https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2020/11/best-of-the-world-2021-culture

Coventry 2021 listed as one of the ‘Best of the World’ unmissable cultural experiences for 2021 and beyond – via National Geographic.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/oct/28/thirteen-ways-of-looking-review-cultural-identity-herbert-art-gallery-coventry

Kadish Morris reviews Thirteen Ways of Looking, currently on at The Herbert – via The Guardian.

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.

https://coventrycreates.co.uk

Coventry Creates – A digital exhibition of artworks created during lockdown inspired by university research. Part of ongoing work by Coventry University and The University of Warwick in the lead up to Coventry City of Culture 2021.

© 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.

https://www.leadwithadvantage.com

We are delighted to be partnering on the AD:Vantage Leadership Programme, a development opportunity for Coventry-based d/Deaf, disabled or neurodivergent people who work in arts, culture or heritage. Deadline: 12 noon, Monday 17 August 2020.

Coventry City of Culture to commence year-long programme in May 2021

Coventry City of Culture Trust has announced that it will officially commence its programme in May 2021. Co-created with national and local partners, and grassroots organisations across the city, the programme will include major international artistic events, world premieres and commissions across theatre, music, dance, literature, comedy and visual art.

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://artsandculture.google.com/exhibit/wonder-where-reality-and-imaginary-collide/oQICoAQCKmz0JA

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum recent exhibition WONDER has launched on Google Arts two months after the exhibition closed.

Coventry City of Culture secures £450,000 for leadership programme

Coventry City of Culture have been awarded funding from Arts Council England to deliver a new leadership training programme for the city.
The Transforming Leadership programme will train a diverse cohort of 15 established, independent and emerging cultural leaders.

Artist Helen Kilby-Nelson discusses her research interests and working methodologies ahead of her exhibition at Coventry’s City Arcadia gallery at the end of August.

 

 

 

How has the residency at Coventry Art Space shaped your work?

 

My initial proposal for the residency included researching socially engaged art practice alongside developing how my own practice might fit under this umbrella term. As a social housing tenant I founded an action group in my local community in May 2018 and I have wrestled with whether this was something separate from my practice or a part of it. If it is a part of my practice how do I ensure an ethical and transparent relationship with fellow members? The time and support from Artspace trustees helped me to work through these questions and I have found that these two parts of me now sit comfortably with each other and with members of the action group. I finally gave myself permission to allow the socially engaged aspect of my work to grow organically without feeling the need to have a prescribed or time sensitive outcome.

 

The residency has allowed me to further develop my research-based practice which has manifested in a body of work that responds to stigma based on social housing. These two elements of my practice currently synthesise and weave in and out of each other in a non forced way. The residency has therefore helped shape my practice to incorporate various methods of working. I see my practice as multi-dimensional in terms of approach, process and outcome as I move forward.

 

 

What can visitors expect from the exhibition at City Arcadia?

 

The exhibition includes film, projected moving image, sculpture and text. The combined works are a layering of different forms of language, representing misinformation, learned behaviour, lived experience and the perpetuation of stigma both external and internal. The work focuses on cause, dissemination and effect.

 

As part of the exhibition I will also be running a workshop on Saturday 31 August, ‘re-imagining Monopoly’, as a creative tool  to address the challenges faced for marginalised groups within a hierarchical society.

 

 

Can you tell me more about the title of the exhibition?

 

A word, an insult I have come across through talking with other social housing tenants and one which I have been called myself is “leech”. There are so many assumptions wrapped up in this single word. Yet the leech is an incredible creature, some of the fascinating facts I discovered are that a leech can adapt to almost any environment, it is gender fluid and that it has 32 brains. It felt appropriate to take this negative imagery and subvert it as well as use a potent, visceral word that hints at supposed intelligent collective behaviours and instigators.

 

 

Can you tell me a bit more about your approach to the timely subject of social housing and its myriad political, economic and social associations?

 

I chose to approach this subject through an autoethnographic process, having been a social housing resident for over twenty years, feeling angry about poverty porn, misinformation about social housing tenants, the loss of autonomy and reduced life chances. Using my own experiences as a base from which to research other artists and collectives who have tackled issues around social housing and open dialogue with others, including housing providers, researchers, community workers, other social housing residents and the wider public. The hardest part has been unpicking the political, economic and social associations and how these all merge. There are elements of all three in the work but the main focus has been stigma and how that is created and the power it has.

 

 

How do you conduct your research and how are your works made manifest?

 

My research is rhizomatic including everyday observations, interactions, feelings and thoughts, conversations with friends and peers, philosophy, critical texts, art-works and artist links. My practice responds through writing and making throughout the process. I make multiple works in different media and the process can appear chaotic, however it creates a visual and written ongoing critical dialogue of itself. These instant responses to external interventions and internal thought processes maintain a state of flux, a constant questioning and production towards more resolved pieces of work.

 

 

What will you be working on next and how does this support longer term ambitions for your practice?

 

My practice will continue to question, respond to and act on issues within society that marginalise, dehumanise and perpetuate inequality and the cause and effect of these hierarchies, language and inequalities within society and on identity and life opportunities. My work in response to social housing doesn’t finish with this exhibition and I will continue to collaborate with fellow tenants in my local area to shift the balance of power. I am also planning a further period of self-guided research into hierarchies, cause and effect.

 

I have already begun working on an exciting project as part of my professional development with Black Hole Club at Vivid Projects that continues to experiment with language, this time through sound and methods of input.

 

Myself and artist Adam Neal, who has also been undertaking an Artspace graduate residency and is showing at City Arcadia, are working together on a ‘Graduate Toolkit’ which will add another dynamic to both our practices, as well as planning other collaborative projects.

 

 

29 August – 7 September 2019
Arcadia Gallery
Coventry

 

Artist Helen Kilby-Nelson discusses her research interests and working methodologies ahead of her exhibition at Coventry’s City Arcadia gallery at the end of August.

