Since 1992 Talking Birds has been producing thoughtful, playful, resonant, mischievous and transformative meditations on people and place. Their work is characterised by a distinctive blend of humour, music and visual flair in venues both conventional and unconventional across the UK and internationally – from the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank, to Kilkenny Livestock Mart; from a cavernous underground car park in Scarborough, to a decommissioned hospital in Coventry, to a giant aluminium whale which swallows up audiences one at a time. Their projects invite people to explore a particular place of interest in a mediated way; weaving together its stories – real and imagined – to make accessible this neglected or forgotten space and encourage people to examine it in a new light. Talking Birds have been commissioned by Spon Spun and The Albany Theatre to make a new promenade piece inspired by the stories of local people and the rich history of the theatre building. During the Art Trail the piece will be presented hourly from 11am to 4pm.
Born and bred in the Midlands, Kindy Dayal’s narrative non-fiction has featured in contemporary dance performances. She has won prizes for her short stories, which have been published in anthologies from Serpent’s Tail, Reclam and Birkbeck. Kindy has been commissioned by Spon Spun to create new writing for and inspired by the clients of the Coventry MIND drop-in. The work will be presented on the Art Trail outside the Coventry MIND building in Wellington Gardens. Read about the workshop with Kindy and Ruth Spaak at Coventry MIND here.
HA is an artist led organization developing and delivering creative projects in Coventry and the wider areas of Warwickshire and the West Midlands, co-directed by artists Rob Hamp and Andrea Hannon. Dr Andrea Hannon is a contemporary artist, researcher and lecturer and is currently Research Assistant for Visual Art and Art History at Coventry University. Rob Hamp is an author, artist and constructor working on art projects of an individual and collaborative nature. He has exhibited widely including most recently at NAFAE 2017 and also New Art West Midlands 2017 (Water Hall Gallery, Birmingham) where he was awarded the main prize. He is also co-director of FETWWL. HA have been commissioned by Spon Spun to create new writing for and inspired by the customers of Oasis Cafe. The work will be presented at the cafe on the Art Trail. Follow HA and Spon Spun on twitter to get updates on the progress of the work.
Antonio Roberts is a New Media artist and Curator based in Birmingham, UK. His artwork uses glitch art, hacking and technology-driven processes to explore issues surrounding open source software, free culture and collaborative practices. As a performer and visual artist his work has been featured at many galleries and festivals around the world including France, London, Chicago and Birmingham. He is currently a curator at Vivid Projects, Near Now Fellow, and is part of the Advisory Group for New Art West Midlands. Antonio has been commissioned by Spon Spun to create a new work for and inspired by Yr 5/6 pupils at Spongate Primary. The project was kicked off with a workshop at Spongate Primary led by local artist Mary Courtney and Antonio, out of which came many wonderful pictures and poems about Spon End. Read more about Mary’s work with Spon Spun here (link to Mary’s blog). On the Art Trail Antonio’s work will be presented at the school. Poetry from the children and Mary will also feature on the pavements around the trail.
Anne Forgan makes art projects and things; including the Spon Spun Arts Trail. She is interested in the big and small questions of life and making connections between people using making, stories and play. She is also the Creative Director of Extraordinary Arts & Associate Producer of Ludic Rooms.
Metal sculpture is David Dewis’ intuitive response to generations of family working the material. Design has been at the forefront of his rich experience, from industrial design to metalsmithing and fine art practice. Today he produces evocative, thought-provoking sculpture in varied materials. Every commission is an artistic adventure – a creative partnership. The Spon Spun Art Trail will see the unveiling of a new bench for Spon Street the design of which has been developed through community workshops. This project and commission is funded and supported by Coventry University, Fab Lab and Bags of Help
Holyhead Studios and Class Room
Holyhead Studios is an artist-led visual arts organisation founded in 2016 and based in a Victorian Friends Meeting House at 16 Lower Holyhead Road, CV1 3AU. The organisation aims to provide creative space for artists and communities in Coventry. Resident artists currently include: Laurence Curtis, Vicky Ram, Val Mitchell, Angie Atkins, Martin Malone, David Beaumont, Martin Green, Denise Statin, Frieda Van De Poll, Sara Casals, Sharanjeet Kaur and Wei. Also at Holyhead Studios is Class Room gallery curated by Matthew Macaulay. On Heritage Weekend Holyhead Studios and Class Room gallery will be open and this will form part of the Spon Spun Art Trail on Sunday 10th September.
Tom Tierney is a documentary photographer from Coventry who places people in history through collaborative practice. By building positive relationships and searching for ‘the decisive moment’ he captures both the hidden beauty and reality of everyday life in his subject, be it people or places.
Paul Nolan is an actor, theatre director and writer based in Coventry. He was a director and actor with the award winning Tic Toc Theatre Company. Last year Paul directed Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark for the Albany Theatre and has worked with other Midlands based companies including Talking Birds, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The Belgrade Theatre and Theatre Absolute. He is currently working in collaboration with the Albany Theatre, Coventry to produce and stage The Window which is due to open the new studio space of The Albany Theatre on 10th November this year (book on-line).
