Culture

/ˈkʌltʃə/

noun

1. 
the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.



2. 
the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. 





verb

BIOLOGY

1. maintain (tissue cells, bacteria, etc.) in conditions suitable for growth.




The Project

I wanted to do a project which showed the peoples’ view of the City of Culture 2021 by collecting other peoples’ photos of events. I created a map of Coventry to root this project to its geological routes. I used colour and texture to transport this image from a tool into a feeling and mood enhancer which reflects the cultural tapestry which I feel represents our city.

Conceived in a crowd of mobile phone wielders, I thought it would be fascinating to see images of the same event by those who did not consider themselves photographers. The issue I found with this was getting hold of these images. But through the magic of social media and the kindness of strangers I have created a tapastry -view of the year. Using digital photographs, illustrations as well as acyrylic paint, posca pens and wool, I have rooted the piece firmly in our city looking at the history, ethonic diversity and religion of Coventry. 

What weaves us together

As an Artist within the city, it is easy to get stuck in the mindset of an artist. Questions like;

“How do I profit from this?”

“Will this continue to be a creatively funded area?”

“What will be maintained?”

“Why are they using artists from elsewhere?”

Many did this rather than enjoying the fun, excitement and spectacle of the occasion. Lots of people in Coventry may have not experienced such events, or enjoyed previous art/theatrical/cultural festivities in the past. Or simply not understood what they are watching. It opens the floor to questions, experiences, participation and learning. 

Maybe if the events of City of Culture opened the eyes of a few people who never considered taking part in the arts previously, or a child who never thought art mattered before, then maybe it can be considered a success.

Artist Bio

Emily Tyler is a digital artist who still dabbles in painting on occasions. Emily usually works from her photographs of Coventry and create mainly architectural pieces mainly in bright empowering colours. 

Emily was one of the 5 artist in residence during the City of Culture at Coventry Central Hall. She created a range of merchandise vibrant for Central Hall to share the beauty of the building, and to share the story of the Knife Cross. She continues her work at Central hall creating “Joyful Rainbows” toilet doors and work on the legacy art projects which opens the doors to creatives.

“As a neodiverse Artist I generally keep my art uncluttered and simple, the opposite to my brain. This artwork may seem jam-packed, but that’s only a very small amount of the events that happened within the year of Culture. Thousands of people attended events, and I can’t even imagine how many photographs were taken during the period.  I could have created many more canvas if I wanted, and had planned another four canvas at least, but felt that it would simply be far too overwhelming for the viewers.”

History.

River Sherborne;

The source of the river is in the fields near Hawkes End in the parish of Allesley. It flows for about 8 miles or 13 km in a generally southeastern direction. In the centre of Coventry it flows through Spon End (where it is spanned by Vignoles Bridge) and it is culverted just before it reaches the Inner Ring Road and Spon Street, and continues through the suburb of Whitley. It joins the River Sowe (a tributary of the River Avon) south of the A45 road near Baginton.

River Shorbourne, Lakeview, Coundon.

The name Sherbourne is said to derive from Scir Burna, “clear stream” in Old English.

During the medieval period of industrialisation, the river was key for the dying and tanning. It flooded through Sponend and was used to wash out the dye, and ran blue as a result. The other side of the city was used by the tanneries.

It is also speculated that the name Coventry came from the Sherbourne’s original name; “cune’, and  “tre” meaning town.

Urban explorers photos of the Sherbourne under Coventry from 28dayslater.co.uk

Building blocks of Coventry; 

Nothing so true as Coventry Blue

We know that Coventry was a centre for the weaving trade in medieval times. Most famously, Coventry was known for cloth dyed a particular shade of blue “… the marketing of thread… (was) regularly called Coventry blue”.

We can make a good guess that the colour would make reference to the shades of blue produced by woad dyeing. The Coventry process of dying was the most stayfast and vibrant process at the time, and the Italians were in particular, big fans. Italian Linen was shipped to Coventry and dyed before returning. The dye chemical in the woad plant is the same as in the indigo plant which gives denim its distinctive colour, so woad dye would give a colour akin to denim blue, which of course has its own variance.

