participating artists and curators: Hira Butt, Eddie Chambers, Sonya Dyer, Andreana Fatta, Hyphen-Labs, Navi Kaur, Shama Khanna, Roshini Kempadoo, Shiyi Li, Farwa Moledina, Keith Piper, Donald Rodney and Matías Serra Delmar.

Thirteen Ways of Looking has been curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri through a New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art.

#13waysoflooking

 

Participating artists and curators:

© Hira Butt, 2020

Hira Butts work explores ideologies of gender and cultural dominance, exploring the place of Pakistani women within marital and domestic spaces. Through personal experience and conversations with a number of married Pakistani women, the artist seeks to critique both the wedding day,  and the life promised that often does not materialise.

© Farwa Moledina, 2020.

Farwa Moledina works with pattern and textile, addressing issues surrounding feminism, faith, Muslim women and women of colour. She is interested in using pattern and textiles to challenge Western narratives and create pieces celebrating Muslim women, focusing on depicting iconic moments from the 21st century.

Andreana Fatta, Μια Aτελείωτη Συνομιλία (An Endless Conversation) 2020. Video still.

Andreana Fattas research-based practice is informed by Cypriot cultural displacement which she activates through archives; expressing colonisation, war, lost histories and identities. For this work, she will digitise photographs, home videos, letters and literature addressing Cyprus and its complex colonial history.

© Shiyi Li, 2020

Shiyi Lis work encompasses collaborative performances including contemporary jazz music, multi-screen animation projections, digital media and a live art performance. The work tells the story of a Chinese woman having recently migrated to a Western country, exploring the awakenings brought to her through her experience of entering a new space and location.

© Navi Kaur, 2020.

Navi Kaur focuses on the migrant experience, specifically around journeys, environment, storytelling and documentary. She explores the lives of her paternal grandparents encompassing their Sikh faith and daily regimes, working predominantly through the processes of digital photography, film and installation.

© Matías Serra-Delmar, 2020.

Matías Serra-Delmars work takes references from the raw materials found encircling construction sites in fast-growing cities across the world, to create both indoor and outdoor installations.  For this work the artist will create different site-specific installations in and around the Herbert Gallery. The idea behind this is to break up the exhibition space and decentre” the spectator from the usual way that the gallery space is utilised.

Keith Piper will be showing THIRTEEN DEAD 1981, created whilst he was a member of the BLK Art Group, in response to the New Cross Massacre – 1981 in which 13 young black people lost their lives in an apparent act of racist violence . Arrests were not made and there was a marked indifference by the white population, leading to protests from Black communities.

Donald Rodney (now deceased) will be represented by the work, Autoicon, a dynamic internet work and CD-ROM that simulates both the physical presence and elements of the creative personality of the artist Donald Rodney, who died from sickle-cell anaemia, o on loan from the artistsestate. He will also be represented by How the West Was Won on loan from the Tate. How the West was Won from 1982 was painted when Rodney was only 21 and a student at Nottingham Trent University.  It dates to a time when he was part of the BLK Art Group, group producing work that engaged directly with the socio-political issues of the time.

Roshini Kempadoo will be showing work from Virtual Exiles 1999-2000 This work explores the experiences of persons who have left their country of origin and who are now at homein another. Engaging with historical, family and contemporary photographs of Guyana. Kempadoo will also be showing Moove…[s]In solidarity new photographic prints created during the pandemic, addressing both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement and protests.

Hyphen-Labs will be showing the VR piece NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism using VR to tell stories and centre the experiences of women of colour. Created partly as a response to Black Lives Matter in relation to the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling In the US, the VR work shows Black women as neuroscientists using the domain of the beauty salon as a rebel underground network for a radically new shared system of communication.

Eddie Chamberswork Deconstruction of the National Front, on loan from Tate, will be shown as part of the exhibition. Chambers was a founder member of the BLK Art Group in the early 1980s. Destruction of the National Front is a direct response to the appropriation of a national flag by a racist nationalist ideology. In the work Chambers makes use of the disruptive connotations of collage and montage to undo the association of the nation with fascism.

Sonya Dyer will be showing Hailing Frequencies Open – focussing on ongoing videos with Black women scientists. Hailing Frequencies Open (HFO), her current body of work, intersects the Greek myth of Andromeda, the dubious legacy of HeLa cells and actor Nichelle Nicolspioneering work in diversifying the NASA astronaut pool in the 1970s as the starting point for an exploration of Black female subjectivities within narratives of the future. HFO combines social justice with speculation, fantasy with the political.

Shama Khanna is the creator of Flatness a long-running commissioning and sharing platform. A website that showcases the work of a range of artists, allowing artwork to be seen outside of the gallery space. Shama Khanna will write a critical research piece about the site, looking at the ways in which through deconstruction and disorder it challenges the way audiences predominantly view and experience art within a white cube space.

An exhibition curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri.

A New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial.

 

Supported by

 

We are delighted to announce a brand new exhibition titled ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking’, running at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, 2 October – 13 December. A New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial. Curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri.

Artist Sarah Byrne exhibited in New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial 2019. Having recently completed her Masters degree at the University of Wolverhampton, she has gone on to undertake a residency at The New Art Gallery Walsall. We caught up with her to find out more about her practice, and her approaches to the residency on site and during lockdown.

Clean your hands, 2020, print on A4 paper


How have you approached the residency? What have been your starting points?

