Spon Spun 2018 Artists

The Spon Spun Arts and `Heritage Trail took place on Saturday 15th September 11am to 4pm (finishing with a performance of The Female Warrior by Talking Birds at 4pm in Langar Aid House Garden).

#Sponspun2018     #ThisisCoventry     #Re-invention     #Extraordinarywomen

This year our special theme for the Trail is one of Coventry City of Culture 2021 themes – RE-INVENTION.  Many of the artists involved have responded enthusiastically to this theme, demonstrating again just what a creative city we are!  We are also celebrating the 2018 National Heritage Open Day theme of EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN through the Talking Birds performances of The Female Warrior and the display of the wonderful banner made by volunteers of The Weavers’ Workshop and Foleshill Womens’ Training with artists Anne Forgan and Karen Johnson to celebrate 100 years of women getting the vote.

*The deadline for artists to apply to be part of 2018 trail has now passed – but do look out for our call out next year if you’re feeling inspired to take part!

Walk With Me…


Artist: Talking Birds        Twitter/Instagram: @birdmail

At our Suimmer Saturday on 8 September Talking Birds* is piloting the first of its city trails commissioned as part of Coventry City of Culture’s Great Place project, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England.

Come and tune in to some of the secrets of Spon End in the company of our guide, Herbert. Expect a trail of the unexpected – and help Talking Birds develop this work-in-progress walking tour by giving your feedback afterwards over tea & cake.  Tours at 1pm & 2.30pm from outside the Oasis Community Cafe, Spon End CV1 3BL. Free and suitable for all ages, and route is ramp accessible, but pre-booking essential by e-mailling (please state how many places you would like to reserve and any access requirements you’d like to let us know about).

*Talking Birds is a nationally renowned, Coventry-based company of artists specialising in Theatre of Place. For last year’s Spon Spun/HOD Talking Birds created Backstage at the Albany Theatre, and earlier this year (temporarily) painted the city orange with The Q at the Shopfront Festival.

Moira’s Wet Fish Shop

Artists: Mary Courtney, Christopher Sidwell, Andrea Mbarushimana, Jack Shuttleworth, Marie Sindel

Links: @FabLabCov

Moira, along with her fishy friends, will be brought back to Moira’s Wet Fish Shop – in sea shanty song, art and sculpture. These will be created by artists Mary Courtney, Christopher Sidwell, Marie Sindel, Jack Shuttleworth and Andrea Mbarushimana, working with people from the Grapevine and the wider community. Moira’s Wet Fish Shop is something of a local landmark in Spon End, but little is known of Moria herself. Having spoken to Moira’s family, we would like to return Moira artistically to her shop for the Spon Spun Art Trail. And as well as the real Moira, introduce “Sponnie”  a one metre fish invention, with black wings, gnashing parts, lights and false fingernails. Sponnie will be there with her entourage of fishy art creations – fish reinvented with mechanical inspiration from the old Spon End industries of watch and bicycle making. These will be on display in the shop window, hanging from fish-lines. And there will be Sponnie and singing outside the shop. Come along and take a selfie with Sponnie!

All the Coventry artists involved have an interest in the creaturely. Christopher Sidwell exhibited his witty animal portraits in the CET pop up gallery and is the singer-songwriter in the band “Crokodile Tears”. Andrea Mbarushimana is a writer-artist well known on the poetry circuit, and has exhibited at the Herbert. Marie Sindel is a costume and prop maker working at Coventry Fablab. Jack Shuttleworth, also at Fablab, has expertise in making things mechanical. Mary Courtney is an artist and award-winning poet. Mary and Andrea are concocting “The Coventry Menagerie” for the City of Culture 2021.

Spon 360

Artist: Libby Cufley


Spon 360 is an immersive 360° video which leads the viewer on an augmented reality walk through Spon End, encouraging them to experience physically the psychogeography of the landscape through walking. The piece can be streamed via YouTube and be viewed on portable devices such as smart phones and tablets; the viewer can angle their device to experience the work from various perspectives. The video features a series of happenings based on the history of the area, prompting the viewer to see the strange within the familiar and focus their attention on things which otherwise may go unnoticed.