This brought prosperity to the city, and made it world famous. This wealth led to the further expansion of Industries within the city, and its central location enssured strong trade within the Country as well as the world.

Coventry; City of Culture 2021

UK City of Culture is a competition run by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) every four years. Previous winners are Derry/Londonderry in 2013 and Hull who had their year in 2017.

Both cities experienced a major boost in tourism, as people travelled to visit all of the incredible events that the teams had organised. Cities also benefited from an increase in investors opening new businesses and more opportunities to support the local community, not just for the year but with a legacy which took on the challenge of ‘what happens next?’.

After facing off stiff competition from Paisley, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea, cheers were heard across the many bars, pubs, theatres and community centres that were filled with Coventry supporters as the winner was announced as Coventry. The evening of Thursday 7 December 2017 is immortalised on the BBC’s The One Show.

This is the city where movement began, from innovation in the transport industry to a history of activism. Our city has moved people for centuries.

For a whole year, we celebrated our city with events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle.

As well as these big celebrations,  our city will show its unexpected side, with more intimate experiences and ways to get involved across every ward of the city.

And it’s not just Coventry. This celebration will see the entire region get involved and benefit from the opportunities that being City of Culture brought.”

City of Activism;

Lady Godiva stands both literally and figaratively in the centre of Coventry. The story of Godiva is known the world over for the bravery of the noblewoman standing up for those being overly taxed by her own husband. Was she the first activist?

‘A late Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who is relatively well documented as the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and a patron of various churches and monasteries. Today, she is mainly remembered for a legend dating back to at least the 13th century, in which she rode naked – covered only in her long hair – through the streets of Coventry to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation that her husband, Leofric, imposed on his tenants. The name “Peeping Tom” for a voyeur originates from later versions of this legend, in which a man named Thomas watched her ride and was struck blind or dead.’

“The ribbons seemed to appear overnight, but stayed all summer.

And they were installed just in time for the City of Culture opening ceremony, ‘Coventry Moves’, which takes place on Saturday June 5.

The installation is made up of a canopy of coloured ribbons, and if you looked closely, there are individual messages and drawings on each one.

Coventry moves
Self-sacrifice” sculpted by William Reid-Dick, it was unveiled in 1949 and is one of the few statues of horses outside London to be listed (Grade II).

Draped across the whole of Broadgate square, they are printed with the hopes and aspirations of the city, and with different flags. 

The creative installation has come from some of Coventry’s youngest residents.

It was created by local school children from 76 schools in the city, and remained in Broadgate square for the three months.” Coventry Telegraph

“Self Sacrifice” is pictured in front of Primark, known as  ‘The Owen Owen building’  at the end of Broadgate. Construction began in 1951 along with other reconstruction projects in the city centre after bombing distorted the previous store. The building was designed by Rolf Hellberg, a local architect, and built by Bovis between 1951 and 1954. The new building was opened to great excitement on 1 October 1954.

Owen Owen circ. 1956

This image is a mix of multiple digital photos from different angles of Broadgate, along with digital illustration of “Self-sacrifice” and Owen Owen’s windows.

World of light;

Gaia 

Gaia is a touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter and created from 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface, the artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet, floating in three dimensions.

The installation aims to create a sense of the Overview Effect, which was first described by author Frank White in 1987. Common features of the experience for astronauts are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment. Watch this great film about the phenomenon. 

The artwork also acts as a mirror to major events in society. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the artwork may provide the viewer with a new perspective of our place on the planet; a sense that societies of the Earth are all interconnected and that we have a responsibility toward one another. After the lockdown, there has been a renewed respect for nature.

A specially made surround sound composition by BAFTA award winning Composer Dan Jones is played alongside the sculpture. In Greek Mythology Gaia is the personification of the Earth.”

Displayed in the ruins of Coventry’s old cathedral 5-7th November 2021 as part of the Coventry peace festival.