Mary Courtney is an award winning poet and widely exhibited artist. Born in Coventry to Irish parents, she has lived in the city for most of her life. Leverhulme Artist in residence in the Chemistry Department at the University of Warwickshe says she is ‘drawn to the deliciously ridiculous. To the play of opposites – the dark and the light of life – and their strange interdependence’
Carol Breen is an Irish design and moving image practitioner. She 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 Martins, 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.
Ruth Spaak is a designer/maker, trained in Fine Art, Constructed Textiles and Glass. Ruth works with any media to create surfaces, structures and sculptures. She combines collected, customised and dismantled materials to produce complex, layered objects. Ruth also works on community and school projects to produce permanent artworks for specific settings. She facilitates practical ‘hands on’ making projects for groups of all ability levels, using tactile and unusual materials.Ruth and Adrian Spaak were lead artists for the ‘Our Warwickshire’ project for The Market Hall Museum, Warwick, 2016-2017. For Spon Spun they have run 3 community workshops, including one at the Wellbeing Hub of Coventry & Warwickshire MIND, to create over 20 ‘Fabulous Fruits’ for the Art Trail on Sunday 10th September.
Michelle Englefield was born in Coventry and has lived in the city all her life. She graduated this year from Coventry University with a first class honours degree in Fine Art. Her practice is often interactive and based on her environment and the experiences which affect how she thinks and feels. From September 2017 she will be taking up a residency with Coventry Artspace Partnerships and preparing for a solo exhibition at City Arcadia Gallery in 2018.
Chiara Grant 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 Festival Art Trail. Through painting she explores the relationship between space and trust.
Min Kyung Kim
Min-Kyung Kim 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. Last year she became a resident artist at Eaton House with Coventry Artspace Partnerships where she has begun to re-visit and develop her practice.
Keith Watts is a local artist, resident and familiar face of Spon End. His compulsion to draw and paint has resulted in an impressive collection of work. As a regular customer of Oasis cafe his popular painting of the local area will feature in the commissioned piece there by HA. His work is also exhibited at Koco Community Resource Centre and for the Art Trail he will be showing a new painting of the Weaver’s House.
Karina Koskina is a multimedia artist and Illustrator. She graduated from Coventry University in 2017 with a degree in Illustration and Fine Art. Inspired by a range of techniques, colours and experimentation she constructs abstract pieces which are often interactive. Her recent works have won the Art Critics Confederations – 2017 ICAC exhibition contest and will be exhibited this August in Chianciano Terme, Italy. From September she will be taking up a residency with Coventry Artspace Partnerships and preparing for a solo exhibition at City Arcadia Gallery in 2018.
The Weavers’ Workshop
The Weavers’ Workshop is a community group of weaver’s 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 Art Trail and there will be demonstrations and opportunities to try out various types of weaving. At 12pm visitors are invited to celebrate the the removal of ‘Coventry Blue’ from its loom. Very possibly the first piece of woad dyed blue cloth to be woven in the city for 450 years!
Examples of the weaver’s work can also be found along the trail
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. His work for the Spon Spun Art Trail 2017 has been curated by Kate Hawkins, a fellow Coventry artist with a keen interest in human geography. Neighbourhood looks at the history and evolution of the post war built environment in Spon End area and the influence of Donald Gibson’s notion of Neighbourhood Units. Many people think of Coventry’s reconstruction as having only taken place in the city centre, but Coventry led the way in the country in its use of the Neighbourhood Unit. In 1961, when the Spon End Comprehensive Development Area was delineated by Arthur Ling, much of Spon End’s housing was nearing the end of its useful life. There were also industrial that were considered inappropriate for the neighbourhood. This project is a photographic essay on how the area has fared. By kind permission of Coventry History Centre some of the original documentation is also on display.
Christopher Sidwell is a local musician who has put Mary Courtney’s deliciously mad poem ‘The Singing Sock of Spon End’ to music, creating a tongue-in-cheek, Bowie style, lonely hearts number! Christopher’s first band was Digital Dinosaurs (whose vinyl records are now collectible items sold by Chuck Warner in the USA). He now plays with multi-instramentalist Alf Hardy in his increasingly popular band Crokodile Tears, known affectionately as The Croks, with long-time contributor guitarist Jerry Richards making a regular appearance.
Coventry Men’s Shed
Coventry Men’s Shed was set up to help with the health and wellbeing of men aged 30 and over. This very active group 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. The Men’s Shed have also been using their creative culinary skills to provide delicious food for participants of the Spon Spun Summer Saturdays.
(BIG PARTY PICNIC! 4:30 – 6:30)
The Upsiders are a 5 piece band specialising in Funk, Soul, Pop and Folk music. With their diverse backgrounds in theatre, classical music, jazz, rock, blues and pop, they can cover all areas of music. The Upsiders members met in 2012 at Coventry University, all studying music composition. Since forming properly in 2015 they have become well known for busking in Coventry, gathering large crowds and making Coventry a brighter place. The Upsiders regularly perform at weddings, parties and festivals, previously performing at Godiva Festival 2017 and being featured on BBC radio.