Coventry Peace Festival starts with fantastic event for lucky 24

If you were wandering through the City Arcade on Saturday evening you might have come across an unusual sight.

At the open end – near Argos – there was a long table, with people sitting it at it eating and talking. Music was being broadcast from City Arcadia (formerly the Coventry Blaze’s shop), and a bar was set up in there, courtesy of Inspire.

It was TABLE (their capitals), a project set up by Artspace who are curating the CIty Arcadia project until summer 2016, which is described as “exploring the past, present and imagined future of Coventry city centre”.

The event on Saturday was tied in with marking the beginning of Coventry Peace Festival, and bringing people together to eat, with the idea we’d talk about the future of community in Coventry city centre. The placemats also told us the location was due to be demolished and redeveloped in two years, which I didn’t know and which I wasn’t happy to hear about.
The actual table was designed by former Coventry University architecture student Yoana Krasteva, who I was lucky to end up sitting next to at the table, and enjoy a good conversation with.

Also nearby were Coventry council’s marketing chief Carl Bainbridge, the Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry Cathedral (who has some interesting ideas re the future of art at the cathedral), Ryan Hughes, an artist who helped build the table, and Thia, whose name I fear I’ve spelled wrong but who has ended up in Coventry after growing up in Indonesia and who described herself as a “story seller”, and intrigued me all night with her stories and ideas.

I’m not sure we stuck to the planned theme all night, but discussion certainly centred around Coventry and our thoughts on it. And the food – wow. It was served by Coventry University students and cooked by Cleopatras – a new Egyptian restaurant due to open in the City Arcade shortly. If the dips and pittas, lentil soup and fantastic okra stew with rice are anything to go by,  I’ll certainly be visiting them when they open.

We’d been advised to dress up warm, and with my four layers on top, scarf, jeans, thick socks and boots I managed not to need the blankets we’d been provided with. But by the time it was time to leave our unusual eating place, by now with leaves swirling round us, I was full and excited after an evening of good food and even better conversation.

I’d been sceptical about the whole idea but it was a lot of fun. The TABLE apparently returns for another meal at the end of the Peace Festival and then moves on to Fargo – I hope its other events are as successful.

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