The residency largely offered me a space to play, and to try things without too much planning or thought. Something I began to value during my Masters was what I called ‘mindless’ work. It’s like the opposite of being mindfull, which is associated with having to be very present and aware – something which honestly just freaked me out because there are times I didn’t want to be so aware, I just wanted to shut off and let things happen. One of my favourite chefs, Jack Monroe (2019) wrote in the method for her Self Love Stew, that:

“Stirring is key. It is soothing. It is mindless, not mindful. Sod mindful. My mind is full enough. It is a minefield. Sometimes I want to stir some stuff and stare at my hands or into nothing”.

I find it’s a great metaphor for how I try to approach my work now – mindless stirring. Just using the right ingredients, and then letting the flavours come together themselves.

So how I started was by bringing a bunch of materials into the studio without any solid plan, just some notes I’d made on my phone during the months leading up to it. I already understood where my work stood conceptually from recently finishing my Masters, so it was a great opportunity to let the materials take the lead and see what I could allow them to do.

First day in the Artist’s Studio at The New Art Gallery Walsall


Can you tell me more about your work in the lead up to the residency, specifically that as part of your MA and shown during New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial?

My practice explores the relationship that I have with my dual nationality, and explores imagery and thoughts relating to my mixed race heritage.

I began with an interest in the photographs and photo albums my mum curated of me growing up. She still keeps and displays them, in leather-bound chronological order on the bookshelf. I began a material exploration of these photographs, viewing myself and my narrative with a different, analytical eye to how I would normally view them. I looked at them at this point as if I were an anthropologist, rather than a family member. The impulsive family snapshot became important, as did the consideration of how I’d grown up with value placed on my race as an identifier, with muddled memories of feeling tokenised by both sides.

As I repeatedly used and re-used the photographs, remembering stories, smells, sounds and emotions, I began to question the reliability of my own narrative voice, becoming aware that I was attempting to recall a period of my childhood which is commonly misremembered by many. I was already going through a process of comparing digital and human memory, and doubts around my attempts to recall events were making me question a degree of computer-like overwriting and corruption within memories. At the time of the New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial, the visuals I was creating would explore the ideas of glitching, malfunctioning and faultiness in relation to human memory. The approach of collage on an overhead projector allowed for an ambiguous and infinite number of possible scenarios using a decided collection of existing objects, environments and disruptions.

In the lead up to the end of my MA and my gallery residency, my work had also developed to consider trends relating to skin whitening in South East Asia.  A strong memory I hold from my trips to the Philippines is the overbearing presence of skin whitening treatments. I remember on one trip to the Philippines, after using up all the sun protection cream we’d brought with us from home, my dad and I were searching for more in the local Boots pharmacy equivalent. I remember picking up and examining each of the bottles and being unable to find a product that wasn’t selling itself on its whitening or bleaching properties. The metaphor of fading and bleaching began to be included in the discussion around distortion and concealing in relation to memory.

Me circa 1996, Umingan, Pangasinan, Philippines


How have you utilised materials and motifs?

In the Philippines there is a huge value placed on Westernism. Historically, the Philippines have been owned by both Spain and America, making it a cultural hybrid of these places as well as its geographical location in Asia. Something I observed (and became very uncomfortable with) even as a young child, was that my dad and I were revered for visiting there as white people. People in the markets would stop, stare and point, people would approach us for money, sometimes begging, sometimes threatening. Conversations would revolve around my appearance, with huge worth placed on my “lovely light skin”.

Growing up, this gave me whiplash as I compared it to the treatment I received for being Asian when back home in England. At school, it was a running joke for many that I looked Chinese … My nationality was my identifier, and the way people would introduce me. “This is Sarah – she’s Filipino”, they’d say, pre-empting that the other person would be wondering that already. My descriptors would shift to “lovely olive skin”. Which was I, then? And why did it matter so much?

The bleaching soap was one of the ideas leading the work at the start of the residency as I saw it as an object which could speak of lots of different metaphors and dialogues. My parents had recently been on a visit there, so I asked them to pick me up some of the boxes they saw in the supermarkets!

There’s something to note in that many of the whitening properties lie in women’s cleaning products. I don’t notice the same sort of marketing in the men’s variety of soaps and deodorants. I thought then about the cleaning products themselves, and their purpose. Cleaning. Whitening. Like the intention is to wash your skin colour away. The same language wouldn’t seem out of place on a bottle of Cillit Bang. I started to consider this in parallel with the disintegration and fade treatment in my work.

In addition, another motif which has been important throughout the residency, has been the colour yellow. I did a series of Instagram posts about this, discussing how my instinctual relation of the colour to the Filipino landscape was what initially drew me to the colour, but then how it developed to become something important to continue with. There’s a broad consideration of the colour yellow in reference to Asian countries. It became quickly established in the world that there were black people and there were white people. More recently brown, too, has become a common descriptor. But where did Filipino people belong in these categories? Reclaiming and taking possession of Yellow outside of its former derogatory context gives us a “little flag to fly” (Chok, V. (2016) ‘Yellow’, in The Good Immigrant. London: Unbound, pp.33–44.)

Texture study (detail), 2020, water and soap on acetate, overhead projector


You have shared some really interesting content on Instagram during your residency so far. Given the Covid-19 situation and the residency pause, how do you hope to continue to use digital platforms to share your thinking and research moving forward?

Thank you! The staff at the gallery have been incredibly supportive during this time. I have been continuing my Instagram takeovers on the gallery account, and have been very grateful for the responses I receive on that platform.

With so many of us now staying at home, an at-home art practice is something that I think is important not just on an individual basis, but in terms of sharing and contributing to an online community that others can view or feel involved in. A lockdown practice doesn’t have to be that productive or important, but the act of setting a goal for yourself or having something enjoyable to be working on, can be so important for wellbeing in this weird limbo. I’ve found that since the lockdown has been enforced, the viewing numbers on my Instagram stories have shot up, and the number of responses have increased, as more people are turning to their phones and social media with their extra time.

