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.
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.
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.
You can see lots of work by young and newly starting out artists in Coventry at the moment – and at one of the exhibitions you can sit down and talk to the artists as you admire their work.
Students who have just finished their MA in Contemporary Art Practice or Contemporary Craft are exhibiting in the studio at The Herbert in Coventry city centre. Part of it includes a table where visitors are invited to sit down and join some of the artists either in an art activity – I was invited to embroider but decided it wasn’t me – or just have a cup of tea and a chat.
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.
A new art gallery has opened in an old space in Coventry city centre.
Roots gallery is in what people have known for years at the glass box or glass showcase opposite Browns and The Herbert in Earl Street. It was owned by the council and pretty much anyone could exhibit there as long as they paid the low hire cost.
The result was a bit of a mish-mash – some very good, some interesting discoveries, lots average and some quite poor.
A change of policy has resulted in the decision to support a Coventry University graduate, Sian Conway, in taking over the space for a year with a properly curated programme of exhibitions. Officially, the plan is to build on the gallery’s existing links with community groups, local artists and students, while adding a new vision and making it a “dynamic space for contemporary visual art”.