Coventry events

Arty-Folks stage Tibetan influenced exhibition


Art inspired by colourful mandalas made by Tibetan monks is on show at Coventry’s Central Library.

The drawings and glass paintings were made by members of Arty-Folks, a group for people recovering from mental health problems.

Art tutor Lorella Medici said the works describe how the person feels about themselves in relation to the world around them through patterns, mark making, textures and colour. The works have been inspired by the mandala, which in Sanskrit means circle. Mandalas are spiritual and ritual symbols in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe.

Lorella said: “Our minds are always busy seeking solutions for our many problems.  Making these mandalas has helped people to concentrate on creating beautiful and meaningful artwork, and to give their minds a rest.

“Tibetan monks create intricate mandalas as an aid to meditation and to help stabilize and re-order inner life.  Arty-Folks uses the visual arts in a similar way to help people on their recovery journey. ”

Jean who is one of the people exhibiting says: “I used to believe that art is just for people who are very creative, imaginative or skilled. I started coming to Arty-Folks after I lost my mum and it motivated me to get out the house at least once a week.

“I never saw myself as an arty person but I just got totally caught up with all the different things Arty-Folks introduces me to.  Now I enjoy art because it helps me to communicate and to connect to others, and I have fun experimenting.”

The display includes as step-by-step instruction on how to create your own mandala art.

Arty-Folks meets from 12.30-2.30pm on Wednesdays at the Artspace Studios, 15 Lower Holyhead Road, Coventry. Anyone interested can pop in on a Wednesday, or call 024 7641 4740 for more information. The exhibition at the library is on until November 16.

Also see and Arty-Folks on facebook and twitter.

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.

Private View II is fresh start for art blog

Welcome to Private View II !

All the articles on this blog from December 2010 to July 2014 have previously appeared on a Private View blog on Trinity Mirror’s Coventry Telegraph website. Trinity Mirror scrapped all their blogs and the copy, so it’s no longer available there – but can all be seen at this new site.

All the articles after July 2014 are new, and will be added to as I get to attend more fun exhibition openings, interview more artists, discover great places for days out and review books.

Julie Chamberlain, August 2014

Coventry University final year students’ work on show

Coventry University’s art and design final year students are holding their end-of-course shows across campus this week, with the chance for all to see what they’ve been working on.
The show opening is usually one of my Coventry are highlights of the year, but this year it felt quieter than usual, and the more muted tone – in the basement and top floor anyway – seemed to match the show.


Jeremy Deller exhibition at Mead focuses on industrial and musical past to raise valid questions

It’s been D-day in Coventry- Jeremy Deller day. All That is Solid Melts Into Air is the title of the touring exhibition he has curated which is now showing at the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre, at the University of Warwick in Coventry.
On the opening day Deller was in Coventry to take part in an In Conversation with Mead curator Sarah Shalgosky held at The Herbert in Coventry and then there was the exhibition opening party at the Mead. I caught up with Deller in the morning as the final touches were put to the exhibition – including fixing the jukebox which takes central position in one room.

adrian street and his father 1973 photo dennis huthinson (c) dennis h    (2)Adrian Street and his father1973 photo Denis Huthinson (c) Denis Huthinson
The exhibition is described as “Jeremy Deller takes a personal look at the impact of the Industrial Revolution on British popular culture, and its persisting influence on our lives today”.
He told me that wasn’t what he had set out to do: “Originally it was to be a show much more about music culture and industry but when I started looking at the industrial revolution it became fascinating to me and I became more and more interested in it and the effect it had on people and urbanization and the show became less about music and more about the social and cultural aspect.”


Thanks for the memories – the year in art in Coventry and Warwickshire

So, time to raise a Private View glass of probably-questionable wine to the last days of 2013, and look back at another year.
To those who complain about Coventry in particular being a cultural desert it’s worth pointing out again that I’ve filled 52 weeks’ worth of columns with reviews of art exhibitions, plus short bits about art-related activities, and longer pieces and interviews on this blog. Yes, not all the exhibitions may have been world class but there’s a lot going on around here and new quality artists keep emerging.
One of the best bits about doing the column is going to many of the private views, or opening nights, and also experiencing some other whacky one-offs.


Bark and Butterflies installation plays star role in Coventry Peace Festival

An installation telling a story of suffering and survival in Siberia is a fascinating piece of work, and a great part of this year’s Coventry Peace Festival.
As a child, if he didn’t eat his dinner Adrian Palka used to be told off by his father angrily saying that when he was young he’d had to survive on just bark and butterflies.
Many years later, Coventry University lecturer and artist Palka traced the terrifying route of his father and grandfather’s exile to Siberia and found himself in the hot summer surrounded by the swarms of butterflies his dad had talked about. The result is Bark and Butterflies, an audio visual installation on show in the foyer of Coventry University’s Alan Berry Building (opposite the cathedral steps) until Friday evening, and very much worth a visit.


Coventry visit inspires new work for abstract artist – called Coventry

An artist from Yorkshire who has recently been exhibiting in a group show in Coventry was so inspired by his visit to the opening that he returned home and created a new work – entitled Coventry.
Terry Greene was one of 13 artists whose work went on show in Without an Edge There is No Middle at the Pluspace Gallery in the Meter Room studios above Corporation Street in the city centre, which should have still been on but has unfortunately close early.
He came to the city for the exhibition opening at the start of August, and had a wander around, tweeting images during the day.


Coventry University art degree show is the annual must-see

It’s that time of year again – spot the art stars of the future out of the talent on show at Coventry University’s end-of-year art degree show.
The opening night on Friday was the usual hot and crowded tour around many floors, bumping into friends old and new, while making sure to grab a plastic cup of wine on the way.


Missing Naiad is ‘locked away’ reveals Coventry sculptor George Wagstaffe

The mystery of the missing Naiad has been partly solved, but it’s not a happy ending.
For years the sculpture of a the dreamy nymph sat in the pool in Priory Square in Coventry city centre, but after suffering vandalism and the removal of the water, which exposed the fact she has no lower limbs, she was moved to Lady Herbert’s garden.
Recently, the Roots gallery in Priory Square showed an exhibition including work by artist Caroline James – which Naiad artist George Wagstaffe visited and enjoyed – which focused on the square. At the opening Caroline lamented what it had become since her childhood memories of it. One of her photographs was of the pool, now lacking water and its Naiad, and she wondered where it was now.
Speaking at the opening of the new Ragley Gallery and Studios at Ragley Hall, where he is showing two sculptures and a painting in the inaugural exhibition, George Wagstaffe said: “The council have got her locked away somewhere.