Libby Cufley is an artists’ moving image practitioner, researcher and curator working in both analogue and digital media, based in London and the West Midlands. The domestic space, work, mental health and the body are key themes within her practice. Research areas of interest include artists’ moving image distribution, brutalist architecture, feminist film theory, identity politics and artists’ moving image from the 70s and 80s. She is currently a member of Vivid Projects’ Black Hole Club for artist development. In 2008, she graduated from Middlesex University with First Class BA Hons degree in Fine Art, and in 2013 graduated with Merit from the MRes Art: Moving Image course at Central Saint Martins in conjunction with Lux.

For the Sake of a Shilling

Artist: Helen Kilby Nelson

Links: @HelenNelsonArt

After researching her family history, artist Helen Kilby Nelson discovered that her ancestors had lived in various areas of Coventry, including Spon Street, since at least 1792.  Over the years members of her family had various occupations including, Farmer, Baker/Grocer, Silk Weaver, Carpenter/Joiner, Brass Turner, Journeyman and Tube Roller. “I have never lived in Coventry but it feels the most natural place in the world for me to be in. I can trace a long line of ancestors who lived in the city until 1916, from as far back as the 18th Century. Have they somehow passed on their memories to me? Is this why I feel at home in a place I have never lived?”  Exploring her family heritage through the vehicle of genetic memory, Helen will research what her ancestors saw, heard and experienced creating a body of work that culminates in projected abstract and found images incorporated into moving image with broken narrative and soundscape.

Helen is a moving image, sound and installation artist working in a research based and socially engaged art practice. She is interested in the social and the political exploring our sense of identity, how it is formed and how it is viewed by others.  Helen recently graduated with a First Class BA (Hons) Fine Art & Contemporary Cultures from Warwickshire College. She is the co-founder of an artists’ peer to peer collective, The Shared Collective and the founder of a tenants’ action group in Stratford upon Avon, S/o/A District Tenants’ Action Group.

The Female Warrior

Artist: Talking Birds

Links: @birdmail

Following the very special ‘Backstage at The Albany’ last year, Spon Spun is delighted to continue their relationship with Coventry’s wonderful arts company Talking Birds.  This year, in addition to launching a very idiosyncratic audio tour of Spon End at Oasis Community Cafe on 8th September (see Walk With Me above), they will be honouring the 2018 Heritage Open Day theme of Extraordinary Women with The Female Warrior.

THE FEMALE WARRIOR  Or The Surprising Life and Adventures of Hannah Snell

A FREE outdoor performance telling the extraordinary true story of Hannah Snell who, in 1746, joined the army in Coventry in the guise of a man and whose life as soldier, marine, mother, stage performer & pub landlady defied the conventions of their time.

“Captivating” (Audience Member)

Performance times: 1pm & 4pm In the garden behind Langar Aid House on Doe Bank Lane (next to historic Spon Bridge) CV1 3AR

The performance lasts 40 minutes and is suitable for all ages. Produced by acclaimed Coventry theatre company Talking Birds (Backstage at the Albany, We Love You City, The Q)

CAPTIONS [subtitles] will be broadcast to Mobile Devices via THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE app.    @birdmail

Photo of Elinor Coleman by Alan Van Wijgerden


Folk Play

Artist: Ludic Rooms

Links: @ludicrooms

To accompany the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum’s Play! Exhibition, Ludic Rooms, are play gurus in residence, conducting play experiments with the public at the Herbert and beyond, throughout the summer.   They’re coming to Spon Spun Festival to play with you!

Back in the 1950s, Peter and Iona Opie made recordings of the playground games of British schoolchildren. We want to bring this up to date and into the future, collecting and remixing your rhymes and clapping games, to imagine the rhymes we’ll be chanting in another half-century’s time.

They will also have our ‘Nest’ structure together with our Toyless Toy Catalogue, with all sorts of surprising ideas for playing differently.

Image by Andrew Moore


Karen Rose Textiles


Artist: Karen Johnson


Karen Johnson is a decorative textile artist living and working in Spon End, Coventry.  She has been stitching and creating textile artworks for many years, influenced by a myriad of themes and topics. Currently her artworks are visual transcriptions from the beauty she sees in the wonder of the universe.  Captivated by planets, stars, nebulae, moons, white dwarfs and supernovae, she sees a cosmic ocean of wonderful and fascinating patterns, shapes and colours.  Her dyed, collaged, stitched and embroidered pieces are a way of exploring the structure, composition and texture of this mesmerising beauty.  A textile homage!

Spon Spun Management Group will be commissioning Karen to work with The Weavers’ Workshop and Spon Gate Primary School to create a new art work for the Spon Spun Arts & Heritage Trail 2019.

Mighty Elephant

Artist: Priyanka Dhar

Artist Priyanka Dhar has studied Madhubani folk art for two years, attracted to its intricate detailing, motifs, symbols and figures.  Her recent work ‘Motherhood’ won the The Big Picture Art Project, Vancouver, Canada.  For the Spon Spun Art Trail Priyanka is creating a ‘Mighty Elephant’ in the Mithila Madhubani tradition.  The artwork is a fusion of contemporary motifs with the indigenous art form.  Among the many motifs and meanings incorporated in the picture will be the butterfly and the snake symboalising the #Reinvention of the city of Coventry.

Postcards from Coventry

Artist: Sylvia Theuri

Links: @SylviaTheuri

For Spon Spun 2018, artist Sylvia Theuri has created 5 pieces of digital artwork inspired by the Spon End Area (Spon End arches, Vignoles Bridge, Earlsdon Park, Medieval Spon Street and Meadow House ). They are printed as postcards and displayed on a postcard stand as an ‘installation’ within Oasis Cafe.  The public are invited to come into the café and share with their thoughts on ‘What makes Coventry great?’. These ‘thoughts’ will be added on to the printed postcards throughout the day. From the beginning of November 2018 Sylvia will send 2 postcards a month to coffee shops within the 26 cities that Coventry is twinned with. The coffee shop owners will be invited to write back to her, thereby creating a dialogue with the twin cities whilst showcasing some of the areas in and around Spon End. The ongoing postcard journeys and dialogue will be documented through Sylvia’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

Dr Sylvia Theuri is an artist, art educator and researcher based in Coventry. She currently teaches art history and theory on an International Art and Design Foundation Programme for OnCampus Coventry (based at Coventry University).  Sylvia has a PhD from the University of Salford, which focused on Black African students’ experiences of higher education art and design. As part of her thesis she utilised Critical Race Theory to explore the experiences of research participants. Sylvia holds a First Class BA (Hons) in History of Art and Design with Practice -Fine Art (Manchester Metropolitan University) and an MA in Art and Design in Education (UCL Institute of Education).   Her art has been described as vibrant, passionate and dynamic.  Her current practice utilises digital media to explore Coventry’s iconic cultural landmarks and its current fast moving urban transformation.  Responding to the City of Culture 2021 and this year’s Spon Spun theme of #Reinvention, she is interested in exploring the way she – as a Kenyan-British woman – experiences, sees and engages with the city she lives in and how her existence in Coventry challenges and redefines the city.

Wings of Potential

Artist: Baljit Rayit

Links: @artxbal

Artist Baljit Rayit has responded to the City of Culture 2021 and this year’s Spon Spun theme of #Reinvention by creating a life-size pair of wings to symbolise the transformative potential of Coventry.  They represent Coventry on the brink of a major change, and the people of Coventry are at the forefront of this transformation. “Just as a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly, the wings represent the power of transformation. They are a celebration of the people of Coventry, who make our city so vibrant and unique,” says Baljit.

Baljit Rayit is a self-taught artist designer who has lived in Coventry all her life. Her favourite mediums are acrylic and watercolour and her art is characteristically vibrant and bright, communicating happiness and energy.

The Ends

Artist: Sherrie Edgar


Artist Sherrie Edgar has created an experimental, poetic and reflective film that captures and explores her experience of Spon End as a local resident while a student at Coventry University. The brutalist architecture of the area is complemented with urban sounds and music exclusively recorded for Spon Spun Festival 2018.

Sherrie Edgar is currently studying for an MA in Contemporary Arts Practice at Coventry University.  Currently her practice focuses on the use of film and photography to explore the the impact of environments on emotions.


Artist: Chiara Grant

On the Spon Spun 2018 Trail Chiara Grant will present 3 paintings from her Blocks project has evolved over years of preparation working with organic and structural forms in paint, 2D and 3D.  Each piece is a systemic and emotional response to Coventry’s urbanisation and regeneration, connecting the built environment and communicating utopian theories.

Chiara is a graduate of the Fine Art and Contemporary Practice MA at Coventry University. She has exhibited at various venues in Coventry and Warwickshire and took part in Spon Spun 2016 and 2017 Festival Art Trail. Through painting she explores the relationship between space and trust.

Carol Breen


Artist: Carol Breen

Links: @breen_carol @grapevinecandw

Carol Breen was Curator’s Choice Winner of the 2017 Spon Spun Arts & Heritage Trail with her piece ‘Loop-the-Loop’.  Spon Spun is delighted to report that we have raised funds from Arts Council England to support Carol to work with KoCo Community Resource Centre and Grapevine to produce a commissioned piece for Spon Spun 2019.  This year Carol will be showing various works and talking to visitors about her first thoughts on the commission.  Carol is an Irish design and moving image practitioner and studied Visual Communications at The Limerick School of Art and Design in Ireland, moving on to complete an MA in Communication Design at Central Saint Martin’s, The University of the Arts, London. She is currently undertaking a Practice-as Research PhD at The Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE) at Coventry University England. She is interested in looking at how artworks perform in different contexts. Through practice she attempts to challenge existing positions and hierarchies, by reconstructing movement and reengineering sequences using a variety of media.

Min-Kyung Kim


Artist: Min-Kyung Kim

Links: @Kim’sArt

Min-Kyung Kim was Visitor’s Choice Winner of the 2017 Spon Spun Arts & Heritage Trail with her piece ‘Rain of Memory’.  Spon Spun is delighted to report that we have raised funds from Arts Council England to support Min-Kyung to work with Holyhead Studios and Local People Spon End (Sustrans) to produce a commissioned piece for Spon Spun 2019.   This year Min-Kyung will be showing various works and talking to visitors about her first thoughts on the commission.  Min-Kyung studied Oriental Painting at Gye University for the Arts in Korea. Since graduating with an MA in Art and Design from Coventry University, she has exhibited a number of times in Coventry but also taken time away from her practice to raise her family.  She is currently a resident artist at Eaton House with Coventry Artspace Partnerships where she has begun to re-visit and develop her practice.

Alan Van Wijgerden

Artist: Alan Van Wijgerden


Alan Van Wijgerden has been a photographer and filmmaker for over 30 years and has completed around 200 films. He has worked for the BBC, Arts Council and many clients, including The University of Warwick. He currently uses YouTube to post a Coventry based video every week. For three years he annually photographed the whole of Spon Street, demonstrating the subtle environmental changes that could otherwise go unnoticed. Last year, supported by artist curator Kate Hawkins, Alan produced a small exhibition entitled Neighbourhood which looked at the history and evolution of the post war built environment of the area area and the influence of Donald Gibson’s notion of Neighbourhood Units. This year, inspired by the huge success his video ‘Sent to Coventry’ (1992)*, and sporting the same jumper, Alan has made a playful film about his favourite haunts and memories of Spon End, where he has lived for many years. *Over 5,000 views on YouTube and counting!

Men’s Shed

Artist: Coventry Men’s Shed (Crafty Blokes)

Links: @ukmenssheds

Coventry Men’s Shed was Curator’s Choice Runner-up of the 2017 Spon Spun Arts & Heritage Trail with their selection of pieces made by their Crafty Blokes group. The group was set up to help with the health and wellbeing of men aged 30 and over. They are very active and work to regain a greater level of confidence and self-worth through a huge range of creative activities from marionette making to painting and cooking. For the 2018 Trail they will again be showing a selection of their work made in the Crafty Blokes’ sessions.