Artist Adam Neal speaks about his autobiographical body of work exploring social class ahead of his exhibition ‘In Loving Memory Of’, opening at Coventry’s City Arcadia later this month.

 

 

How has the residency at Coventry Artspace shaped your work since you completed your BA at Birmingham City University?

 

After the completion of my Fine Art BA at Birmingham City University I was thrown into the mire of what real life art practice might look like. The residency with Coventry Artspace has aided in that adjustment and has given me a framework to work within that has directed the trajectory of my practice. The nature of my practice hasn’t changed greatly, however it has become more reflective, biographical and intimate. I’ve placed my own class construction and role as an artist under a microscopic lens within my practice, perhaps in an attempt to forge some form of identity and perhaps to continue this inquiry within social class. In terms of my process, my practice has become increasingly concerned with photography and its processes. This may have stemmed from time and financial constraints; nonetheless it has led me to an interesting point in my practice where I am now questioning the relevance and application of photography within issues of social-class representation and translation. The freedom of the Artspace residency has allowed me to shift my practice slightly, generate personal work that concisely comments on a myriad of social-class issues.

 

 

What can visitors expect from the exhibition at City Arcadia?

 

‘In Loving Memory Of’ will provide an insight into a fading way of life, that of the traditional working-class, whilst beginning to highlight how that exists amongst contemporary societal shifts. The exhibition will consist of photography, film and objects in order to create a form of amalgamated comment on the issues at hand. I anticipate the exhibition to be visually jarring to some degree, so that it mirrors the eclectic interior of my Nan’s house. Equally, I’m trying to mask or underplay the larger thematic at hand with somewhat playful visuals and display mechanisms, in the hope that everything attempted to be conveyed is done so in a palatable manner. I’m conscious of not wanting to become too preachy or patronising with this subject matter, so I’m actively trying to avoid this. Equally, a key attribute of working-class culture is its ability to use satire and self-deprecate to a certain extent so I do want this to be evident within the exhibition.

 

 

Your statement describes your approach as ‘generat[ing] work about the social, from within it.’ Can you unpick this a little?

 

This stemmed from an initial acknowledgement of my position as an artist, and also being cemented within a traditional working-class community. During my final year on my BA I wrote this statement because I was working part-time within a local social club and managing a local children’s football team therefore I was an active member of the community I was producing work about. I do not work in a social club anymore, however I do still manage the football team so I am still an active member of the community. Operating as an artist and producing work about this community placed me in a precarious area in terms of my identity and also conjured ethical implications. I deem this to have defined my approach, as I have never sought to document people directly, only objects and locations that talks for and about people. I’ve been constantly torn between two very contrasting worlds, the art world and the traditional working class environment I have been raised within, and I’ve been attempting to ameliorate the chasm between them. Although I’ve realise that at this point amelioration is some way off, and it’s more pertinent to acknowledge and comprehend first.

 

Do you feel that the body of work is a portrait of your family and/or yourself? Or is it more about a cultural and social moment in time?

 

Currently I do feel like the work is more of an autobiographical reflection and a translation on the issues I’m investigating. At this point in my practice I deem that to be an appropriate perspective to take on the subject, as my area of investigation stems from my relationships, environment and experiences. Therefore being able to fully understand how my perspective on social-class has been constructed underpins this current body of work and any future development. Additionally, presenting a more intimate and personal translation on the issues has the potential to the viewer to project their own relationships, perspectives and experiences onto the work. Although I’ve acknowledged the work is autobiographical, I do believe there can be wider cultural and social issues extracted from it, as it unpicks issues surrounding national identity and social mobility in small doses. The work needed to be personal in order for me to produce it in a concise and coherent way, however this body of work is only a departure point for work of this ilk and within this area of investigation.

 

 What are you working on next and what are your longer-term goals for your work?

 

Saturday 17 August, sees John Hammersley (artist and chair of Coventry Artspace) and myself engage in an ‘In Conversation With’ event, at Arcadia, Coventry. This will be a conversation that challenges social class construction and its placement within a creative context. Whilst Saturday 7 September will see Helen Kilby Nelson and myself run an open workshop titled ‘What do Artists do all Day?’ where we will be discussing the transition between graduate artist to practising artist and how you bridge that gap.

 

Once my exhibition and residency finishes with Coventry Artspace I will be undertaking a Graduate Residency with Grand Union in Birmingham, I will be starting a Film and Photography MA at the University of Derby in September and producing new work for an exhibition with Ort Gallery early next year. Crucially, as a result of the residency Helen Kilby Nelson and myself have started working collaboratively and have devised what we deem to be a crucial project around graduate artists and residency programming, and we believe this project proposal has real impetus.

 

Longer-term I want to continue the investigation into social class and its placement within a creative context, and to be able to draw on public issues within my practice. Currently my work is heavily autobiographical and I have been questioning how far this goes to making comments on the wider, more public issues. I am undertaking this MA on a part-time basis, so that I can maintain a practice outside of this and also bridge the gap between academia and the ‘real-world’, in a hope that this will allow me to produce work that creates more considered social statements that reverberate outside of my own social sphere and understanding.

 

‘In Loving Memory Of’
Arcadia, Coventry
Opening: 15 August 6pm – 8pm
Continues: 16 – 24 August 2pm – 6pm Daily (except Sundays)

https://adam-neal.tumblr.com/

Artist Adam Neal speaks about his autobiographical body of work exploring social class ahead of his exhibition ‘In Loving Memory Of’, opening at Coventry’s City Arcadia later this month.