Laser light city

Technically part of the commonwealth games celebration, post City of Culture, this free, three night show captivated audiences bringing light colour and promise of the continued legacy of City of Culture to Coventry residents. Many images of this spectaclewere posted on social media. The combination of my own digital scratch art and a photographer’s capture of St Micheal’s tower bathed in the colour and light of the laser show combines many things that the city of culture showed people of the city. Past present and future of Coventry is bright, light and vibrant and bathed in Glory.

Image is made up of digital scratch art and photography.

Participation;

City of Culture is not all about professionals, it’s about improving the life of the population. About teaching how we can be better through arts, about self improvement and understanding. It’s about showing off our community groups, and normal people who can guide visitors with their knowledge of our great city. Free Workshops, projects about adding art from across the community or just being part of the audience. I can guarantee not one person in Coventry escaped being part of the celebrations in some way or other.

Image is made up of photograph and illustrations. Including images of The Godiva Sisters, Creative Kindness, City Hosts, banners created by the Coventry community for Array Collective, banners created by 14 women of importance who rode on horseback in the opening celebration, and Polly Merredew painting her rainbows on the Safetyflex Barriers anti-terror barriers.

Parade

“Around 1,000 participants brought sound, colour, action and celebration to the streets of Coventry city centre as part of the culmination of UK City of Culture 2021. A spectacular weekend of events across May 13, 14 and 15 is planned as the city’s year as UK City of Culture approached its end.

That includes This is the City , the city’s longest ever carnival-style parade celebrates the local communities and wonderful array of artists that have helped Coventry move over the past 12 months. This free event, takes place at 1pm on Saturday (May 14) and will be full of dancing, drumming, music, singing with colourful costumes, flags and much more.” Coventry Telegraph

This image contains the images submitted by Confidence through Photography; “City of Culture Legacy” concert display. Confidence through Photography is a community group which uses photography to improve mental health.

The People Venue

The Litten Tree, in the Bullyard, is a pub on the edge of Coventry City Centre. The building that has a long and interesting history, became a Pop-up Art space for the City of culture (and a bit beyond). It will specialise in Heritage and Art of the people of Coventry. Built in 1911 as the Rover Car Company Showrooms, was the front of the factory. The factory spanned a massive area, all the way back to IKEA and the market. Originally it was producing motorbikes and cycles, but expanded into cars. 

The LTB Showrooms as the space was named is a free to use space over two floors, and has been jam-pack with art gems of all types. From painting and sculpture, poetry, craft, music and workshops, it has been a hive of activities. It became a wonderful venue for DJ’s to perform, or people to browse or hold events. Many community groups used the space to exhibit and many a visiter spent hours exploring during their time in the space. lighting and projection was used to great effect to create a Shoreditch boho feel.

Soon to be demolished as part of the City Centre South redevelopment, everyone hopes that the venue finds a new home and continues to offer art access for all.

This image is made up of photos and illustrations of many artworks and artists that were in the venue.

Endless ribbons

Endless ribbon connecting us” by Morag Myerscough

 “The vibrant installation, realised together with Coventry City Council and Creative Giants, breathed new life into one of the city’s major public spaces. The artist introduces the work as part of a major creative regeneration program ahead of the ‘city centre south scheme.’ Morag Myerscough celebrated the news with the dramatic and atmospheric piece along the canopy of Hertford street, transforming the space with the bold simplicity of light and colour.” Design Boom

This piece was inspired by the Baptistry window by artist John Piper was asked to design the stained glass. His view was that with 198 small areas of window to fill, the glass needed dazzling colour and an abstract pattern to create unity.

Morag Myerscough got inspirations from Baptistry window at Coventry Cathedral

The LGBTQ+ flag steps were added as part of the large pride celebrations that took place across the city.

This image is made up of several digital photos edited together and digital artwork.

Be Yourself

Daniel Lismore was chosen as the voice of Innovation in the opening event “Coventry Moves” for City of Culture. He was born in Bournemouth and moved to Coventry at 9 days old. Daniel is an artist, British fabric sculptor, designer, and campaigner. 

