Coventry’s City Arcade to benefit from additional window art installations thanks to unique partnership with Historic England

Historic England is providing £42,000 of funding for The Show Windows: Reflections and it will focus on City Arcade and the post-war architecture of Coventry.

This will further develop the partnership project between Coventry BID’s, Coventry City of Culture Trust’s & RIBA’s ‘The Show Windows’ art project and Historic England, bringing new opportunities to light for local artists and public art collections as part of the 2021 UK City of Culture program of activities.

The Show Windows campaign is a city-wide art project being brought to life through a partnership with Coventry BID, City of Culture Trust, RIBA and ITV Creates curator, Charlie Levine, throughout 2021/22 and has already seen impactful window artworks appear across the city centre.  One of the project’s key aims is to make art more accessible to the public, bringing it to the streets of the city and allowing people to enjoy and interpret it in their own way, at their own pace.

Historic England is providing £42,000 of funding for The Show Windows: Reflections and it will focus on City Arcade and the post-war architecture of Coventry. An open call for an artist to create a bespoke 2D artwork inspired by the post-war architecture is now live, those interested able to apply here.

Also, later in the year, The Show Windows: Reflections will work with two artists who will be invited to record and document the City Arcade in unique and unexpected ways as part of a micro-commission within the project.

Rather than being provided with a simple brief, the artists are being encouraged to really question the current way space and architecture are recorded, providing their own interpretation of how a memory of a place can be kept alive through alternative ways of collecting and presenting creative information.

There will also be an engagement programme spearheaded by Community Interest Company, Quiet Down There (QDT), who will be working with three local groups to ‘curate’ artworks in and along City Arcade from three public collections, including the Government Art Collection and Crafts Council.  This will showcase a different kind of gallery and bring it to the streets, making it more accessible to the public.

As part of the QDT project, three local engagement artists will also be invited via open call to apply to work alongside these three collections and run workshops in and around the city to enhance the experience and provide access to the artworks on an even wider scale.

 Lyndsay Smith, Hospitality & Retail Sector Support Team Leader at Coventry BID, comments: “We are thrilled to be working with Historic England, alongside the amazing Show Windows and City of Culture teams on this project.  It will be great to see City Arcade come to life with depictions of Coventry’s rich heritage and a wonderful opportunity for visitors to explore this area of the city.”

Ellen Harrison, Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns at Historic England, said: “We’re so pleased to be celebrating Coventry and its post-war heritage with this partnership, especially in such a special year. Through working with artists and local people, we’re putting a spotlight on a part of the city’s unique history and I can’t wait to see the results.”

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director at Coventry City of Culture, added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Historic England for The Show Windows. Coventry has a rich history of crafts, a city of ribbons, watches, bicycles, cars, glass-making and painting, Coventry blue cloth and new materials like Tencel.  Dick Whittington as legend has it sat on one of the many local arts and crafts guilds which have featured in the city since the middle ages.

It’s so great to have the support of Historic England to help share stories of craft past and in the year when Crafts Council celebrate their 50th anniversary, we are delighted to be putting some of their collection on show.  This unique collaboration with Curator Charlie Levine, Coventry BID, RIBA and Historic Coventry will play a vital role in our year of culture and our city’s reset, completely changing the way we look at our city centre spaces.”

The partnership will also enable the team to recruit an Assistant Curator investing in the future talent of the city.  This position will span up to seven months and is integral from a research and content creation perspective.  There will be a call out going live for this role later this month and it will also involve liaison with local partners and researchers, as well as managing the two micro-commissions.

Image Credit: Crowds gather at the foundation stone laying ceremony for Coventry Cathedral on 23rd March 1956. © Historic England Archive. John Laing Photographic Collection.

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