Farwa Moledina, ‘Interwoven’, 2018, Ways of Belonging, Ort Gallery at Midlands Art Centre

We are excited to announce the New Art West Midlands 2019 artists, selected by International Curators Forum:

Betsy Bradley, Hira Butt, Sarah Byrne, Gemma Costin, Anna Katarzyna Domejko, Andreana Fatta, Matt Gale, Amy Guo, Ewan Johnston, Navi Kaur, Shiyi Li, Mengxia Liu, Farwa Moledina, Tayyibah Mota, Laura Onions, Ameera Sadiq, Matías Serra Delmar, Rosie Piercy, Georgia Tucker and Lily Wales.

Farwa Moledina, ‘Interwoven’, 2018, Ways of Belonging, Ort Gallery at Midlands Art Centre 

  • New Art West Midlands returns for 2019 with a new cohort of 20 artists, recent graduates from the region’s art schools and creative Higher Education courses.
  • In collaboration with Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, a new exhibition model introduces artists in arts venues and historic sites across Coventry.
  • Selected by International Curators Forum, a new programme supports creative practice development for the region’s brightest new talent.
  • New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art runs 4 October – 24 November 2019

This autumn New Art West Midlands returns with a new model, working in collaboration with Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art to introduce an exciting group of artists across the city.  From traditional arts venues to unexpected spaces and public places, the exhibition aims to reach new audiences and show the value of creativity as Coventry moves closer to its tenure as UK City of Culture in 2021.

Selected by International Curators Forum, the artists are recent graduates from the West Midlands’ art schools and creative Higher Education programmes. The region has a rich offer and heritage when it comes to art education; New Art West Midlands is a partnership with the leading institutions to celebrate the talented individuals emerging from undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes.

Applications were received from over one hundred artists, representing recent graduates from Birmingham City University, Coventry University, University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester, Staffordshire University and Hereford College of Arts.

The selection panel included a delegation from International Curators Forum, including Adelaide Bannerman, Cindy Sissokho and Jessica Taylor alongside Ryan Hughes, the founder and director of Coventry Biennial. International Curators Forum’s highly acclaimed Diaspora Pavilion featured as part of the Venice Biennale in 2017, and has informed the direction of New Art West Midlands 2019 as a professional development programme.

In addition to participation in Coventry Biennial, a smaller cohort from these 20 artists will be selected to work with an appointed curator on a yearlong professional development programme. This intensive period will support practice-based skills toward the development of new work for a further curated exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery (Culture Coventry) in autumn 2020. Speaking about the selection and quality of submissions, Jessica Taylor commented: “International Curators Forum is thrilled to be partnering with New Art West Midlands, Coventry Biennial and Herbert Art Gallery on this important opportunity to support a cohort of recently-graduated emerging artists and a curator from the West Midlands.

“We are excited that the Diaspora Pavilion model has influenced the development of this programme, which champions diversity and the professional development of emerging practitioners in the region. The connections made and exposure gained by the 20 selected artists as a result of their inclusion in this Biennial stands to be of great importance during this moment of transition in their careers, and we look forward to working closely with some of the artists as they continue on in the programme alongside a selected curator in 2020.”

Highlights include new large-scale installations, sculpture, photography, video, paintings, drawings and digital artworks, exploring themes of cultural identity, technologies and the environment among others. Sarah Byrne’s (University of Wolverhampton) work reflects on experiences growing up in England as British girl with an Asian mother. Her projections use imagery from her mother’s old photo albums of childhood trips to the Philippines to question the events and exchanges that have contributed to a separation in her two national identities.

“I am a renegade botanist” declares Gemma Costin (Hereford College of Arts). Her travelling seedpod is a repurposed caravan that used to be called home, now transformed into a space to interrogate ideas of nature and biophilia.

Amy Guo (Staffordshire University) investigates the relationship between human and digital technologies. Works consider the ways in which our social interactions with others are mediated through technology and the visibility of our digital selves.

Farwa Moledina’s (Birmingham City University) series of prints on paper and textile are concerned with re-appropriating and reclaiming Orientalist imagery of Muslim Women. In today’s postcolonial, globalised world, refugees, immigrants and persons of dual culture often find themselves caught between tradition, integration and redefinition of their complex identities.

Through film, photography and mixed media, Tayyibah Mota (Coventry University) considers the Hijab. Her work seeks to display the tradition within and opposition to this Muslim practice, whilst sharing personal experiences of some of the British Muslim women who wear them.

Rosie Piercy (University of Worcester) deals with the very current issue of tuition fees and the cost of education in Britain. Her sculpture ‘Forever in Debt’ consists of helium filled balloons highlighting the exact balance of her student loan as they slowly deflate.

Ryan Hughes, director of Coventry Biennial, commented: “We are really delighted by the work we have selected and are looking forward to bringing it to Coventry to share with audiences. The professional development focus of New Art West Midlands aligns strongly with our vision for a social and critically engaged biennial for the region. The unique and inclusive new model they have built will create deeply meaningful opportunities for these artists in the West Midlands and beyond.”

Now in its seventh year, the New Art West Midlands exhibition programme is established as an important aid in developing the careers of artists. With 200 artists involved since 2013, previous exhibitors have seen their work purchased for the national Arts Council Collection and have gone on to achieve solo exhibitions in respected galleries.

New Art West Midlands 2019

Various venues across Coventry, 4 October – 24 November 2019.

 www.newartwestmidlands.co.uk

 

 

Notes for editors:

The New Art West Midlands 2019 exhibition is supported by Arts Council England, Birmingham City University, Coventry University, University of Worcester, University of Wolverhampton, Hereford College of the Arts and Staffordshire University, developed in partnership with Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, Culture Coventry and International Curators’ Forum.

 

Partners New Art West Midlands 2019:

About Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art:

Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art brings critically engaged, high quality contemporary visual art to the city and surrounding area. Celebrating and promoting contemporary art and artists, the festival is equally rooted in the city of Coventry, its history and its future. The first Biennial took place 6 – 22 October 2017 in venues across the city, the centre-piece being the sprawling CET Building, now under redevelopment. 2019 is the Biennial’s second iteration, with the third taking place in 2021 as part of Coventry’s UK City of Culture year.