The Men’s Shed have also been using their creative culinary skills to provide delicious food for participants of the Spon Spun Summer Saturdays. Links:

The Weavers’ Workshop


Artist: The Weavers’ Workshop


The Weavers’ Workshop was Visitor’s Choice Runner-up of the 2017 Spon Spun Arts & Heritage Trail with their piece ‘Coventry Blue’ (very possibly the first piece of woad dyed blue cloth to be woven in the city for 450 years!). The Weavers’ Workshop is a community group of weavers based at the Weaver’s House. They hold two drop-ins a week – one on a Monday morning and one on a Thursday morning. Anyone with an interest in weaving is welcome to join the group by coming along to one of the drop-in sessions. The Weaver’s House will be open for the Spon Spun Arts & Heritage Trail and there will be demonstrations and opportunities to try out various types of weaving.

Local People Spon End (Sustrans)

Artists: Local People Spon End (Sustrans), Tara Rutledge


National charity Sustrans is delivering ‘Local People Spon End’, a community street design project, funded by The Peoples Health Trust. Over the last 12 months project coordinators Daryl and Chloe have been talking to local people about the outdoor spaces and streets around Spon End, gathering people’s opinions, experiences and ideas for enhancements.  One of their first encounters last year was the Spon Spun Festival and discussions around cleaning up the Spon Street Subway.  Since then they have continued to talk to local people about improvements to the subway through their friendly and informal project meets and social activities, talking to users of the subway and running ideas testing activities.  On the Spon Spun Trail this year they’ll be continuing these conversations, giving visitors the  experience of a temporary transformation with lights, projection and music and a chance to create their own subway ‘make-over’ designs.

The aim of the Local People Spon End project is to enable local people to try out some of their ideas for real.  There are regular events at local venues and anyone from Spon End is come along.   The subways are just one focus of the project – the River Sherbourne and Upper Spon Street are other key locations that are being looked at.  The direction of the project is led by the ideas put forward by the local people and Chloe and Daryl are always very pleased to have new people get involved.



Photo Archive Miners


Artist: Photo Archive Miners


Photo Archive Miners CIC are a non-profit organisation that work with the public and institutions to re-purpose photographic collections to create new stories about people and place.  For our 2018 The Art Trail (and our Summer Saturdays) they will be bringing along the beautiful photographs (including glass plates) and poignant story of William Bawden, resident of Coventry from the late 1800s to 1951.

Bawden’s photographs are a snapshot of a forgotten Coventry, when outside the crowded, industrial streets of the city centre lay open fields, parks and avenues.  He documented the world around him, from the humdrum to the monumental.  Demonstrating an enviable artistic eye he captured the 1919 peace march before it turned sour; shot still lifes of flowers; and took various portraits, including several of the Wood family of 22 Norfolk Street, Spon End.  Each time he faithfully recorded all the technical details of his photography, from weather conditions and lighting, shutter speed and the date of each frame.  His fascinating legacy was stored away and forgotten for almost 60 years, having been entrusted to his nephew, Harold, who was also an amateur photographer. It was only on his death that the glass plates, carefully archived in a makeshift darkroom fashioned from an old coal house in a garden at Blackberry Lane, Wyken, were rediscovered.

The Miners are also interested to see your photographs of Spon End and are working with Spon Spun to develop this into a bigger heritage and social history exhibition and project for Spon Spun 2019.  Come along, share your memories and pictures of Spon End and find out more.

Coventry & District Archaeological Society (CADAS)

Artist: CADAS

The Coventry and District Archaeological Society (CADAS) have been carrying out an excavation in the garden of the Broomfield Tavern (14-16 Broomfield Place, Coventry CV5 6GY).  This was the site of three cottages, which were constructed in the late 1850s.  Some remains of the foundations of the cottages have been uncovered during the excavation.  Underneath these foundations, further brick and stone walls have been discovered, the purpose for which is currently unknown.  The excavation site will be open to the public as part of the Spun Spun Arts & Heritage Trail on 15th September and also on the 16th September, from 11am – 4pm.  This is an opportunity for the public to view the ongoing excavation, handle some of the finds and to ask questions about archaeology and the history of the area.
Access to the site is via the footpath next to the pub, running from Broomfield Place to Spon End, and not through the pub.