I’ve found social media, and particularly Instagram stories, to be really positive in encouraging me to write in a voice like I’d write to a mate. It’s not my ‘academic’ voice, or the one that would maybe be present in an artist statement. I don’t do any planning for them, and I barely proofread them. I try to engage my stream of consciousness, and not put pressure on myself to sound a certain way. I’ve personally found this to be very freeing, and based on the responses I’ve had, it has allowed others to get a good insight into how I think through and make decisions around my work as it happens.

On a personal level, documenting this stream of consciousness is also great for me to formalise the ‘bitty’ thoughts that might otherwise be lost and overwritten by the next idea as I potter about with my materials. It leaves more for me to reflect on after the fact, and can be more beneficial in developing those threads further as I progress. It’s definitely something I’ll adopt to featuring more on my personal page after this residency is finished.

Clean your face, 2020, print on A4 paper


What’s next?

I wrote my MA thesis in the style of a book, titled Chinese Burn. It’s in some ways similar to how I voiced my Instagram stories, I aimed to write it in a language that straddled conversational and academic. I didn’t want it to be a book that only my supervisor would read, and would be impenetrable and/or useless to anyone else.

On completion of the book, I had a small handful of copies printed and was pleased that Deborah Robinson at the gallery decided to curate one of the books into the MA show beside my work.  Since giving sneak peaks of it online, I’ve had queries from people wanting to know where they can purchase a copy! I’d love to be able to self-publish it properly, and I’m currently looking into options which I hope to be able to pursue relatively soon.

As my work develops I would be interested in exploring the possibility of more books, perhaps exploring the work I’ve been able to play with during this residency and documenting the thinking and process.

Ultimately, I’ve been saying that the end of my Masters does not equal the end of this body of work. It’s still very much something that’s developing and spitting out new outcomes as it goes. It will be great to return to my studio space at Eagle Works in future when this current dystopian reality is lifted, but for now I’m very grateful for my dining table studio space, and I hope for more sunny Spring weather so I can use my garden to explore sun-bleaching and drawing possibilities.

 

www.sarah-byrne.com/
@sarahqueenofrat

 

Artist Sarah Byrne exhibited in New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial 2019. Having recently completed her Masters degree at the University of Wolverhampton, she has gone on to undertake a residency at The New Art Gallery Walsall. We caught up with her to find out more about her practice, and her approaches to the residency on site and during lockdown.

Installation view (detail), Andreana Fatta, Ξεριζωμένη Γενιά / An Uprooted Generation, Copper pipes, Greek orthodox candle wax, archived objects and publication at St. Mary's Guildhall, Coventry, Exhibition as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial 2019. Photograph by Marcin Sz.

We are delighted to announce that the New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artists selected for the Engine Room professional development programme and the forthcoming autumn 2020 exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum are: Hira Butt, Andreana Fatta, Navi Kaur, Shiyi Li, Farwa Moledina and Matías Serra Delmar.

 

Installation view (detail), Andreana Fatta, Ξεριζωμένη Γενιά / An Uprooted Generation, Copper pipes, Greek orthodox candle wax, archived objects and publication at St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry, Exhibition as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial 2019. Photograph by Marcin Sz.

 

The artists have been selected from this year’s cohort of exhibiting artists by Sylvia Theuri, Curator in Residence with New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum. The themes central to the forthcoming exhibition, curated by Sylvia, emphasise notions of ‘decentering’ – that is, removing from the ‘centre’ a focus on subject matter and art historical narratives that prioritise Western and male perspectives, as well as challenging the traditional presentation of artwork in gallery spaces.

The premise of the exhibition will be for the Herbert Art Gallery to be interrupted, appropriated and transformed (as Edward Soja notes in his 1996 text Thirdspace) by the artworks, subject matter and forms that the artists explore.

The artists have been selected because they decentre a predominant white male European focus that has been historically central to art exhibitions, through a centering of the narratives of minoritised voices, perspectives and experiences, and/or because they decentre – through deconstruction and disorder – the ways in which audiences predominantly view artwork within a white cube space.

Sylvia and the teams at New Art West Midlands, the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum and International Curators Forum look forward to working with the selected artists to profile and showcase this exciting art developing in the region.

 

 

 

We are delighted to announce the 6 New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artists selected for the Engine Room professional development programme and the forthcoming autumn 2020 exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum.

https://www.axisweb.org/films/2019/the-row-axisweb-vacant-space-coventry/

The Row is a former NHS building located in the centre of Coventry. The space is currently being used by Coventry Artspace, a charity supporting the development of artists and the visual arts in Coventry. Most recently it was a venue for Coventry Biennial 2019.

In their film, Axisweb talk to Mindy Chillery, Executive Director of Coventry Artspace; Ryan Hughes, Founder and Artistic Director of Coventry Biennial and Mousethings (artists Adelaida Antúnez Egurbide and Alfie Gibbs) who were the recipients of the Axisweb commission to show work at the Coventry Biennial.

Georgia Tucker, Terra Firma, VR installation, 2019

Georgia Tucker, Terra Firma, VR installation, 2019

Terra Firma (2019) by Georgia Tucker combines a physical and VR installation which explores the environmental crisis through different spaces. The installation is a narrow room that houses an immersive and interactive VR environment portraying a speculative future of increasing consumerism. Terra Firma exemplifies the artist’s concerns of our impact upon the natural environment and the production of man-made materials, represented respectively by woodland and plastic.