About International Curators Forum: 

International Curators Forum develops and offers professional development opportunities for artists and curators, which include curating exhibitions and events that address diasporic culture in a global context; connecting professionals around the world through organised international networking trips and residencies. Past projects include the 2016-2017 international knowledge-sharing platform ‘Curating the International Diaspora,’ and the 2016-2018 professional development programmes ‘Diaspora Pavilion’ and ‘Beyond the Frame.’

About Culture Coventry:
Culture Coventry
is the trust that manages three of Coventry’s finest visitor attractions: Coventry Transport Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of British road transport, including the two fastest cars in the world; the award-winning Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, which celebrates the city’s culture, history and arts; and the Lunt Roman Fort, a fully excavated and partially reconstructed turf and timber fort, including the only gyrus in the Roman Empire. Between them, the attractions proudly tell stories of Coventry’s unique history to over 800,000 visitors per year from around the world.

  About New Art West Midlands:
New Art West Midlands is the contemporary visual arts network for the region. The network plays a leading role in bringing people together to support, promote and develop the region’s contemporary visual arts sector, both within the region and at a national level. They create defining opportunities for artists and arts professionals to develop their practices through a distinctive, critically-engaged programme, including the New Art West Midlands exhibition for recent graduates, and Engine, a region-wide professional development programme for artists and curators. New Art West Midlands is part of the national Contemporary Visual Arts Network. They are supported by Arts Council England and the lead partners are Birmingham City University and The New Art Gallery Walsall. Further support is provided by their partners Coventry University, Hereford College of Arts, University of Wolverhampton and University of Worcester, as well as Staffordshire University.

We are excited to announce the New Art West Midlands 2019 artists, selected by International Curators Forum:

Betsy Bradley, Hira Butt, Sarah Byrne, Gemma Costin, Anna Katarzyna Domejko, Andreana Fatta, Matt Gale, Amy Guo, Ewan Johnston, Navi Kaur, Shiyi Li, Mengxia Liu, Farwa Moledina, Tayyibah Mota, Laura Onions, Ameera Sadiq, Matías Serra Delmar, Rosie Piercy, Georgia Tucker and Lily Wales.

Edie Jo Murray, Perpetuation (2019), CGI Animation, Image © the artist

Opening at the Herbert Art Gallery this evening, Wonder features new commissions and existing work by artists based predominantly in the West Midlands. The exhibition is rooted in a sense of play and interactivity by way of site-specific painting, animation, light installation and collections-inspired augmented reality works. We speak to invited curator Dr Rachel Marsden about the development of the exhibition.

 

Ben Javens, Helping Hand (2019), Ink on Paper, Image © the artist

 

Can you tell me more about the premise of Wonder?

I was bought in to curate the exhibition in January this year. The exhibition was originally developed from the idea of fairy tales and the fact that the Herbert usually has a family-friendly summer exhibition targeted at early years. This was the first consideration as part of the project’s development.

One of the reasons I wanted to speak to you about Wonder is the regional interest in the artists that have been selected. Could you tell me more about these selections?

Julia Snowdin had already been commissioned to make an installation called Light Pavilion which is a sensory light canopy largely for early years. Thinking about those who might have additional sensory needs and disabilities was a part of the show. The gallery had also had conversations with Ben Javens who is a local illustrator and a lot of his work looks at the idea of storytelling and folktales. Because both Julia and Ben are local, regional artists, for me that became another trigger to frame the exhibition in a way that honoured and supported emerging regional artists. Serendipitously, as it worked out, when I was thinking about the theme in a multi-age range context, translating to adults too, the artists I started to think about were already networked to each other without me realising. Antonio Roberts, who I’ve worked with previously, had worked with Edie Jo Murray who is very much an emerging digital practitioner. She’d been working with an organisation called Ludic Rooms in Coventry, who are also supporting the professional development of Julia.

We wanted a balance of analogue and digital – a sense of the physical/material in some works versus the digital/alternative realities in others. I bought in Lucy McLaughlan who creates large-scale public murals. These are quite abstract but always informed by the site and space she’s in. She’s taking imprints of Coventry for this project and both her and Ben knew each other too. The networked relationships have made this quite holistic in a sense – it feels a supportive environment. And also having the budget through which to support their practice appropriately is really key.

There are also more female than male artists represented here. This is important to me. Going beyond gender equity links to the recent Freelands Foundation report looking at that balance. It’s important to have that, and the breadth of the artists, at the back of your mind. Edie sees herself as neurodiverse and she is really happy to speak about her experiences through her practice with audiences. Another important point to highlight is the individuality of each artist but also that collective voice of what they can share together through the network which is the West Midlands itself.

Lucy McLauchlan, Marrakesh (2016), Photo © Ian Cox

Are all the works new commissions?

The only artist who is not local is Davy & Kristin McGuire – Studio McGuire – who were originally included in Hull as part of City of Culture 2017. We wanted to bring them in as a link to Coventry’s City of Culture in 2021. They are pre-existing works which speak more to the adult audience in their diorama work using projection and shadow play. The rest of the works are actually all new commissions and it’s been brilliant to have the opportunity to do that and also to trust them with the ideas and themes we’ve provided to act as a starting point for new works.

I’m also interested to see where this process takes them beyond this exhibition, as part of a longer journey within their practice. For instance, for Edie, this opportunity has allowed her to collaborate with Secret Knock Zine – a free low-fi print zine specific to arts and culture across Coventry distributed across venues. Through this experience, she has also been taken on by Instagram beta testing, creating new face filters for trial. She’s created one for the exhibition which uses butterflies from the natural sciences collection. That future focus is important. Additionally, there are brilliant technicians at the gallery that have been able to honour the ambition of what the artists want to do, especially with Ben’s large installation.

Edie Jo Murray, Perpetuation (2019), CGI Animation, Image © the artist

Will there be a programme of events that will draw out some the concerns of the exhibition?