Innovation Banner created by the community for COVENTRY MOVES

His exhibition “DANIEL LISMORE: BE YOURSELF, EVERYONE ELSE IS ALREADY TAKEN” at The Herbert Art Gallery in Coventry before moving to the V& A in London.  Featuring 50 life size 3D sculptures including casts of the artists face as well as 7000 unique curiosities collected by the artist. It examined the social, historical and cultural themes central to his work. 

Danial Lismore wearing an outfit designed by local artist Micheal Snodgrass, CoventryMoves

This exhibition gave me dozens of photos to play with and it was difficult to choose what to leave out! This image is made up of a small percentage of these photos and a digital illustration of my favourite piece.

Word on the Street

Plenty of street art happened during the year of Culture making Coventry vibrant and interesting. A major programme was commissioned called “In Paint we trust” excited by Street Art Strategy with support from Coventry Business Improvement District & Coventry City of Culture Trust. But this wasn’t the only work that happened. Creative Giants also worked with artists as well as Brink street Art. In addition, Assembly Festival Gardens sprung up by the Council House where plenty of artists got to paint boards and showcase their art.

I may be biased, but my favourite bit of this piece is my daughter, who is 9, decided she needed to use the Bike racks by Julia Snowdin (featuring shapes of local bus routes) in front if Angry Dan’s James Starley bicycle mural. I love this as street art is most importantly about the life we live interacting with the art.

Cathryn being both model and art director!

Street Art in London got me into Digital photography back in 2007 when I lived in the Capital. Although I had had film cameras growing up, I had never been a good or enthusiastic photographer. I had used it simply to record life events. This was before the time of decent mobile phone cameras, and I was inspired by the work of art such as Banksy (whose work was still popping up randomly around the country on a regular basis.) The purchase of a digital bridge camera with a good zoom (x16) inspired me to get out and explore more and ultimately lead me to the photograph I do today.

Banksy art just off Oxford street 2008

Many Cities around the country and the world are adorned with amazing street art, and its so wonderful that Coventry has such an array of wonderful work.

Photos of work included in this piece include; David Speed, Katie O, Emily Hett, Dynamickart, Dreph, Julia Snowdin, Nomad Clan, Rich Inwood, Philth Blake, Huge Art and several unnamed artists.

Windows of Wonder

Show windows.

Historic England, Riba and Coventry Business Improvement District, in partnership with Coventry City of Culture Trust, worked together on an exciting series of commissions, The Show Windows Programme during Coventry City of Culture 2021. The official account for this epic project which showcased many artists across the city in retail windows is @Cov_Culture

The Show Windows: Reflections celebrated the city’s pioneering post-war heritage by bringing together creatives, communities and collections with installations in the city centre. These artistic interventions looked afresh at how Coventry’s post-war heritage shapes our lives and reflects our hopes for the future.

Including photograph of artwork (with the joy of reflections in the windows) and added illustrations, this piece features work by; Ann Sutton, Intervention Architecture, Neon Studio UK, Matt Chu and Adam Nathanial Furman.

Turning space

The Turner Prize exhibition showcased the work of the five nominees opens at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum. For the first time they selected artist collectives and artist-run projects after consultation of what was important within the Coventry Art scene. The five shortlisted organisations where showcased (although no local organisations were included.)

Array collective; a group of 11 artists who create collaborative actions in response to socio-political issues affecting Northern Ireland.

Black Obsidian Sound System;a London-based collective which works across art, sound and radical activism.

Gentle / Radical; Established in 2013, they are a duo based in London and their practice uses food as a lens and tool to observe landscapes in transformation.

Cooking Sections; an artists-and-others-run project established in Cardiff in 2016. The organisation was formed through a commitment to art, creativity and culture as tools for social change.

Project Artworks; a collective of neurodiverse artists and makers based in Hastings since 1997 that share an expanded idea of art created through collaborative practice with, for and by neurominorities.