Further interaction with the work comes through a QR code, providing a weblink and narrative. The narrative is set 50 years in the future, where Georgia transports the viewer to Earth’s last natural woodland. A plastic netting ‘viewing’ barrier has been used to prevent further damage to the woodland. However, it has adapted, and thrives within the trees as an organism. The viewer is now encased within a compartmental maze and a natural soundscape, and is able to explore the tunnels and never-ending plastic structures. Whilst VR exposes the viewer to vulnerability, removing their sight and sound, the building provides a place of protection.

Georgia is a graduate of Birmingham City University. Her work, on display at The Row, was selected  by International Curators Forum for New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

Georgia Tucker’s virtual reality installation Terra Firma was selected by International Curators Forum for New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. Her work is on display at The Row.

Ameera Sadiq, Untitled, 2019, mixed media installation

Ameera Sadiq, Untitled, 2019, mixed media installation

Ameera Sadiq is interested in how our perceived reality, constructed from our sensory input, can transform the perception of our environment. Her current sculptural assemblages aim to convey a sense of disconnectedness from reality, bearing a resemblance to a virtual world or out of body experience. The work has an otherworldly appearance marked by the intensity of luminescent colour schemes, and metallic and plastic surfaces that evoke futuristic and technological environments. Her practice draws inspiration from sci-fi cinematography, exploring unsettling dystopian worlds, where futuristic realities fail, when dreams and desires become questionable.

Drawings and collages allow Ameera to build a library of ideas that inform the construction of her sculptural installations. She employs an experimental approach to rethink and utilise everyday objects and materials by violating their intended use and depicting them serving an alternate purpose. Ameera frequently uses mass produced objects and materials to explore their technological capabilities.

Ameera’s installation is on view at the Lanchester Gallery, Graham Sutherland Building, Coventry University as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. She is a graduate of Birmingham City University.

 

Ameera Sadiq’s installation at The Lanchester Gallery is the subject of our next New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist spotlight.

Betsy Bradley, Swing to Utsuroi, Acrylic on reclaimed canvas, found wood, hemp rope

Betsy Bradley, Swing to Utsuroi, Acrylic on reclaimed canvas, found wood, hemp rope

Betsy Bradley’s practice seeks to communicate an experience of the present moment, embodying a dialogue between thought and action. Paint acts as an extension of the artist’s body and mind, physically suspending impulsive gesture. Her meditative processes unify these elements of being; moments free from thought in which the paint takes on its own agency. Driven by discovery, Betsy deliberately evokes moments that lie on the cusp of becoming. Her use of found materials and improvised mark-making tools challenge the hierarchical connotations of traditional painting. Fluid interaction between loose canvas and found objects extends this gesture beyond mark making on to the painting as an object itself. Informed by their immediate surroundings, improvisational structures serve as both supports and sculptures in her practice that question conventional notions of painting display. Betsy relies on a reciprocal relationship with her environment; spontaneous responses to materials around her result in adaptable works that upend the expected functionality of object and artwork.

www.betsy-bradley.co.uk

Three of Betsy’s paintings are displayed at The Row. She is a recent graduate of Birmingham City University. New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continues until 24 November 2019.

 

The painting-based practice of Betsy Bradley is the focus of today’s artist spotlight from New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

http://thisistomorrow.info/articles/the-twin-coventry-biennial-of-contemporary-art

Emily Hale reviews Coventry Biennial: The Twin, focussing on exhibitions at The Row and Herbert Art Gallery and Museum – via this is tomorrow

Farwa Moledina, Not Your Fantasy II, Birmingham School of Art, 2018

Farwa Moledina, Not Your Fantasy II, Birmingham School of Art, 2018

Not Your Fantasy is a series of textile prints by Farwa Moledina concerned with re-appropriating and reclaiming Orientalist imagery of Muslim women. The work aims to unveil the voyeuristic tradition of Western male painters, whilst inviting viewers to question the prevalence of Orientalist stereotypes.

The image features a Muslim woman clad in white on a white background. The lack of colour negates all exotic and erotic Orientalist stereotypes, the only colour being the fabric. It is embroidered with the words ‘Not Your Fantasy’ and patterned with fragments of Ingres’ painting ‘La Grande Odalisque’, criticised for its appropriation and sexualisation of Eastern Culture. Not Your Fantasy is challenging and clearly directed at 19th Century Orientalist painters who created scenes of harems from their imagination and were fascinated by the otherness of the Eastern woman. Here, the subject’s gaze is challenging, opposing the vapid expressions of women found in Orientalist paintings.

www.farwamoledina.com

Not Your Fantasy is exhibited at The Row. New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continues until 24 November 2019.

 

Today’s artist spotlight is Birmingham City University graduate, artist Farwa Moledina, whose work can be found at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art.

Laura Onions, Writing Otherwise (after Marion Richardson), Screen print and acrylic paint on canvas

Laura Onions, Writing Otherwise (after Marion Richardson), Screen print and acrylic paint on canvas

Printmaking, writing and archival research are approaches through which Laura Onions explores the impacts of learning in relation to gender and feminist pedagogies. This responds to the ways language reproduces patterns of meaning. What we read and write situates identities and positions us socially and politically.

Laura’s recent work is focused on female educators/learners who fostered a caring, holistic approach towards education. Archival research into Marion Richardson (1892 – 1946) an artist/educator who transformed the manner in which children learn to write through pattern making, resulted in the series Writing Otherwise in which writerly patterns and textual elements meet one another in functional paintings.

