Coventry lockdown arts project funded by universities goes live

A showcase of work by Coventry artists, funded by the city’s universities and produced during lockdown, will launch online next week (Monday 5 October).

The digital exhibition, Coventry Creates, will show the work of 18 local artists who worked in collaboration with researchers from Coventry University and the University of Warwick, as part of a commissioned project funded by the two institutions. The public will be able to view the works from 12 noon on Monday 5 October at coventrycreates.co.uk

The Coventry Creates project provided up to £2,000 of funding to the chosen artists who produced work in response to pieces of academic research, enabling them to continue their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 18 projects were selected from almost 100 applications and include a variety of art forms such as music, dance, spoken word, textiles, film and theatre.

During the summer the artists have enjoyed a period of collaboration with researchers from across the social sciences, arts, science and medicine from both the city’s universities and have produced final work for a digital exhibition, which launches to the public on Monday 5 October. After the exhibition the selected works will be kept in the Coventry City of Culture Digital Archive and a physical exhibition as part of Coventry City of Culture is being planned for 2021.

Professor Jackie Hodgson, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Warwick, said: “We are tremendously excited about the work these talented Coventry artists have produced under the strange and difficult circumstances the pandemic presented to us all.

“We are proud that the city of Coventry’s two academic institutions could help fund and bring to fruition these important works, in the run up to City of Culture 2021 and we are looking forward to the continued relationship between the two universities and aligning our efforts to conduct research that benefits local communities – through 2021 and beyond.

“We are thrilled to be launching this online exhibition of Coventry Creates. It is an innovative programme of work that, through the local creative sector, will bring research to fresh audiences in new and interesting ways.”

Peta Murphy, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Coventry University, said: “Coventry Creates is a unique opportunity to showcase digital artworks created during the pandemic. The collaborative approach from both universities as co-commissioners to the pairing of artists and researchers has resulted in extraordinary artworks which resonate with our current situation. The artists and researchers have really appreciated each other’s practice and found new ways of expressing research outcomes. It has been brilliant to be part of this project, the showcase is really inspiring!”

Dr. Miriam De Rosa from the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University and member of the University Partnership working group, said: “Coventry Creates digital exhibition is the quintessential outcome of a brilliant collaboration that unfolds at institutional as well as at community level. It is really wonderful to see Coventry University and the University of Warwick championing this selection of interesting and thought-provoking projects, and it is equally an important demonstration of how our researchers and the local artistic community can come together and create truly inspiring pieces.”

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust said: “During lockdown we have seen artists all over the nation creating new online events, engaging the nation through their computers, tablets and smartphones. As we build towards City of Culture it is great to see our two world beating universities supporting opportunities for creative collaboration between academics and artists, investing in new artistic commissions for digital distribution, that will explore a wide range of themes so important to our communities. I look forward to seeing the results of these partnerships and the understanding and action they inspire.”

The collaboration between Warwick and Coventry follows a new Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities that provides them with new opportunities to work together to the benefit of arts and culture throughout the region, in the run up to UK City of Culture 2021.

Professor Simon Swain, Vice-President for National and Regional Engagement at the University of Warwick, said: “The Coventry Creates funding is a great example of a new phase for both universities in Coventry working closely together to support the region. This new Memorandum of Understanding ensures that we will continue to collaborate together and share our distinct expertise to support the cultural, social, and economic and health and wellbeing targets of Coventry and Warwickshire.”

The full list of artists and projects exhibiting in the Coventry Creates digital showcase, along with details of their work, are:

  • Mary Courtney – Identity of creative individuals living in Coventry.
  • Gemma Foy – Twinning, the importance of internationalisation and peace and reconciliation
  • Emily Warner and Lucy Hutchinson – Research into ‘Care Companion’ – a resource for carers from WMS that supports family carers through digital access to info.
  • Frances Yeung – ‘Homeless Monopoly’ boardgame which is used as a tool for exploring issues around homelessness
  • Verity Pabla – Mapping women’s suffrage in Coventry
  • Paul O’Donnell – Building capacity of refugees through drama and language workshops – especially in the Covid-19 context
  • Stamp Theatre – Research around psychosis and mental health – portrayed through a drama production
  • Kieran Lucas – Working with ‘found sounds’ in Coventry Cathedral archive and interdisciplinary researchers in Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning to produce performance soundscapes
  • Lucie Felix – Exploring reading, books and the experience of using books
  • Highly Sprung – Making short films at home
  • China Plate Theatre – Audio recording exploring emotional impact on healthcare professionals during pandemic contrasted with the hero narrative
  • Theatre Absolute – Using projection of arts as a form of performance during lockdown
  • Marius Mates – Podcast on dance and architecture in Coventry
  • Laura Nyahuye-Maokwo – The artist and the professor, the mother and the wife: reflections on migration, resilience and hope in times of crisis.
  • Eddie Jo Murray – VR film to explore people’s emotions in public spaces and where crowds form.
  • Sherrie Edgar – A film capturing and sharing information through poetry, dance and music articulating a research report produced for the MHPP entitled ‘Employee well-being, mental health and productivity in Midlands firms: ‘The employer perspective. A baseline study for the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot’.
  • Jo Gane – exploring the flow, flora and fauna of the River Sherbourne just at the point in Spon End where it slips beneath the city of Coventry.
  • Siana Bangura – a commissioned work reflecting the ‘Great Pause’ caused by COVID-19 and the revolution triggered by the death of George Floyd.

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