One of the key aspects has been the collaboration with Secret Knock Zine. For the third issue, they have been working with Edie quite closely, are showcasing all the artists’ works, I’ve written a text and they are also working with us for the launch party, running zine making workshops, thinking about how we share this content digitally, making limited edition prints – all activating the work in a different way. There’s a huge early years programme throughout the summer, a curator’s talk in July and we have Ludic Rooms coming to do a project called Wonder and Web which is looking at how we physically network space and how that happens online. Julia is doing a number of events because she really wants feedback on audience interaction with her Light Pavilion, to see how all age ranges respond. For her, this has been a pivotal opportunity to create something so large for public play/use.

What do you think you have learned from the experience of working on this project?

It’s been a fun opportunity to get involved in the West Midlands again and to see what everybody’s been doing and to be able to give that support to create new work. But also it highlights some of the socio-cultural priorities of the artists right now – what they’re interested in and what matters to them.

I was saying to somebody yesterday, it’s been 10 years since I curated my first proper exhibition. So to think about the artists’ priorities and the organisational priorities in that period – how the voice of the digital is so normal now – is considered in every part of the show, from the interpretation and marketing to the artists’ works themselves. It’s a language that you need to know and that we will need to know more and more. The show will be live streamed at the opening and half way through, there are a lot of pre-recorded interviews and further online content, social media of course and then there are Edie’s augmented reality works that explore the gallery’s collection. There are many layers of digital content that just didn’t exist 10 years ago. That’s been a real point of clarity for me – to see that shift.

Wonder is open to the public until 15 September 2019. A programme of events accompanies the exhibition. 

 

 

Wonder, an exhibition designed around play and interaction featuring new commissions from a number of West Midlands-based artists, opens this evening in Coventry. We catch up with its curator Dr Rachel Marsden to find out more.

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

Supported by New Art West Midlands, Coventry Artspace has been running the Art of Coventry programme throughout 2018 to develop and support artists and curators across the West Midlands.

The last events of the season are taking place over the next few weeks. Heavily subsidised, they have been designed specifically to respond to the interests and preoccupations described by participants at Artspace’s regular networking and drop-in sessions:

The Art of Curation Masterclass #4
Thursday 25 October 2018, 1-4pm.
Artspace Arcadia Gallery

Anna Douglas is an independent curator of exhibitions and projects responding to film, photography, sound, performance, architecture and everyday life.

This hands-on workshop explores the relationship between the curator and their audience; Does thinking about ‘your’ audience limit your own creative impulses and passions? What happens if we approach curating as a situated diaological and collaborative practice? How does it change things? What if you think of yourself as a participatory viewer?

Tickets: £15 (£8 concessions).

 

The Art of Curation Evening Talk #4
Thursday 25 October 2018, 6-7:30pm
Floor 11, Eaton House

Anna Douglas will provide illustrations from a range of recent curatorial projects, and will trace the evolution of her curatorial practice that experiments with an ‘action model‘ in which the curatorial ‘process’ is understood as self conscious, creative, situated, interpretive, social, moral and political at every stage – and in which curator and audiences alike are re-imagined as collaborators in making meaning.

Free (suggested donation of £3 welcome).

 

The Art of Installation #4
Sunday 28th October, Artspace Arcadia Gallery
10:30am-3pm

Led by Ryan Hughes, Director of Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art. Ahead of the ‘Older Women’ pop-up exhibition curated by Anna Douglas with Shared Space Collective, this course will look at hanging and packing art works. The workshop will involve looking at hanging heights, securing artwork to the wall and packing art works for storage or transportation.

£20 (£10 concessions).

 

Visiting artwork #4 – Pop Up Exhibition on Older Women, Shirley Baker.
Artspace Arcadia Gallery
2-10 November 2018, 1-3pm.

Inspired by and featuring photographs by Shirley Baker over a 60 years career, the theme of this pop-up exhibition is ‘older women’. Over the course of 3 days curator Anna Douglas will be working with artists of The Shared Collective in a collaborative experiment using the ‘photo-elicitation method’. The results of their work will exhibited at Artspace Arcadia Gallery.

 

The Art of Fear
The Tin Music and Arts
– 4 November 2018, 9:15am – 5pm.

Led by James Barrett, Warwickshire-based psychotherapist and co-founder of the West Midlands Training in Jungian Psychotherapy. This creative and experimental two-day workshop takes as its starting point the observation that art involves uncertainty and that apprehensiveness is inevitable at times. Artists can encounter fear at all stages of the artistic process and fear may also be brought on by external life factors, failed funding bids or competitions. Participants will be introduced to techniques of social dreaming and new ways of thinking about their relationship with life, creativity and fear.

£40 (£20 concessions)

More details on the artist and curator development programme can be found here.

Supported by New Art West Midlands, Coventry Artspace has been running the Art of Coventry programme throughout 2018 to develop and support artists and curators across the West Midlands. The last events of the season are taking place over the next few weeks and have been designed specifically to respond to the interests and preoccupations described by participants at Artspace’s regular networking and drop-in sessions.

The Art of Coventry is a programme of events organised by Coventry Artspace designed to support and develop West Midlands-based artists. The second season runs from August to November:

Michelle Englefield: Rentrayage
24 August – 6 September 2018. 10am-1.30pm Tuesday-Saturday.
Artspace Arcadia Gallery, 32 City Arcade, Coventry. CV1 3HW
Opening: Thursday 23 August 2018, 5.30-7.30pm
‘Rentrayage’ is a series of installations, each an interactive and thought-provoking obstacle. Michelle is a mother of four and a grandmother of three. She is also an emerging artist, graduating in Fine Art from Coventry University in 2017 and currently completing her MA in Contemporary Art Practice. She has made good use of the resources offered to her from the residency opportunity with Artspace, transforming her space into a wonderland of creations…But dig a little deeper into this fragile and delicate environment and you find yourself within a poignant exploration of trauma, the inspiration for which has come from Michelle’s own life story.

