© 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.

(Copyright Lottie Davies www.lottiedavies.com | www.whquinn.com)

Artist, photographer and writer Lottie Davies has recently opened a solo exhibition titled Quinn: A Journey at the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery in Coventry. Incorporating moving image, stills, text and a variety of objects, the display aims to offer an immersive insight into the fictional journey of William Henry Quinn, as he walks from Cornwall to the far north of Scotland in post-Second World War Britain. Anneka French finds out more.

(Copyright Lottie Davies www.lottiedavies.com | www.whquinn.com)

 

Could you introduce your work?

My work has evolved over the last twenty years. I learnt through assisting commercial and editorial photography work. My fine art practice evolved mid-way through that when I made a series of work called Memories and Nightmares which were staged, narrative, tableaux type pieces based on collecting memory stories. I use life experiences to make semi-fictional photographs. I like the idea of taking an individual’s experience and making it more universal or relevant to anybody and I like the idea that people might feel they have seen one of my pictures before or that something about it makes them think about their own memories or story.

Can you describe the origins of Quinn?

Quinn originally started because my gallerist at the time asked me to do an artist talk and I wanted to do something different. I thought I would do a performance. I called Samuel J Weir and asked him if he would be interested to do a one off performance and I wrote a short story monologue for him to perform. That was when the character of Quinn first arrived and wanted to do more with this. The story of his journey and why he’s walking have evolved throughout the 4 years of shooting. I’m self-taught so I’ve never really approached projects from the beginning with a firm idea of what the outcome would be. I enjoy that freedom of being able to develop the story as we went along, although I knew he was walking from Cornwall to the north west of Scotland early on.

Copyright Lottie Davies www.lottiedavies.com www.whquinn.com

 

Can you say more about the making of the project?

The whole project started 6 years ago but it took 4 years to shoot because I needed to wait for the seasons to change so that it is obvious time is moving, as well as working in between other projects and Sam’s commitments. It was bubbling along slowly as we went further up the country but things took longer because of the practicalities of travelling in more remote parts, which meant we would have to spend a week somewhere rather than just a couple of days. We finished shooting 2 years ago and the project has sat for a little while, something I always like to do if possible.

How has Quinn’s narrative developed?

The narrative has been the last bit. In the exhibition is a small notebook which is a diary in the form of letters to Quinn’s wife, notes and lists. It took a while for me to be comfortable with its format as originally there was going to be some oral history and various different ways of telling the story. Writing fiction is not something I am very experienced with so it took time to feel like it was alright. But it was really fun and it’s the newest area I’ve been exploring. I love words and really enjoy playing with them.

Copyright Lottie Davies www.lottiedavies.com www.whquinn.com

 

What can visitors expect within the exhibition’s rooms?

One of the rooms in the exhibition is an installation of a boarding house. The diary is there for people to pick up read by themselves but sections of it are displayed on the walls which is something totally different for me. The room has no photographs in it. I’ve been able to put all 4 of the different elements of the project into the exhibition. So there is moving image, stills of Quinn’s journey and I have been working with the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum’s historical collection. Quinn’s belongings which are genuinely from the period are displayed alongside items from the permanent collection. People are invited to interact with the boarding house room – to sit on the bed, open the drawers.

How do you think you might connect with audiences in terms of the contexts of the gallery and the city?

The project is set post-World War Two, which is a central experience to Coventry and to the cathedral next door.  Some of the Herbert’s collection objects on show are of this period – things that have been useful and may have changed in meaning or context over time. The show is meant to be more universal than this specific time and at the moment, people all over the world are walking and travelling to find a place to be, as many people were then. A large proportion of the global population is currently uprooted by economic circumstance, conflict, Corona Virus. Quinn’s journey is a metaphorical one for all of us. We all have a journey through our lives and take different directions, sometimes unexpectedly. I’m hoping that people will enjoy the real things on show that have had a life but also that they can relate to Quinn’s story.

Can you tell me more about the performance you have planned?

Samuel J Weir is going to read excerpts from Quinn’s diary at the cathedral and then we will come to the gallery for a conversation about the making of the work with the audience. I will be bringing along a work scrapbook. All the stills were shot on large format analogue film on a brass and rosewood camera so I might bring that along too. I think there is an interest in how things are made, in analogue photography and in real life objects that have had lives.

Copyright Lottie Davies www.lottiedavies.com www.whquinn.com


Quinn: A Journey
is curated by Dr Rachel Marsden and is on display at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum until 31 May 2020.

A performance and in conversation event takes place on 17 May, 1:45pm at Coventry Cathedral before moving to the gallery.