Inhabiting Edgelands – Prints

Artist: Jonny Bark

Links: @JBP_media

‘Inhabiting Edgelands’ is a body of work that responds to edgelands: transitional patches of land between urban and rural landscapes that are often overlooked.  For Spon Spun 2018 photographer Jonny Bark will be showing prints from the work, which questions the aesthetics and representation of the British hierarchy of landscapes. The urban sprawl contributes to the creation of edgelands, but also replaces them. With the recent regeneration of Coventry surrounding the ambition of Coventry University to maintain the largest student population out of all UK universities and the City of Culture plans for 2021; Inhabiting Edgelands represents an anthroprogenic city space without a collective agenda. The installation ‘Inhabiting Edgelands’ has had a solo exhibition in Coventry’s CET building and a group show in Middle East College Oman, and the book has been displayed in OpenEye Gallery Liverpool, PhotoFusion London and the Library Project Dublin.

Jonny Bark is based in Coventry but born in Northallerton in North East England in 1995 and grew up in the market town of Thirsk. In 2013 he developed his interest of both photography and the urban landscape at Coventry University studying Photography. However, it was the edgelands of Coventry that captured his attention instead, and the communities who used them.  Since graduating he has taught photography to undergraduate students at Coventry University, worked as an assistant to London based photographer Liz Hingley, and been offered a commission as part of ‘Great Places’ with the Photo Archive Miners’ ‘Tale of Two Streets’ project. Jonny has also been offered a PhD in Photography, Art and Motility that he has chosen to defer.  He currently works as a research assistant for GRAIN Photography Hub and is a freelance artist and creator. He organised ‘Emerging Art, Emerging Place’ in response to Coventry’s successful 2021 City of Culture bid.

The Daisy Belles Folk Band

Artist: The Daisybelles Folk Bank


“Daisybell are a Warwickshire-based folk trio who perform regularly at Midlands folk clubs and have just completed a tour of festivals around the country.  Katherine, Ginny and Anya sing original and traditional songs in three-part harmony, accompanied by a variety of acoustic instruments”.  At Spon Spun 2018 they will be performing songs based upon the stories of Katherine’s ancestors who worked in the mining and weaving industries in nineteenth century Coventry.

Mahendra Patel: Kadence Music


Artist: Mahendra Patel

Links: Kadence Music

Percussionist drummer – Mahandra has been playing drums since the age of 4, from temple tablas to steel band drum kit.  His diversity and eclectic style creates a beautiful fusion of world music, crossing continents. playing by ear as child and continuing to do so as an adult  has given him the scope to be very adaptable in his improvisational skills  delivering to live gigs and rehearsing with bands, from studio session work and teaching workshops, he seems to be very blessed doing the job he loves.  Come and meet him, you never know he may even teach you . . ….

The Grand tour of CET


Film by Mary Courtney and Alan Van Wijgerden  Music by Synthcurious: Ian Campbell, Tim Seeley, Alex Miles

The film “The Grand Tour of the CET”, features a skull as the tour guide for the Coventry Evening Telegraph pop up art space, and an original spooky soundtrack by Synthcurious. It will be shown for the first time at Holyhead Studios on Saturday 15th September, as part of the Heritage Weekend and Spon Spun Arts Trail.

The six minute film by Alan and myself, is a tour of the old, and now closed to the public, Coventry Evening Telegraph building, which lived as a popular pop up art place for one year, attracting 25,000 visitors and numerous artists.

The film was made in the last week of the life of this art space, and features the exhibitions that were on then, along with some animation surprises. Spon Spun 2017, Photo Archive Miners, John Yeadon and Bluecoats School and Street Art, are among the art shown along with the magnificent printing machines.

Toni Buckby: Interactive weaving

Artist: Toni Buckby


Toni Buckby is an artist working with textiles and interactive media, focusing on the intersection between traditional craft techniques, heritage and digital technologies.  Her work explores the process of making, the mathematics of pattern and the creation of complex structures through simple components.  She specialises in the hand embroidery technique of Blackwork, runs workshops on digital fabrication and spends most of her time attempting to get impractical ideas to function.

As part of The Art of Coventry programme produced by Coventry Artspace, Toni Buckby was asked by curator/producer Sue Ball to run a weaving workshop with interactive materials for members of the community at Spon Spun Summer Saturday on 8th September.  The piece shown on the trail will be the product of that work.  This is an artwork you should definitely touch!

The Interlace Project is commissioned by D-Lab and Derby Silk Mill Museum and supported by Arts Council England.

Spon Spun 2017 Artists