Panel Discussion – Art / Therapy / Value
Thursday 30 August 2018, 5.30-7pm. Floor 11, Eaton House, Coventry. Free
Accompanying Michelle Englefield’s exhibition ‘Rentrayage’ there will be a panel discussion on the subject of Art / Therapy / Value. The discussion will be chaired by John Hammersley Coventry Artspace Partnerships Trustee and Coventry University Lecturer. Panel members will include: Michelle Englefield, artist Anita Farrell, artist and pyschologist Representatives from Coventry Rape and Sexual Assault Centre (CRASAC). Refreshments will be provided.

The Art of Engagement
Wednesday 5, Thursday 6, Friday 7 September 2018, 10am – 4.30pm. Saturday 8 September 2018, 10am-1pm.
Koco Community Resource Centre 15 Arches Industrial Estate Coventry CV1 3JQ. £50/£30
This short, creative and practical course will look at making art outside of the gallery which intervenes in people’s lives. What baggage do we bring? Who is the audience? What permissions do we seek? Are we motivated by aesthetics? Improvement? Relationship? Novelty? What are the power dynamics and how can we navigate them openly? Participants will look at a range of approaches, consider where they place their own practice, and experiment with stages of making work ‘in situ’. Light-hearted and collaborative, the course is suitable for artists, producers and curators who have some experience of art-making with people in day-to-day situations (it doesn’t need to be a lot!). The particular context that we will be working in is The Spon Spun Festival 2018. Participants should bring along an engagement idea they would like to test and explore, e.g. at the Spon Spun Summer Saturday on 8 September or on the Spon Arts & Heritage Trail on Saturday 15 September.

The Art of Installation #3
Friday 14 September 2018, 10.30am-3pm
Oasis Community Hub & Cafe, Spon End, Coventry, CV1 3AE. £20/£10.
Ahead of Spon Spun Festival this course will look at Art Outdoors. The focus will be on installing artworks in outdoor, public and other ‘unusual’ spaces. This is a practical workshop so participants should come dressed appropriately for the weather and working environment. The session will start with an introduction to handling art and using tools.

The Art of Curation Evening Talk #3
Friday 21 September 2018, 6-7pm
Coventry Artspace, 1 Eaton Road, Floor 11, Coventry, CV1 2FJ. Pay what you feel.
Providing illustrations from a range of recent projects, cultural producer Sue Ball sets out to explore the solidarity economy or ‘the commons’ and its dynamic impact on the production of art and the making of place. Sue Ball will investigate three of her public projects that explore slow architecture and the time-based currencies that side step the apparent ‘need’ for new building based operations, a timely provocation as Coventry enters its 2021 build-up.

The Art of Curation Master Class #3
Saturday 22 September 2018, 10am-1pm.
Eaton House, Coventry. £15/£8
This masterclass will explore the ideas and approaches in the creation of the commons and solidarity economy. Investigated through UK and international case studies, the workshop will seek to contextualise this dynamic in the artistic and activist practices in Coventry by using participant-focused and facilitated methods to support dialogue and potential action. Course leader: Sue Ball.

The Art of Self Promotion
Thursday 4 October 2018, 10.30am-3pm.
Floor 4, Eaton House,Coventry. CV1 2FJ. £20/£10
This one day course will support artists to develop confidence and skills in promoting themselves on-line through social media and artist directories.

The Art of Curation Masterclass #4
Thursday 25 October 2018, 1-4pm.
Artspace Arcadia Gallery, 32 City Arcade, Coventry. CV1 3HW. £15/£8.
In this hands-on short workshop, in which participants will have an opportunity to work with images from the Shirley Baker collection, independent curator Anna Douglas will explore the relationship between the curator and their audience. How might this relationship be negotiated differently? Does thinking about ‘your’ audience limit your own creative impulses and passions? What happens if we approach curating as a situated diaological and collaborative practice? How does it change things? What if you think of yourself as a participatory viewer?

The Art of Curation Evening Talk #4
Thursday 25 October 2018, 6-7.30pm.
Floor 4, Eaton House,Coventry. CV1 2FJ. Free
Providing illustrations from a range of recent curatorial projects, independent curator Anna Douglas will trace the evolution of her curatorial practice that experiments with an ‘action model‘ in which the curatorial ‘process’ is understood as self conscious, creative, situated, interpretive, social, moral and political at every stage – and in which curator and audiences alike are re-imagined as collaborators in making meaning. Her presentation addresses concepts and practices of ‘participation’ and ‘interpretation’ within a framework of ‘critical humanism’ – in which people are at the centre of everyday meaning making, and the integration of a critical approach to representation is acknowledged.

The Art of Installation #4
Sunday 28 October 2018, 10.30am-3pm.
Artspace Arcadia Gallery, 32 City Arcade, Coventry. CV1 3HW. £22/10
Ahead of the ‘Older Women’ pop-up exhibition curated by Anna Douglas with Shared Space Collective, this course will look at Hanging and Packing Art Works. The workshop will involve looking at hanging heights, securing artwork to the wall and packing art works for storage or transportation. This is a practical workshop so participants should come dressed appropriately for a working environment. The session will start with an introduction to handling art and using tools.

The Art of Fear
Saturday 3 November – Sunday 4 November 2018, 9.15am-5pm.
The Tin Music and Arts Saint Nicholas Street, Units 1-4, Canal Basin, Coventry. CV1 4LY. £40/£20.
This creative and experimental two day workshop takes as its starting point the observation that art involves uncertainty and that apprehensiveness is inevitable at times. Artists can encounter fear at all stages of the artistic process and fear may also be brought on by external life factors, failed funding bids or competitions. Participants will be introduced to techniques of social dreaming and new ways of thinking about their relationship with life, creativity and fear. They will learn more about their fears and what they mean and how to turn fear and uncertainty into creative and productive energy with which to realise creative ambitions.