Artist, photographer and writer Lottie Davies has recently opened a solo exhibition titled Quinn: A Journey at the Herbert Museum and Art Gallery in Coventry. Anneka French finds out more.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-51462197?fbclid=IwAR3235GeiV8lxTc11Zmu4hlpVvmGo0MMgbsz5tdwGIKKXVwdKwqUDfEsEDk

Photographer Lottie Davies’s latest work documents a fictional journey across Britain, from the south-west of England to the far north of Scotland. Her exhibition, curated by Dr Rachel Marsden, is on display at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry – via BBC

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.

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

Image: Shiyi Li, ‘Minister of Loneliness’, 2018

New Art West Midlands invites you to the launch of No Limits, the visual arts strategy for the West Midlands, devised following consultation events across the region.

The launch will be followed by a very special performance by artist Shiyi Li of her percussion and live collage work ‘Minister of Loneliness’.

No Limits
Friday 15 November 2019
6 — 8pm

The Studio
The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
Coventry
FREE
Register for the event here.

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Additional support from Coventry Biennial, Birmingham City University, Coventry University, Hereford College of Arts, Staffordshire University, University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester, International Curators Forum, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum and The New Art Gallery Walsall.

 

(Image: Shiyi Li, Minister of Loneliness, 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).

New Art West Midlands invites you to the launch of No Limits, the visual arts strategy for the West Midlands, devised following consultation events across the region.

The launch will be followed by a very special performance by artist Shiyi Li of her percussion and live collage work ‘Minister of Loneliness’.

We are excited to announce the appointment of Sylvia Theuri as New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curator in Residence. Hosted by Culture Coventry at the city’s Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, the role will see Sylvia work with 6 artists from New Art West Midlands’ 2019 graduate cohort, across a year of bespoke professional development activity, leading up to an exhibition of new work by those artists at the Herbert Art Gallery in autumn 2020.

 

 

Sylvia’s post has been made possible through partnership with the Herbert Art Gallery and International Curators Forum, as part of a New Art West Midlands programme supporting new talent and perspectives funded by Arts Council England. The partnership with International Curators Forum brings access to international networks and contexts – part of a distinctive professional development package that aims to create pathways into future opportunities for Sylvia and for the artists involved.

 

Sylvia notes: “I am excited to have taken on the role of Curator in Residence and to be a part of shaping the developing arts and culture in the city of Coventry where I live and call home. It is of great importance that we foster the visibility of and engagement with the visual arts to new and varied audiences, by ensuring that visual art spaces are not seen as ‘uninhabitable spaces’ but rather as welcoming and comfortable”.

 

Talking about working with artists to support new work relating to Coventry, Sylvia says: “I am very much looking forward to working with a cohort of New Art West Midlands 2019 artists to help shape their professional development across the course of the next year towards a new exhibition in 2020”.

 

Craig Ashley, Director of New Art West Midlands, said: “We are delighted to announce Sylvia’s appointment and look forward to working with her over the next 12 months. She brings a distinctive approach and perspective, with ambitions to support and reflect the region’s very best talent.”

 

Notes for editors:

 

About Sylvia Theuri Dr Sylvia Theuri is an art educator, researcher and artist with comprehensive knowledge and experience in critical arts education theory and practice. Sylvia holds a PhD from the University of Salford, which focused on Black African students’ experiences of higher education art and design. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion issues in Art and Design education; Race, Identity and the African diaspora; Contemporary African Art and the Black Arts Movement. Recent publications include a book chapter; ‘Critical Race Theory and its Relationship to Art Education’ in Towards an Inclusive Arts Education.

 

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. We 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. We 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 our partners Coventry University, Hereford College of Arts, University of Wolverhampton and University of Worcester, as well as Staffordshire University.

 

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 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.’

 

 

 

Sylvia Theuri appointed as New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curator in Residence at Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery.

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.

Home for Waifs and Strays have announced a new open call in partnership with disability led arts organisation DASH and The Herbert Museum & Art Gallery in Coventry. Live Screen will produce a new platform for 4 artists who find it difficult to leave their homes because of a physical/mental impairment or disability.


The commissioned pieces will be live streamed from the artists’ homes and projected onto a large screen at the Herbert Museum & Art Gallery on 16 March 2018.

Each selected artist will receive mentoring from an individual who has experience working in the arts and with disabled artists. The mentors are consultant Mandy Fowler, artist Tanya Rabbe-Webber, artist and producer Ben Fredericks and New Art West Midlands Director Craig Ashley.

Each artist will also receive a fee of £1000 plus help towards accessibility costs and materials.

More detail on the project and application process can be found here.

Applications close at midnight on 10 December 2017.

Home for Waifs and Strays have just announced a new open call in partnership with disability led arts organisation DASH and The Herbert Museum & Art Gallery in Coventry.

Lucy McLauchlan, Birmingham Bt Pass showing at Centrala Art Gallery 8 July. Image credit Matt Watkins.

