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Students produce thought-provoking response to ARTIST ROOMS’ Anselm Kiefer exhibition in Coventry

A group of students from a Coventry school have produced an incredible response to a major exhibition in the city with the support of a local photographer and filmmaker.


The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is presenting the work of Anselm Kiefer in an exhibition that spans the past 40 years of his practice and includes prominent works dating from 1969 onwards. The pieces are kindly on loan from the ARTIST ROOMS collection which is owned jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and Tate.

Eleven students from Blue Coat Church of England School worked with photographer and filmmaker Jonny Bark to create a body of work inspired by German artist Anselm Kiefer.

The Year 12 students used disposable cameras to take photographs of each other in a woodland close to the school, with reference to some of Kiefer’s work.

The film negatives of the photographs were buried overnight in woodland and were later developed. Additional materials were added, including soil from the woodland mixed with PVA glue.

It has led to a series of semi-abstract, finished pieces that are now being displayed in a gallery next to the Kiefer exhibition under the title ‘The Learned Protocols of Truth’.

Bark, a Coventry University graduate having moved to the city from Thirsk, Yorkshire, said it had been an exciting project to work on.

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed working with the students because this was a really challenging project.

“The themes of disinformation and propaganda that runs through Kiefer’s work are extremely relevant today and it was great to explore that with the students.

“Burying the negatives of the photos they had taken distorted the pictures and, at first, some of them were unsure of the results but once we started to piece together the images and put them in the context of Kiefer’s work, it produced amazing results and the feedback has been fantastic.

“I believe the whole process has had a profound impact on all of the students who have developed as people and as artists during this project.”

He added: “It’s been great to work with the Herbert and it’s a really exciting time to be in Coventry, with UK City of Culture on the horizon.”

Born in Germany in 1945, Kiefer has produced a diverse body of work comprising of painting, photography, sculpture and installation that explores themes of national identity, human struggle and how we cope with our history. Kiefer is described as having an ‘unflinching willingness to confront taboo and controversial issues from recent history, often addressing the legacy of Germany after the Second World War’. 


Brian Scholes, Learning Officer of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, said the students’ response to Kiefer’s work had exceeded all expectations.

He said: “The feedback we have had to this amazing, thought-provoking work has been great. We had a visit from a member of The Courtauld Gallery recently and they said how brilliant it was.

“I would urge people to come along and view this terrific work and take in one of Europe’s leading artists since World War II at the same time as seeing pieces from talented, young Coventry artists.”

This exhibition draws from ARTIST ROOMS, a touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art by more than 40 major artists. The collection is displayed across the UK through a touring programme, supported by Arts Council England, Art Fund and Creative Scotland. ARTIST ROOMS was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments.