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

Charity shop finds turned into Coventry city centre art exhibition

If you think you’ve seen a new charity shop open in Coventry city centre – you’re partly, artily, right.
The Charity Shop Tour Shop is open in an empty shop at 19 Hertford Street, just off Broadgate.
It consists of items from Coventry-based artist Lorsen Camps’s The Charity Shop Tour project, and responses to them by artists Dave Gray, Jamie Randall and Ben Rowe.
The tour took place in 2003 and involved Lorsen travelling around the country visiting 1,306 charity shops in six weeks, and then producing a book about the project. The exhibition marks the tenth anniversary of the tour, with the additional works added to it. The items have all been carefully documented and you can read what they all are, and which shop and town they were sourced from.


Legacy of Coventry’s post-war modernist architecture is inspiration for fascinating exhibition

Jo Gane and Caroline Jones
An exhibition by two artists has found new ways to focus on the legacy of post-war modernist architecture in Coventry, and both are fascinating in their separate ways.
Jo Gane and Caroline James, who met on the London College of Communication’s photography MA course, are exhibiting in Nostalgia for the Future (Past) at the Roots Gallery in Coventry city centre.


Serious start to new year with Coventry and Warwickshire exhibitions

begging near covent garden car park (2)
Begging near Covent Garden car park in Leamington by Josh King

For those prone to a bout of post-Christmas depression, the subject matter of several new exhibitions in Coventry and Warwickshire may not seem like the best antidote. However don’t be put off – the standard of work on show might actually cheer you up.


Work hard to make an exhibition of yourself at the Mead

Julie Chamberlain at Mead
Today I had fun making an exhibition of myself. Lots of friends may think there’s nothing new there, but this time it was for real.
Workplace is the title of a new exhibition at the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre at the University of Warwick, featuring works by six artists or groups of artists, plus a few related photographic works, all related to the world of work.
As an extra feature, the Mead is inviting people to book in to use a desk space and computer for two-hour slots in the gallery, or book a space for a meeting, an offer I couldn’t refuse. Well how often do you get to be an actual part of an exhibition?!


Spectacular dramatic end to exhibition – kicked down by artist Aeneas Wilder


kick down pic
Picture of a kick-down at another gallery – but very similar to today’s event
WOW – stunning – spectacular. It was hard to think in more than single words as I watched the deafening end of Aeneas Wilder’s exhibition at the Mead gallery at Warwick Arts Centre.
Untitled #162 was a huge installation built entirely from small, identical lengths of wood in the gallery. It took the form of two rooms and a narrow corridor connecting them, several feet above head height. Wilder created this and his previous works with no fixings.
At the end of every exhibition he has a kick down – and attending it was the hottest ticket in town today, and an unforgettable sight.


New exhibitions for Lanchester Gallery Projects and Roots in Coventry centre

It seems at the moment if there’s one gallery having an opening night in Coventry, then there’s two.
A few weeks ago it was the Mead and The Herbert, and the Herbert also clashed with the Coventry Transport Museum last week. Last night it was the turn of the Roots Gallery and Lanchester Gallery Projects to double date, but as they’re so close together it was possible to get to both, as quite a few of us proved, as familiar faces were spotted in both, quaffing a couple of glasses of wine.
First on my schedule was the LGP, which is staging On the Desperate And Long-Neglected Need For Small Events. Arriving a bit after 6.30pm, I found I’d missed this small event, though luckily it was repeated at 7pm.


Mini makes her mark with Coventry city centre exhibition

Mini Padam 1  Mini Padam 2
An exhibition of luscious pop-art influenced works by a Coventry-grown talent has gone on show in the city.
Mini Padam went to Foxford School then did a foundation year at Coventry University before heading off to follow her interests with a degree in graphic design and illustration followed by an MA in illustration at Camberwell College of Arts.
Now working on her own designs and teaching graphic design, illustration and photography in a college, she’s back in Coventry for a big show of her own.
She works in screen printing and digital illustration, and there are several clear themes and influences emerging. Ice cream vans pop up in several images, and the show, which is upstairs at Browns Independent Bar in Coventry city centre, is called Ice Cream and Synth.
However Mini says of the ice cream vans: “I just like the shape”, though the important role of an ice cream van in Assault on Precinct 13, is also important to her: “I’m obsessed with films and music. ” (more…)

Crime and closure

Not a good week in some ways for Coventry art world last week.
The Roots Gallery in Earl Street was broken into, and some electrical equipment used in two of the pieces of work was stolen.
The gallery had to close while police investigated and the council who own it were apparently going to put in extra security measure. However it’s not the first break in at the gallery – when it was just known as the glass showcase it was broken into a couple of years ago I think, and tools and other easily saleable items were stolen. You would think somewhere that is mostly glass-sided would put off burglars – but obviously not. Let’s hope this time the security measures work or it will limit what is used in exhibitions.
Emma O’Brien also announced she would be closing the Lock Gallery in the Canal Basin warehouse after a final exhibition in August.