Array Collective won and were presented with the Turner Prize in a ceremony held at Coventry Cathedral. They continued with a legacy project there the ran workshops locally and asked everyone to create banners highlighting important issues to the community.

My Banner

Central Creativity

“At a time of massive uncertainty, of pain and anxiety for many, the arts have never been more important. It can inspire, bring joy, bring comfort, make us think. It can lift our soul.”

Following a successful bid to secure significant funding, The Methodist Church at Coventry Central Hall announced their intention at the end of 2020, to become involved in the City of Culture celebrations. A small team of dedicated church members, employees and representatives from the Arts world and Sitting Rooms of Culture groups workied hard to find ways in which they could make the “Arts accessible for all”. Central Halls were built in City Centres to be a presence in the City as a venue for events. They were intentionally built to not look like churches and to make people feel welcome and comfortable. They are proud that the building has continued to be a place of welcome for nearly 90 years, that it is a place for the community to just come, and be. It is their hope that this funding will enable them to build on this ethos by hosting events that will bring art and culture to all people. To help them achieve this they lookied to employ several artists in residence over the course of the year. They hoped that these artists will represent a wide variety of the arts and therefore engage with not only the local community but with the worshipping congregation too. They have also offered significant sponsorship to the council in the form of free use of some of the rooms for their events. The building has always been a magnificent venue for concerts and the Main Hall will continue to be available at fantastic value for money. Most importantly, it was their intention that it will be just the beginning, that this will be the first steps towards creating a lasting legacy beyond 2021 that will continue to nurture and grow the arts in our city. Which continues to this day, including displays, further artwork and a COC legacy project in January 2023; Cosy Creative.

Artists created poetry, origami, window and canvas art, concerts, films, hangings, books, displays and much more during their time at the hall. Several of the artist have remained working with the venue on its continued legacy and Art Hub.

As one of the selected artists, I had to include this piece as it was important to those around me, and I was given such an amazing opportunity as my first professional artist residency, I created many pieces of artwork in my six months at the hall, and continue to work on the legacy and Art Hub. I created a massive window installation, several Digital images that became canvas that adorn the public areas of the Hall, and painted a cityscape of the Hall in its location with the Bullyard to none side and The Wave waterpark to the other. I wouldn’t have applied to Talking Birds, to create “What Weaves us Together” if I hadn’t had this opportunity, and will be forever in their debt.

With special thanks to Rev. Stephen Willey, Ade Johnson, Nikki Bovis-Coulter, Mark Andrews, Emilie Lauren Jones and Seb Farrell for being a major part of this journey and piece of art.

Ending on a High

One of the final celebrations of City of Culture was performed in Broadgate, in the centre of the city, on the 14th May by Cie Grette Cel. The Awakening was an hour long special event, seen in the round. This was a bombardment of the senses. Using acrobats, gymnasts, musicians as well as incredible structural sets, confetti cannons and an intense sound track, it is hard to create one stationary image to encompass the mood of this piece of performance. 

This image is made up of photos from multiple angles as well as illustrations and photo editing to create the tapestry of the moment should give the viewer a snapshot of the talent and vibrancy that was part of the conclusion of the Coty of Culture year in Coventry

Acknowlwdgements

Thanks you for taking the time to find out more about this project. I was created with funding and support from Talking Birds. I would also like to thank Andrea White Jones, Keith Brandon, Chris Tse and SL Photography for letting me use their photos in this piece. I would also like to thank everyone who organised, participated, performed, created and enjoyed the events featured. There are far to many people to name, so Thank You to everyone.

Author

  • Emily Tyler

    Having studied at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance for my BA (Hons) in Stage Management, I worked within the theatres in London until I moved to Coventry in 2010 and found that I needed other creative outlets. Using Photography I explored my new city and discovered a love of architecture, which led me to start playing with editing software on my iPad, and the use of the Apple Pencil meant that I started creating digital artwork. I joined a local blogging group, to meet new people and rediscover my love of writing which had been lost over the years. I enjoyed reviewing local restaurants, bars, as well as one-off events like coffee festivals and music.

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