 

The Art of Coventry programme is subsidised by Arts Council England and Coventry City Council and supported by Coventry University, New Art West Midlands and CET Pop Up.

The Art of Coventry is a programme of events organised by Coventry Artspace designed to support and develop West Midlands-based artists. The second season runs from August to October.

https://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/news/2018/07/new-director-of-warwick-arts-centre/

Doreen Foster has been announced as the next Director of Warwick Arts Centre. She is currently Deputy Director of the Black Cultural Archives and, before that, Chief Executive of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham.

The Art of Coventry is a programme of events organised by Coventry Artspace designed to support and develop West Midlands-based artists. The first season runs from May to July 2018 and includes talks, workshops and visiting art works.

Events include:

The Art of Installation # 1
Wednesday 23 May 2018, 10.30am-3.30pm.
£20/£10
This workshop will look at preparing a space for exhibition and will include an introduction to basic public facing health and safety and building and painting walls and gallery furniture. This session will start with an introduction to handling art and using tools. More information.

The Art of Curation Lecture # 1
Friday 25 May 2018, 11am-12pm
£10/ £5
A lecture from award-winning curator Sam Belinfante, who will provide an overview of his approach to the curation of art works in which the prominent feature is sound. More information.

The Art of Installation # 2
Tuesday 26 June 2018, 10:30am – 3pm
£20/£10
This workshop will focus on the intricacies of working with technologies including an introduction to ‘installing’ equipment, not art, and the impact that can have on the wider exhibition. This session will start with an introduction to handling art and using tools. More information.

The full programme can be found on the Coventry Artspace website.

The Art of Coventry programme has been subsidised by Arts Council England and Coventry City Council and supported by Coventry University, New Art West Midlands and CET Pop Up.

The Art of Coventry is a programme of events organised by Coventry Artspace designed to support and develop West Midlands-based artists. The first season runs from May to July 2018 and includes talks, workshops and visiting art works.

Director of Coventry Biennial of Contempoary Art Ryan Hughes talks to Ollie Noble, who in March exhibited works in the central piazza of University of Warwick, the first exhibition he has ever curated.

We have come to expect expertise in a subject to develop through intensive academic engagement. In the case of contemporary art, this expertise is usually shaped through substantial periods of time in art schools and art history departments. There are other ways of building and developing expertise, ways which lead to very different understandings of a subject and therefore the contexts within which it operates.

Ollie Noble, a fourth year Maths and Physics student at University of Warwick has developed a level of expertise and confidence around contemporary art, not through these ordinary academic routes but through frequently visiting exhibitions and festivals as an audience member. He likes contemporary art. He tells me he has “never actually studied art, I always remember being told that I wasn’t allowed to do it because I was so terrible at it”

Ollie describes being dragged to galleries as a child by his parents where he admits they would spend more time in the cafe than actually looking at the art work, but he also describes how this early experience made him comfortable in gallery surroundings. Later he started visiting commercial galleries in London by himself, eager to engage with contemporary art. He started talking to people during these visits and before long, met artist Neal Jones whilst visiting his show at Southard Reid. Neal encouraged Ollie to try, artists of course being all too aware that learning often happens through doing.

Fast forward to March 2018 and out in the cold opens on the central piazza of University of Warwick, this is the first exhibition Ollie has curated, with no formal experience, but he has managed to garner the support of Mead Gallery and has attracted the participation of high-profile international practitioners including Taus Makhacheva and Enrique Ramírez whose work he discovered whilst visiting the Venice Biennale in 2017.

The exhibition presents a showreel of moving image works which he explains aimed to “take art out of gallery spaces, and directly to the viewers. The aim was to show great art to people from all backgrounds, from regular gallery goers through to people who have absolutely no interest in art”

This mirrors Arts Council Englands aim of ‘great art for everyone’ but attempts to deliver that on a hyperlocal, independant scale, without their support. Why? Because Ollie understands, first hand, the value of looking at art. He explains that he was delighted at how approachable the artists were, he goes on that he “had assumed they would all ignore me, but I emailed them, and amazingly they replied saying they would love to be part of the exhibition. I had the opportunity to include five incredible artists – Fred Bungay, Taus Makhacheva, Enrique Ramirez, Tsubusa Kato and Nayoung Jeong. From the outset I had quite a good idea of what I wanted. With the exhibition being focused on encouraging a new audience to engage with art, I decided that first and foremost it was all about finding sharp contemporary art that had a critical eye and a clear story to tell. Especially in the university environment, I thought it was important that the exhibition showed art that could tackle modern issues head on”.

Ollie tells me what a huge learning curve that this process has been for him, and he speaks very highly of the university environment being a space which encourages this kind of cross-disiplinary, extra-curricula activity. When I ask if he will be curating exhibitions again, he says that he has a few ideas floating about – but echos a concern I’m hearing from artists and curators across the UK, access to space is a real issue.

That being said, Ollie wants to increase diversity in the arts, grow new events inspired by Tate Lates, Digbeth First Friday and London’s Art Night which increase engagement with a wide range of cultural activities and he will “just wait to see who I bump into and what opportunities come up”

Following this exchange Ollie agreed to undertake a short Curatorial Internship with Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art during which he will be working towards an exhibition and event at the end of Summer 2018.

out in the cold ran from 11-16 March 2018 in The University of Warwick’s central piazza.

Director of Coventry Biennial of Contempoary Art Ryan Hughes talks to Ollie Noble, who in March exhibited works in the central piazza of University of Warwick; the first exhibition he has ever curated.