New Art West Midlands’ director Craig Ashley reflects on yesterday’s announcement from Arts Council England about investment to the region’s visual arts organisations through their National Portfolio for 2018-22.

Lucy McLauchlan, Birmingham By Pass showing at Centrala until 8 July. Image credit Matt Watkins.

Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2018-2022 will include thirteen West Midlands’ Visual Arts organisations, up from the current number of seven. This almost doubling of the visual arts contingent is great news for the region, and the sector is strengthened further through the inclusion of more organisations working under the categories of Museums and Combined Arts where there is increasing work in the widening realm of visual arts, and exploration of the innovative spaces between art forms.

With the exception of Birmingham’s The Drum, which closed last year due to a number of challenges and was consequently not in the running for this next round of funding, the current cohort of West Midlands-based National Portfolio Organisations working across Museums, Visual and Combined Arts remains unchanged and will continue to receive investment.

This is an active and positive endorsement of the great work being done in the region, and Arts Council’s decision provides a degree of certainty in uncertain times. Investment from other sources of income must continue to be a priority over the next four years, and the impact of this stabilising fund will allow the time to further develop and grow the opportunities for a wider and more diverse funding mix.

It is important of course that, within the context of some much needed good news for the arts, there is a balanced view. Where other areas of public funding for culture have been consistently cut in recent years, particularly the investment from our challenged local authorities, the National Portfolio money awarded through Arts Council demonstrates the absolute necessity of public money to secure and strengthen our creative output.

As recognised by the Creative Industries Federation, public money sits at the foundation of our £84b-a-year-and-growing creative industries sector, providing essential support at the start of careers and initiatives that go on to bring great success to Britain. Furthermore, anticipating the gap left by the withdrawal of EU funds beyond 2019 – subject of course to the ongoing Brexit negotiations – how do we shore-up and sustain future public investment in the arts? Arts Council England cannot do it alone, and a wider valuing of the arts in society must be a collective concern that we need to address together, within and beyond the visual arts.

The important and integral partnerships between our National Portfolio Organisations and others, both within and beyond the Creative Industries, will help to strengthen a platform for the visual arts over the coming years, and provide a firmer base to build upon for the future. From artists to arts organisations to educators and business, the benefit of the National Portfolio investment is channelled through the relatively few to the many.

So now is definitely a time to celebrate the achievement of those organisations and their supporters and partners that have strived to creative something crucial, critical and valuable. The National Portfolio status is something to be proud of, and an indicator of the valuable contribution organisations make as instigators, protectors, mediators, collaborators, risk-takers and trailblazers.

The inclusion of more organisations in the National Portfolio reflects the region’s growing confidence and the breadth of the work we do. Distinctively here in the West Midlands, the support for the smaller-scale, diverse, innovative and artist-led outfits bolsters the resilience of the visual arts ecology.

The collective strength of Birmingham’s Eastside organisations demonstrates the importance of working together to mutually support. Joining Eastside Projects in the National Portfolio are Centrala, Grand Union and Vivid Projects, all based in the Minerva Works complex in Digbeth, alongside Friction Arts at The Edge on Cheapside. This critical mass is a model that New Art West Midlands is keen to support elsewhere in the region, to ensure sustainability alongside critical success.

Our museums continue to get the support they desperately need and deserve, with Birmingham Museums Trust and The New Art Gallery Walsall receiving continued investment in the face of challenges with their respective local authority funding. Encouragingly, Wolverhampton Art Gallery receives an uplift from 2018 and they are joined in the National Portfolio by Culture Coventry (The Herbert Art Gallery) and Compton Verney, both of whom become regularly funded through Arts Council for the first time.

The region’s reputation for distinctive festivals shines through the Portfolio, with BE Festival and Fierce now joined by Flatpack, Shout, Capsule’s Supersonic Festival, and the Stoke on Trent-based British Ceramics Biennial. And in terms of innovation, BOM and Hereford-based Rural Media are supported to continue their leading roles in developing the territory within the scientific and digital realms. Wolverhampton’s Newhampton Arts Centre adds to the region’s complement of multi artform venues, widening the cultural offer in the Black Country.

These decisions demonstrate Art Council’s commitment to diversifying the National Portfolio, in terms of practice and geography as well as the protected characteristics including disability, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Among the existing National Portfolio, the Shropshire-based Disability Arts organisation DASH has received a significant uplift in their regular funding to expand their partnership work to commission disabled artists. DASH’s director Mike Layward commented:

“[This] is not only great news for the organisation as it secures our work across England for the next 4 years, but it’s also great news for the disabled artists we work with. The uplift will allow us to develop a new area of work with disabled children and young people who will be the disabled artists of tomorrow.”

New Art West Midlands’ director Craig Ashley reflects on yesterday’s announcement from Arts Council England about investment to the region’s visual arts organisations through their National Portfolio for 2018-22.