Meet Me Under the Elephant: Coventry Counter-Culture and Protest Revisited

Funded by Arts Council England and the City of Culture Trust

In Coventry, meeting under the elephant means congregating below the Coventry Standard. It was installed as beacon and a symbol of strength in unity immediately after the war. It is still there today at the entrance to the precinct from Broadgate and is still used as a place to meet.

With thanks to Arts Council England and Coventry City of Culture Trust for their generous support

Twelve non-artist participants have worked with two artists, Hardish Virk and Adele Mary Reed, and curator Charlie Levine, to move from inspiration to exhibition in response to something happening in Coventry they don't agree with. They have focused on two themes: changes to place/ space and South-Asian counterculture communities.

Through the Looking Glass

Sara has explored a natural space in Coventry that has been, and continues to be, encroached upon by development.

The Sherbourne corridor, once home to a powerful mill as the river moved away from the city and Carthusian Monastary Charterhouse, and towards the Avon river and open countryside, has been historically altered by man's interference.

Railways and roads first changed the open nature of the space and then the city recycling facility was sited there in the post-war era, a large, noisy facility that looms over the trees, pathways and river.

Despite this the area remained a small nature reserve, popular with dog walkers. Now a new recylcing centre, in addition to the current one, and huge as it will take recycling from across the Midlands, is being built.

Sara's meditations explore the effect of the MRF as it is being built and she muses on the future of this fragile natural space in a film of gentle visual persuasion.

Sara has installed prints at Coventry Central Library and produced a zine to accompany the film and exhibition
Sara has installed prints at Coventry Central Library and produced a zine to accompany the film and exhibition Ben Kyneswood
Sara Maycock - Through the Looking Glass

Sara's film accompanies an exhibiton at Coventry Central Library and a zine available at Coventry Central Library.


Spon End Doesn't Matter

This film explores Coventry City Council's decision to cut down historic trees in Spon End, Coventry, on the edge of a conservation area. Local protestors and resident complaints and objections were ignored to make way for a road widening scheme.

Three local people, Terry, Judith and Martina, worked with artist Adele Mary Reed to produce the film, developed using footage from the peaceful protests. The idea was to help protestors use art as an alternatvie way to engage people in their debates.

Art holds a specific position in our culture to help us think and reflect on the stance taken by people - and so, art, added to peaceful protest and legal objections, offers a third way to the group to voice their concerns.

The group premieried the film at Art Riot Collective at FarGo Village, Coventry on Saturday 18th June, with a workshop for people to create placards with messages of protest. A second screening at Albany Theatre in Coventry on June 29th 2022 which will be accompanied with a Q&A.

Spon End Doesn't Matter - reflections on Coventry City Council's decision to cut down trees and widen roads in an era of climate disaster

Spon End Camp (Terry Sandison, Judith Craig, Martina Irwin) and Adele Mary Reed for @PhotoMiners

Protest placards and banners were created by the public to develop their understanding as they watched the film.
Protest placards and banners were created by the public to develop their understanding as they watched the film.

Martina Irwin

Art Riot Collective supported the sessions at their FarGo Village studio
Art Riot Collective supported the sessions at their FarGo Village studio

Martina Irwin

What is a Safe Haven?

Dav Kaur worked with @artriotcollective to produce placards to raise awareness during Refugee Week 2022 of the effect of the UK asylum system on the lives of migrants and refugees. Dav was inspired by artist Peter Liversedge, whose placards about the NHS inspired so many during lockdown.

Dav is a refugee who came to Britain to escapre an abusive marriage. She has spent 18 years fighting for indefinite leave to remain. In this time she has worked continually and her son has gone through the education system. Dav's legal fees have been in excess of £50,000 during this time as she has sought to provide stability for her family. Her long experience of what the government themselves call a 'hostile environment' is a forewarning to new migrants hoping for a quick resolution to their case and provides the energy for her involvement in this project.

Having been inspired to act, Dav is planning a workshop as part of the project with Art Riot Collective and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, where recent migrants and refugees can come and produce their own placards to add to those already created by Dav.

Dav's inital installation - to be added to by refugees
Dav's inital installation - to be added to by refugees Kyla Craig
Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre in Coventry hosts the artwork inspired by Peter Liversedge
Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre in Coventry hosts the artwork inspired by Peter Liversedge

Jason Scott Tilley

Breaking the Chain

The year is 2020. After meditating in the mountains for 10 years, Arglebargle and Foofinanni return to their home town of Coventry, only to discover that Ben's Cookies is gone and Cathedral Lanes is full of fancy chain restaurants. Help them avenge Ben's Cookies by using Foofinanni (smaller puppet) to run amok (knock the blocks over.)

After causing such destruction, Foofinanni and Arglebargle find out that Ben's Cookies was also a chain company and they fly into the sun in shame. There's no way they could have survived is there?

This whimsical look at the dominance of chain stores in cities and the difficulties in understanding their role in society is the work of Tom Edwards, a young Coventrian now interested in a career as a sculptor. His socially-engaged approach raises important issues in a light and playful way, bringing these issues to new audiences.

Tom's sculptures are to be used and can be played with at FarGo Village in Coventry, a space for indpendent shops - just right for Arglebargle and Foofinanni.

Break the Chains - in action at Common Ground, FarGo Village, Coventry

Kate Rosin

Foofinanni
Foofinanni Tom Edwards
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