Laura is interested in the spaces we create for ourselves and others. Images of women reading are a reoccurring theme in painting – particularly historical paintings by male artists. The ongoing series The Look of Reading uses painterly printmaking techniques to push the images towards abstraction. The figure and surrounding scene begin to merge, obscuring and shadowing to subvert/invert the male gaze.

A graduate of Birmingham City University, Laura is exhibiting several works across The Row and Bell Green Library in Coventry. New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continues until 24 November 2019.

Laura Onions is the focus of our artist spotlight today. Her work can be found as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial at The Row and Bell Green Library in Coventry.

Amy Guo, Free Time Acquired by Forgetting to Press Pause, screenshot

Amy Guo, Free Time Acquired by Forgetting to Press Pause, screenshot

Amy Guo’s practice works within the frame of digital technology, glitch, documentation and time, investigating our relationship to these phenomena. Digital material and space are explored through projection, video, painting and installation works. Amy views glitch as an unexpected intervention that prevents the normal function of modern technologies. It functions as an apparatus to distort human perception.

Works consider the ways in which our social interactions with others are mediated through technology and the visibility of our digital selves.  In some of her works, a common ground is established by creating a human voice-over video akin to Siri. Amy’s practice comments on the projection of human emotion and intellect on to virtual entities. This articulation of the non-human critically depends on the understanding of our human selves.

A graduate of Staffordshire University, Amy shows a painted work titled Free Time Acquired by Forgetting to Press Pause created via the app Now Then Time Tracking Pro at Arcadia gallery.

New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continue until 24 November 2019.

Next in our artist spotlight series is Staffordshire University’s Amy Guo. Amy’s work is on display at Arcadia Gallery as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial selected by International Curators Forum.

Lily Wales, Mr owl ate my metal worm, Handmade photomontage

Lily Wales, Mr owl ate my metal worm, Handmade photomontage

Lily Wales’ work has previously explored the effect of language on the public perception of nuclear weapons through the names they have been allocated. This was the subject of the work shown in New Art West Midlands 2018 at AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent.

Lily’s new body of work aims to critique the presence that underwater nuclear weaponry has on our natural and political climate. The title ‘Mr owl ate my metal worm’ is a palindrome. The work refers to the sinking of HMS Coventry, a destroyer in the Royal Navy that was part of a pairing, unofficially termed Type 64, with the warship Broadsword. After being struck by Argentine bombs from a second wave of A-4 Skyhawks in 1982, HMS Coventry was sunk to the sea floor, taking its on-board weaponry and nineteen crew members with it.

www.lilywales.co.uk

Lily is a graduate of Birmingham City University. Her work is shown at The Lanchester Gallery and The Row, as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

Lily Wales is today’s artist spotlight. Her work is shown at The Lanchester Gallery and The Row, as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. Her new body of work aims to critique the presence that underwater nuclear weaponry has on our natural and political climate.

Are we really living in a democracy, or a cold war ideology re-imagined?

Georgiou & Tolley’s (Darryl Georgiou & Rebekah Tolley-Georgiou) multi-layered, multi-textured and multi-framed moving image work, Twin Stranger: Entangled State, is currently showing as part of The Twin, at the 2019 Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art. The work has been situated in The Row, a disused NHS building, and as it turns out, an apt site; a building that had previously been a place where only the most vulnerable of society visited, their secrets laid bare in order to receive the care they needed; consent and control? In keeping with the theme of The Twin and also the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the work is also being exhibited in the former GDR, in what is a ‘false original’ of the former Hotel Berolina; now a doppelgänger government building, responsible for issuing fines and parking tickets. Surveillance and control in a different guise?

The Hotel Berolina, which features throughout the film, was built in the German Democratic Republic, long before the wall came down. A symbol of opulence and power; a place for sleeping, eating, meeting, playing but with an added punch of surveillance thrown in for free. Was the status of being seen there, worth the price of really being seen?

 

Who is watching who?’ …

… in the foyer, in the rooms of this Stasi controlled building … opposites and parallels, connections and diversions, play out across the screen as the viewer is pulled into the lobby, suddenly alert to a woman with red hair, a tall man at the elevator, meeting their gaze. A disturbed voice (actor Jack Klaff), asks questions, makes observations and reacts … layered over soundscapes, interviews, conversations, protests. As a viewer the tension becomes palpable, the tempo and the urgency of the dialogue builds, a feeling that you have entered into something very dark and most probably dangerous.

As you start to engage with the work, the many layers begin to make themselves known. Each word, phrase, image and sound is wrapped around double meanings, subliminal messages, hidden text, semiotics, dualities within dualities, juxtaposed against one another. It is an allegorical work that doesn’t take you on a gentle meander but spins you headlong down a fast flowing rapid, heading straight to the open mouth of a monster, that has travelled through time, shape shifting, mercurial and ever present.

Twin Stranger: Entangled State explores the wider themes of Georgiou & Tolley’s previous works: Magician Walks Into The Laboratory, Resistance ’68, and Magician: Walking Back The Cat; regarding mass surveillance, data gathering, paranoia, consent, control, through the lens of both still and moving images, to re-present the past and situate it within the present. In parallel, an associated Twin Stranger Radio Film, to be broadcast on Saturday 16 November, 6-7pm (MixCloud), along with the siting of the work in Berlin, offers a celebration of resistance and revolution against both historical and contemporary Cold War ideologies that lead to the eventual demolition of the Wall. The experimental soundscape: a layering of the moving image, dialogue and location sound recordings, synthesising with the archive material and music of the 1980s.

