Coventry University degree show features art and anguish

Coventry University’s annual degree show is a must-see event for anyone in the area who’s interested in what the next generation of up and coming artists are doing.
The opening night on Friday was as usual full of dressed-up students, their proud but often-confused parents and lots of visitors just keen to see what’s going on.
The opening night has never been the same since the students were stopped from serving up their own drinks to all passers-by, meaning you could traverse four floors with a plastic cup of wine never emptying.
However doing it sober probably means visitors notice more of the work. There was a trend this year, especially with the graphic design students, of having offerings of sweets along with their displays – though one display which featured more food carried a note along the lines of ‘please help yourself to sweets but don’t touch the cupcakes’!


Walls have wheels in Gallery 150

How do you rattle an artist? Well, I’m sure there are lots of ways, but I saw a good one in action at the latest private view at Gallery 150 in Leamington.
I was talking to painter Martin Johnson about his works (including Woodland Rendezvous, above) and he was explaining the concept behind them when one of the gallery walls started receding behind me.


Egypt keeps its secrets until another day

THE Herbert in Coventry is promoting its Secret Egypt: Unravelling Truth From Myth exhibition. But after the opening night tonight I’m afraid it’s still keeping its secrets from me.
The gallery opened up the first night to anyone who wanted to attend, and apparently more than 1,000 people packed in to see their dancers, and the exhibition.


Art events which stand out from 2010

It’s that time of year when it’s customary to look back as well as forward. In the newspaper column on Friday I looked at some of the highlights coming up this year, and now I’m mulling over what will stick in the memory from the local art world in 2010.
The Leamington Studio Artists set up their own exhibition space, Gallery150, in the town’s old library, and held some memorable exhibitions there, including Dominica Vaughan’s vibrant paintings. There was also the memorable first night of one exhibition which clashed with the meeting of a local history group, whose members resolutely sat there while I tiptoed round the edge taking notes, and the private view was called off. Gallery150 has now moved into new premises in the Regent Court Shopping Centre and ended the year with a show of excellent photographs of Paris by Florian Louineau.
Bill Zygmant also exhibited his 1960s photos at Gallery150, and seemed to be everywhere, even popping up at a 60s weekend at Compton Verney, but he has such great stories to tell it’s always a joy to bump into him.
The White Room in Leamington continued its mix of shows, but is still successfully promoting young artists, including Tom Lewis who is rewarding their support with national success. What I remember most from their private views is interviewing artists on the pavement outside as they take a smoking break….
Coventry’s The Lock moved to new, more-characterful premises at the end of the year and it will be good to see what shows energetic Emma O’Brien pulls in this year. Interviewing Angela Hallam there, who turned out to be the creator of Sky Blue Sam, has stuck in my mind from lastyear!
At The Herbert, the Street Art show was given a huge launch. The show personally left me cold, and the first night was chaotic. Inviting everyone to the opening may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the young drunk lads, carrying their own bag of cans and lighting roll-ups in the gallery, who I eventually saw getting thrown out, proved the need for a better door policy.
The Herbert’s David Rushton exhibition, Models and Metaphors, Concepts and Conceits, was an intelligent show which was a joy to visit more than once, and earlier in the year the Robert Longden canal life photographs was also stunning, and an Arts Council touring exhibition brought world-class names to the city.
The Mead at the University of Warwick continued its eclectic mix of exhibitions and Lindsay Seers’s works focusing on her missing sister stayed with me.
Rugby Art Gallery‘s continued to stage exciting exhibitions to bring new works to the town, including a show by Japanese and Norwegian artists, and one focusing on dance and film.
Leamington Spa Art Gallery showed works by former local photographer Harry Hammond which brought music icons to life. Compton Verney‘s Volcanoes exhibition showed how to make a success of a thematic show with works from several centuries.
There’s a load of exhibitions opening across the area in the next few weeks, so it will be interesting to see what we remember from 2011….

Welcome to Private View

This blog has been launched as a spin off from the art column which appears in the Coventry Telegraph’s What’s On guide on Fridays.
I’ve been writing the newspaper column for four years and it follows the format of a review of a new exhibition, listings and short bits about other exhibitions in the area, or events at galleries.
I’m often frustrated by having more things I want to write about than there’s space for – interviews with artists, pieces about excellent but brief exhibitions which have been and gone before I get a chance to write about them in the paper.
So in this blog I want to go beyond the column, to include observations on the Coventry, Warwickshire and larger art world, gossip, interviews, plus bits of news I’m not able to squeeze into the newspaper column.
This is of course the worst week of the year to launch a blog – but it’s not long til January and I’m already looking forward to sipping a glass of wine at the first exhibition private views of the year.