Nicole Mortiboys, No Title. Photograph Gavin Rogers

 

It was an unusually pleasant summer’s day in July 2017 on which I first set foot inside the cool, cavernous interior of the former Coventry Evening Telegraph building. I was being shown around by Coventry Biennial director Ryan Hughes, as I had recently been selected for a New Art West Midlands Curatorial Bursary to work on the biennial and also because ‘The CET’, as it has affectionately become known, was to become the site of the biennial’s principal group exhibition. At that point, a not-inconsiderable feat of imagination was required to see how this could be so. The building had, in eight or more years, been used only for self-guided heritage tours that did not even nearly cover its entire footprint. There were whole floors without power and many rooms blanketed with the assorted detritus that is left behind by a down-sizing company which neither intends to return nor expects anybody else to. Deeper inside the building, the initial cool gave way to a chilly cold as that cavernous lobby, by turns, contracted to become claustrophobic office space and then expanded to become truly massive in the former print rooms. Those who visited the building during the biennial will know that what looks, from the street, to be a handsome, but fairly unprepossessing, mid-century office block becomes, upon exploration of its interior, a veritable warren of spaces encompassing the domestic, the commercial, and the industrial in a complex of connected buildings covering almost an entire city block.

 

Nicole Mortiboys, No Title. Photographer: Gavin Rogers

 

The Biennial’s theme, and the title of the exhibition in the CET building, was ‘The Future’. The irony does not escape me that, as I write, ‘The Future’ is now in the past. But any conception of the future is always inextricably bound up with the past from which it springs. The biennial’s exhibition at the CET always acknowledged its place in a historic building in Coventry and sought not to predict the future but to thread art through that historic building in a manner which united old and new for a vision of the possible futures which might await us all.

 

My principal concern and the focus of my work, however, lay in the question of quite how, even with around 60 artists planned to be shown, we were going to fill the almost endless available space. During my time with the biennial, I visited artists in their studios as far apart as rural Yorkshire and urban High Wycombe. I had the privilege of being invited generously into the practices and thought processes of many artists, having discussions that helped to evolve my understanding of how their numerous practices with varying starting points could be situated, within the exhibition, to invite each work into a lively discourse with the others and to generate a hearty artistic and intellectual feast for visitors.

 

Bermuda Collective, Alcoholism ’65. Photographer: Gavin Rogers

 

On the more pragmatic side of affairs, I supported volunteer recruitment events, worked closely on the design direction of the Biennial’s printed programme and led on the coordination of the VIP and Professional’s Preview Day. During the biennial itself, I led curator’s tours for members of the public, as well as colleagues in the arts sector. Part of the potential of any biennial lies in its ability to habituate itself to its host city, finding moments of encounter that grow out of, respond to and transform the spirit of the city. To this end, I used the curator’s tours as an opportunity to discover and discuss other people’s reactions to the exhibition and the artworks in it, as much as to share my own knowledge and opinions. The biennial was a truly collaborative, city-wide project and I was delighted to also be asked by biennial partners Scratch the Surface Festival to lead a conversation with the artists of their END//BEGIN-Dialogue exhibition, on the topic of how art making can intersect with, express and sometimes provide relief for artists with mental health issues.

 

We did, ultimately, fill the CET with art and, in my entirely biased opinion, we did so quite admirably. During my time with the biennial, I developed my project management, networking and research skills. I also gained a great deal more experience of working with artists at various stages in their careers. The experience has already led to my being given a place at artist Jamboree 2018 and I am now greatly looking forward to spending a summer’s weekend in the glorious Devon landscape surrounding Dartington College, which is of course very different from the urban landscape of Coventry that I spent a lot of time in during the course of the biennial. But, once again, I will have the privilege of sharing discussions and debates about the practices and processes, this time, of 150 fellow artists and curators. Whatever that may lead to, whether exhibitions or other forms of dissemination, I hope to experience again the genuine and enthusiastic public support that people from Coventry and beyond lent to the biennial. For after all, as my experiences with the biennial reaffirmed, art needs people just as much as people need art.

Engine Curatorial Bursary recipient Jonathon Harris reflects upon his experiences of working with last year’s Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art.

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/dec/07/coventry-named-uk-city-of-culture-2021

Coventry has been named the UK’s city of culture for 2021, giving it a one-off opportunity to boost the economy, tourism, civic pride and access to the arts – but also, its backers hope, a chance to be in the limelight and have some fun. Mark Brown reports for The Guardian.

'We Are Hull' by Zsolt Balogh - projections on Hull City Hall for the launch of Hull City of Culture 2017.

On Friday evening the shortlist for 2021 UK City of Culture was announced. Five out of the original list of eleven bidding cities were selected. In exciting news for the region, two West Midlands cities, Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent made the shortlist. Other contenders include Paisley, Sunderland and Swansea.

Laura McMillan, Manager of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said:

“We are delighted to be on the five-city shortlist, and that has made us even hungrier for the title in 2021. We know what a great year Coventry could put on, what a great impact it would make on all of our communities and the huge social, cultural and economic benefits it would bring. It’s estimated that tourism alone would be boosted by £80 million, but there is much more to winning than the economy; we want to see a step-change in culture, health and community cohesion across Coventry. The time is right for Coventry. We have the people in place, we have very strong local and regional support, and now it is up to us to create a compelling final bid and to show that we have the whole of the region behind us.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council Deputy Leader Abi Brown, Chair of the city’s bid said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted to be UK City of Culture in 2021 and will now be working hard to make our final bid the very best it can be. Winning would be the start of a legacy with far-reaching impact that benefits the whole city – it will bring more jobs, more visitors, more top quality cultural activity, boost skills and capacity and increase collaboration, pride and self-confidence across Stoke-on-Trent and beyond. We now need to build on what we’ve done so far to achieve a strong, ambitious final bid that shows the UK exactly what Stoke-on-Trent can do. We know that this is a unique, fantastic city and want to make sure everyone else knows it too.” 

On Friday evening the shortlist for 2021 UK City of Culture was announced. Five out of the original list of eleven bidding cities were selected. In exciting news for the region, two West Midlands cities, Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent made the shortlist.