In addition to Twin Stranger: Entangled State, a ‘sound walk’ entitled, From A to B: Anhalter Bahnof to Berolina, will take place in Berlin on 16 November 2019; passing the site of the former Berolina statue (the female personification of Berolina), that once stood in Alexanderplatz. This sister project and off-site event, will form part of a subsequent limited edition audio work, to accompany the site-specific works in Coventry and Berlin.

How the hell did we get here and why?’

Spend enough time with this work and the parallels with contemporary society become stark and frightening. There’s no need for a Hotel Berolina anymore, there’s no need for a Berlin style wall. Every discovery, every crack in the capitalist right wing armour, is sealed with false originals, wormholes and rabbit holes, and deceptive connections. An invisible panopticon structure that sees all, but remains unseen and untouchable, to all but a few … our digital footprints analysed each time we enter the Hotel Internet, regardless of which room we inhabit.

 

Review by Helen-Kilby Nelson

https://www.artslabinternational.com/twin-stranger-entangled-state

Helen Kilby-Nelson reviews Twin Stranger: Entangled State, a video work by Georgiou & Tolley, currently on display at The Row as part of Coventry Biennial 2019.

Ewan Johnston, Prehistoric Hangover, 2019

Ewan Johnston, Prehistoric Hangover, 2019

Wolverhampton-based Ewan Johnston’s work is rooted in his life and the lives of people around him, while taking influence from historic narratives and myths. Ewan is concerned about what it means to be a young adult living today in a small city in England and describes his practice as political with a medium ‘p’. Working through painting, Ewan’s practice is focussed on colour, survival, joy, fear, humour and pain. He describes his practice as his purpose, his refuge and the way he is most comfortable expressing himself.

Ewan shows a selection of his acrylic paintings on canvas at The Row, a former NHS facility. His work Prehistoric Hangover (2019) is shown in one of the bathrooms open to Coventry Biennial visitors – a playful intervention that challenges and provokes.

Ewan is a graduate of Birmingham City University. New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continue until 24 November 2019.

 

Wolverhampton-based painter Ewan Johnston is the next of our New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist spotlights. A selection of his work can be seen at The Row, a former NHS facility and Coventry Biennial venue.

https://www.axisweb.org/article/the-twin-at-coventry-biennial-of-contemporary-art-2019/

Axis Directory member Helen Kilby-Nelson reports back from The Coventry Biennial, a city-wide arts festival taking place 4 October – 24 November 2019, including the work of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist Ewan Johnston – via axisweb

Shiyi Li, Minister of Lonliness, Live performance and live collage, 2018

Shiyi Li, Minister of Loneliness, Live performance and live collage, 2018

Shiyi Li is a Chinese visual artist, animator and illustrator currently based in Birmingham. Her work Minister of Loneliness is a collaborative performance involving chamber music, animation and live art performances made in conjunction with international percussionist Gloria Yehilevsky and originally performed by Aisling Reilly. The composition expresses concerns around mental health issues, an area in which the artists share personal experiences.

The story divides into four chapters that explore the relationship between women and loneliness. The film combines poetic narrative and montage and addresses the impact of media and scale. The chapters mix animation, live collage, live drawing performances and live music, and tell a story of a woman who progresses from self-denial to emerging positivity.

Minister of Loneliness has been screened and performed internationally in 2018 and 2019 in Bangkok, Saint-Étienne, London and Birmingham. It is screened at the Lanchester Gallery throughout Coventry Biennial, with a special live performance taking place on 15 November at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum as part of New Art West Midlands’ No Limits, the launch of the visual arts strategy for the West Midlands.

shiyili.org

Shiyi is a graduate of Birmingham City University. New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continue until 24 November 2019.

Shiyi Li’s work is showing at The Lanchester Gallery, with a special live performance on 15 November as part of the launch event of New Art West Midlands’ visual arts strategy for the West Midlands.

Rosie Piercy, Give Him Up, flag, pole and fan

Rosie Piercy, Give Him Up, flag, pole and fan

Worcester-based Rosie Piercy deals with the redaction and transparency of public funds and personal debt. Her works are often specific to site and are frequently both critical and playful.

She is showing works at The Row and St Mary’s Guildhall. The first, a new work, consists of sky-blue helium filled balloons highlighting the cost of Coventry Biennial which slowly deflate during the course of the exhibition. A recent balloon sculpture Forever in Debt outlined the exact balance of her student loan and drew attention to the political issues of tuition fees and the socio-economic costs of education in Britain.

Extending her inquiries into the value of culture, Rosie’s flag sculpture Give Him Up, references memes, repetition and internet archives via the familiar face of 1980s pop icon Rick Astley.

www.rosiepiercyfineart.com

Rosie graduated from University of Worcester and was selected for New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial by International Curators Forum.

New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continue until 24 November 2019.

The next of our artist spotlight features is University of Worcester graduate Rosie Piercy, whose work is shown at The Row and St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry.

Navi Kaur, Finding Space in Faith, video, 2018

Navi Kaur, Finding Space in Faith, video, 2018

Navi Kaur is an artist and educator based in Birmingham. She often makes work commenting on the migrant experience, specifically journeys, the environment, storytelling and the documentary. Inspired by an archive of family photographs found in her grandparents’ home, she produces work in response to the lives they have built here in the UK, encompassing their Sikh faith and daily regimes.

Navi works predominantly through the processes of digital photography, film and installation. She works closely with her Budimom, Surinder, and Baba Ji, Karamjit (paternal grandparents), to better understand her own heritage and culture. These are manifest through feelings of displacement in organised environments and highlight the importance of celebrating cultural diversity through cross collaboration.

Her short documentary film Finding Space in Faith is installed with a large 4m x 4m carpet at The Row, part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial, replicating the traditional pattern of a carpet you would find in Sikh Gurdwaras and South Asian family homes. Her work Dreams of Green Beans is displayed at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum as part of the wider Biennial programme.

www.navikaur.com

Navi’s work was selected for New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial by ICF earlier this year, one of 20 artists showing across Biennial sites. She is a graduate of Birmingham City University.

New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial and Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art continue until 24 November 2019.

 

Navi Kaur, today’s artist spotlight from New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial, is showing two video pieces, one in Leamington and one in Coventry.

Matías Serra Delmar, No particular order, OSB boards, wood, sandbags

Matías Serra Delmar, No particular order, OSB boards, wood, sandbags

No particular order was exhibited as part of Matías Serra Delmar’s degree show at Hereford College of Arts, and was placed outside the main entrance of the Grade II listed brick building. No particular order is a large installation made on 11mm OSB boards, originally made with a total length of 56 foot, from wood and sandbags. Its variable length has now been reconfigured and takes up residence at The Row, cutting through its walls assertively and responding to this specific site.

No particular order utilises and references the raw, DIY materials that can be found encircling construction sites in fast-growing cities around the UK, with Coventry being no exception. The work also refers to the artist’s upbringing. Matías was raised in Argentina, where the socio-economic crisis meant that unfinished buildings could become a part of the day-to-day landscape for decades.

www.matiasserradelmar.co.uk

New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial continues in arts venues and historic sites across Coventry until Sunday 24 November 2019.

Matías Serra Delmar, our next New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist spotlight, exhibits his work at The Row. Matías is a graduate of Hereford College of Arts.

Matt Gale, Soma, Plastic, silicone, steel and living organisms

Matt Gale’s Soma explores the idea of the body as an ecosystem and critically examines the commonly held notions of both bodies and ecosystems as discrete, contained and distinct. It is a gentle tease about our tendency to oversimplify and about the fetish for neatly categorising things, often as a means to more easily comprehend them.

Soma comprises a collection of vessels, some containing living organisms, others containing elements intended to represent either an organic or environmental system. Some vessels specifically reference research into bioremediation (using living organisms to digest pollutants we have created), including mealworm beetle larvae eating polystyrene and a water fern (Azolla) used to cleanse fresh water. Other vessels contain species that challenge notions of what is ‘natural’. The installation plays with the idea of oversimplification with individual species contained and displayed as if in a zoo, but it is problematised by the tubes linking vessels together.

www.mattgale.co.uk

Matt graduated from Birmingham City University. His work Soma can be found at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial until 24 November 2019.

 

Our next artist spotlight feature is on Matt Gale, an artist who graduated from Birmingham City University. His work Soma can be found at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

Anna Katarzyna Domejko, Everyone grows a big toe nail from now on, Watercolour on textile, lino, pencil on the wall, agave plant (detail)

Anna Katarzyna Domejko, Everyone grows a big toe nail from now on, Watercolour on textile, lino, pencil on the wall, agave plant (detail)

Philosophies of power and wealth distribution inform Anna Katarzyna Domejko’s installation. The work emblematises a fictional scenario that places humans at odds with a ‘Big Toe Nail Tribe’. In the narrative, the two tribes find themselves unable to communicate with one another, situated on different sides of political, economic and social pivot points, with each having leverage against the other.

Composed of a series of paintings and found objects, the installation’s centrepiece is a fulcrum point comprised of layers of household lino. It is crowned by an agave plant, a species which is resilient and requires little resource to survive. The artist’s aim is that the work be observed from different locations in the gallery space, depending upon your perspective and upon the tribe you choose.

Anna, a graduate of Birmingham City University, is exhibiting at the Lanchester Gallery as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. The exhibition continues until Sunday 24 November 2019.

 

Anna Katarzyna Domejko is our next artist spotlight. Her installation, comprising of paintings and sculptural pieces, is on show at The Lanchester Gallery as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

Gemma Costin, Wanderlust; Version 3.0, Metal, plastic, paint, hessian, soil, wood, plants

 

Gemma Costin describes herself as “a renegade botanist”. Informed by biophilic concerns and passions, her recent work Wanderlust is a travelling seedpod-cum-caravan that used to be the artist’s home. The piece has been awarded a permanent location at the Sidney Nolan Trust in Herefordshire where Gemma will be studying the creatures and the diversity of wildflowers that will take hold and set seed in in and around the caravan over the next few years.

 

Wanderlust; Version 3.0 has been created especially for Coventry Biennial. Gemma’s new living sculptures located at The Row, a former NHS rehabilitation clinic, incorporate plants with herbal, folkloric and medicinal properties that respond to the site. Window boxes made from recycled materials and a new travelling seedpod trolley will make a home for themselves in Coventry during the course of the exhibition.

 

Gemma is a recent graduate from Hereford College of Arts and her work can be found in the Learning Space at The Row.

 

Gemma will take over an exciting, practical, hands-on free family art workshop on Saturday 9 November, 11am – 2pm at The Row. Inspired by Gemma’s artwork and passions you will become mini urban activists, using a variety of materials and techniques to create your own seed bombs which will be planted across the city. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Drop-in session, suitable for ages 5+. More information here.

 

Today Gemma Costin is the subject of our artist spotlight. Her work can be found in the Learning Space at The Row, as part of Coventry Biennial. She will be running a free seed bomb workshop on Saturday 9 November.

