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Local communities create collaborative art installation

Local communities create collaborative art installation inspired by Turner Prize 2021 winners

A highlight of Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. Last year’s jury awarded the prize to Array Collective for their hopeful and dynamic artwork which addresses urgent social and political issues with humour, seriousness and beauty.

Between January and April, the Learning and Engagement team at Culture Coventry invited communities, schools, organisations and individuals to take part in the Coventry Banner project, inspired by Array Collective’s social action banners. The aim was to give a creative platform to Coventry wide voices, sharing messages and designs with the city. 

The brief was simple; to share something that you are passionate about, which will be displayed in a public installation at the Herbert throughout the summer.

The Coventry Banner project has been an opportunity to develop a community led project that is inclusive to all. Supported workshops and opportunities for individuals to embrace their banner making in their own homes have allowed participants the freedom to follow their own ideas, thoughts and feelings throughout the creative process.

The precedent was set early on that art skills are not a necessity and that banners could be made in any format and be as simple or as detailed as the participants chose them to be. Banners have been created using a wide variety of mediums, from permanent markers, paint, glue, loose parts, found objects, fabric and even rubbish. Some are designed using simple drawings or written text, whilst other have explored screen printing, embroidery and hand knitting. 

Community Engagement Officer for Culture Coventry, Amanda Haran, who has led the project says, “The spirit of Array Collective coaxed the often quiet and unheard communities of Coventry and Warwickshire to share their passions, fears and hidden selves authentically, honestly and compassionately. I’ve been honoured to witness these stories come to life through a creative process. The banners themselves have nurtured the heritage of Coventry, through provocations from the textile industry in the city, and will pay homage to this as through the display suspended above the jacquard loom in the Herbert’s Covered Court.”

Those involved in making banners have included Grapevine, Art Riot Collective, Escape Arts, Sitting Rooms of Culture, St Oswald's Church, Tile Hill, and many more.

One member of EGO said about her experience with the project, “One lady can’t get out and [she] really wanted to make a banner. She has restricted mobility so said she couldn’t take part, but through a video call I held the paintbrush to the banner and followed her exact instructions. She has completed her banner with her voice and through my hands.”

John Gulson Primary School commented about the project, “Our children really enjoyed themselves and the end products were really creative. It really bought the best out of our small focus group of EAL (English as a second language) pupils and proves that language need not be a barrier”.

The Coventry Banner installation will be on display at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum from Friday 13th May – Sunday 4th September. The museum is free to enter, and no booking is required to view this artwork.

Members of the public are welcome to attend an informal social launch event, between 11.00am – 2.00pm on Friday 13th May. Bring your picnic along and join in with this relaxed event for an opportunity to socialise with some of the communities who have participated in this project and discover more about future opportunities to engage with Culture Coventry.

Find out more about the event by clicking here.