Sarah Byrne, Margins of Margins, Overhead projector, prints on acetate and found material

Sarah Byrne, Margins of Margins, Overhead projector, prints on acetate and found material

Interested in memories, nostalgia, narratives and truth, Sarah Byrne’s work forms a reflection of experiences growing up in England as a British girl with an Asian mother. Using and re-using imagery from her mother’s old photo albums showing Sarah’s childhood trips to the Philippines, her practice forms a process of recalling, realising, and questioning the events, exchanges and associations which have contributed to what she describes as a separation in her two national identities.

The work questions what she remembers, versus what she thinks she does, and examines the extent to which memories may glitch, malfunction or overwrite. The imagery explores the extent to which visibility, fade, and blur relate to ethnographical trends of ‘Whiteness’, particularly the proclivity of Western idealisation within South-East Asia. Sarah relates this to her own muddled young memories of feeling tokenised by both sides.

Sarah is a graduate from University of Wolverhampton and has recently been awarded a residency at The New Art Gallery Walsall from February – April 2020.

Sarah’s work is exhibited at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. The exhibition continues across arts venues and heritage sites in Coventry until 24 November 2019.

 

 

 

Our next artist spotlight is Sarah Byrne, a graduate from University of Wolverhampton, who is showing at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial. Her work forms a reflection of experiences growing up in England as a British girl with an Asian mother.

Mengxia Liu, Stefania Reportage Illustration, Gouache, watercolour and coloured pencil on paper

Mengxia Liu, Stefania Reportage Illustration, Gouache, watercolour and coloured pencil on paper

Mengxia Liu’s work explores the collision of multiculturalism in public spaces in different locations around the world. Combining reportage and documentary illustration with an anthropological approach, her research investigates multiple narratives, both explicit and hidden, that can be found in marketplaces. Mengxia employs techniques and methodologies from a cross-cultural perspective to create an ongoing and dynamic record of an ever-changing community that reflects on the multi-layered histories, textures and communities of the market as a site of commerce and diversity.

Stefania Reportage Illustration, is the result of a live project that took place at the 11th Saint-Étienne Biennale of Design in France in March 2019. During this residency period Mengxia observed the ways visitors of different cultural backgrounds interacted with the city’s exhibits and documented the biennale community and culture in the form of detailed reportage illustrations.

Mengxia’s painting is exhibited at Coventry University’s Lanchester Gallery, located within their Graham Sutherland building, as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

She is a recent graduate of Birmingham City University and currently an artist in residence at Grand Union.

www.liumengxia.com/ 

 

Our next Artist Spotlight is on Mengxia Liu whose work explores the collision of multiculturalism in public spaces in different locations around the world. She is a recent graduate of Birmingham City University and currently an artist in residence at Grand Union.

Tayyibah Mota, My Hijab Collection, fabric, plastic, yarn

Tayyibah Mota, My Hijab Collection, fabric, plastic, yarn

 

Through film, photography and mixed media, Coventry-based Tayyibah Mota considers the Hijab, a head covering worn by Muslim women believed to be a display of modesty and an act of devotion to God.

In Western or what we call ‘modern’ societies, this is a foreign practice. To some it is viewed as outdated or even oppressive. For some time, the Hijab and Niqab (veil) have been taboo and in some countries banned. Tayyibah’s work considers the Muslim women who observe the Hijab or Niqab who are now struggling to wear them. She is concerned with their emotions and their voices, sharing the experiences of the British Muslim women that observe this practice through her work.

Tayyibah has spent the past two years speaking to women of different ages and from different backgrounds that wear the Hijab, and has recorded some of these conversations and photographed them to show the diversity that can be found within the practice of Hijab.

Tayyibah recently graduated from Coventry University and her work is displayed at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial, an exhibition which was selected by International Curators Forum (ICF) earlier this year. See New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial until 24 November 2019.

 

Our second artist spotlight is on the work of Tayyibah Mota, currently showing at The Row as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial.

Andreana Fatta, Ξεριζωμένη Γενιά / An Uprooted Generation, Copper pipes, Greek orthodox candle wax, archived objects and publication

Andreana Fatta’s project archives found objects in a creative manner. It follows the case of her grandmother, a Cypriot woman and a subject of displacement.

Throughout the process of archiving, the legal guidelines of the State Archives in Cyprus, presented in the publication that accompanies Andreana’s sculptural installation, have been followed. The “Historical Section Criteria” is a manifesto for Andreana’s creative practice, allowing her to make a space in which to raise awareness of the importance and functionality of an archive.

It is significant that the National State Archives of Cyprus were founded in 1972, two years before the country was invaded by Turkey. Archiving information that had the potential to be collected in this period of war turned out to be rather challenging. Many documents and other materials including artworks were lost.

Andreana is a graduate from Birmingham City University. Andreana is one of 20 recent graduates from the West Midlands’ six art schools exhibiting as part of the Biennial, selected by ICF International Curators Forum from an open call earlier this year.

Her work can be seen at The Muniment Room in St. Mary’s Guildhall, Coventry, in an exhibition that focuses on air and archive as part of New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial

 

In the first of our artist spotlights from New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial, we focus on the work of Andeana Fatta.

Now Showing 316: The week’s top exhibitions

a-n news select Coventry Biennial’s exhibition at Coventry Biennial, including work by New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial artist Amy Guo as one of their picks of the week – via a-n

Coventry Biennial 2019: The Twin

a-n news report back from the opening of Coventry Biennial: The Twin, including a focus on New Art West Midlands – via a-n

Coventry Biennial 2019: programme and exhibiting artists announced

The second edition of Coventry Biennial will be entitled ‘The Twin’ and feature a series of exhibitions, events and activities taking place at various locations across the city – via a-n news