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Magical exhibition launches at The Herbert as it builds towards City of Culture

Thirteen Ways of Looking has been unveiled at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, bringing together 13 artists and curators to create a magical experience for visitors.

Magical exhibition launches at The Herbert as it builds towards City of Culture

"Thirteen Ways of Looking is a powerful and pertinent exhibition which presents a montage of perspectives by a diverse group of artists and curators."
Francis Ranford

A new exhibition has been launched at a Coventry art gallery as it builds towards UK City of Culture 2021.

Thirteen Ways of Looking has been unveiled at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, bringing together 13 artists and curators to create a ‘magical’ experience for visitors.

The show, which aims to challenge conventional thinking on a range of issues, includes six new commissions by artists from the West Midlands alongside selected key art works made by members of the Blk Art Group, highlighting its important connections to Coventry including the initial meeting of group members Eddie Chambers and Keith Piper in the city 40 years ago.

Six early career artists from the West Midlands and seven established artists and curators have been selected because of the diversity of their work and their different experiences and backgrounds. The work challenges where art is exhibited and who is being addressed.

The development of the exhibition has included professional development and mentoring for the early career artists, to support and help them create new work, particularly in the current crisis.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri through the New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial.

Francis Ranford, Cultural & Creative Director of Culture Coventry, said: “Thirteen Ways of Looking is a powerful and pertinent exhibition which presents a montage of perspectives by a diverse group of artists and curators. Sylvia has curated a show where themes and lived experiences intersect and intertwine to create something quite magical.”

The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum’s opening hours are normal (10am until 4pm, Monday to Saturday and midday to 4pm on Sunday) although visitors are advised to arrive before 3pm to ensure entry.

All visitors are required to wear a face mask and the venue is required to collect NHS Test & Trace data.

Francis added: “The team have worked incredibly hard to ensure that The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum is a very safe environment for our visitors and we can’t wait to welcome people to this new exhibition.

“We know these have been incredibly tough times for everyone but now, more than ever, art and culture has an important role to play in people’s lives and that is why we were so keen to get this new show open in a safe and secure way for the public.”


About the Art and the Artists:

Hira Butt’s work explores ideologies of gender and cultural dominance, exploring the place of Pakistani women within marital and domestic spaces. Through personal experience and conversations with a number of married Pakistani women, the artist seeks to critique both the wedding day and the life promised that often does not materialise.

Farwa Moledina works with pattern and textile, addressing issues surrounding feminism, faith, Muslim women and women of colour. She is interested in using pattern and textiles to challenge Western narratives and create pieces celebrating Muslim women, focusing on depicting iconic moments from the 21st century.

Andreana Fatta’s research-based practice is informed by Cypriot cultural displacement which she activates through archives; expressing colonisation, war, lost histories and identities. For this work, she will digitise photographs, home videos, letters and literature addressing Cyprus and its complex colonial history. 

Shiyi Li’s work encompasses collaborative performances including contemporary jazz music, multi-screen animation projections, digital media and a live art performance. The work tells the story of a Chinese woman having recently migrated to a Western country, exploring the awakenings brought to her through her experience of entering a new space and location.

Navi Kaur focuses on the migrant experience, specifically around journeys, environment, storytelling and documentary. She explores the lives of her paternal grandparents encompassing their Sikh faith and daily regimes, working predominantly through the processes of digital photography, film and installation.

Matías Serra-Delmar’s work takes references from the raw materials found encircling construction sites in fast-growing cities across the world, to create both indoor and outdoor installations.  For this work the artist will create different site-specific installations in and around the Herbert Gallery. The idea behind this is to break up the exhibition space and “decentre” the spectator from the usual way that the gallery space is utilised.

Keith Piper will be showing THIRTEEN DEAD 1981, created whilst he was a member of the BLK Art Group, in response to the New Cross Massacre –1981 in which 13 young black people lost their lives in an apparent act of racist violence. Arrests were not made and there was a marked indifference by the white population, leading to protests from Black communities.

Donald Rodney (now deceased) will be represented by the work, Autoicon, a dynamic internet work and CD-ROM that simulates both the physical presence and elements of the creative personality of the artist Donald Rodney, who died from sickle-cell anaemia, on loan from the artists’ estate. He will also be represented by How the West Was Won on loan from the Tate. How the West was Won from 1982 was painted when Rodney was only 21 and a student at Nottingham Trent University.  It dates to a time when he was part of the BLK Art Group, group producing work that engaged directly with the socio-political issues of the time.

Roshini Kempadoo will be showing work from Virtual Exiles 1999-2000. This work explores the experiences of persons who have left their country of origin and who are now at ‘home’ in another. Engaging with historical, family and contemporary photographs of Guyana. Kempadoo will also be showing Moove…[s]In solidarity new photographic prints created during the pandemic, addressing both the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement and protests.

Hyphen-Labs will be showing the VR piece NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism using VR to tell stories and centre the experiences of women of colour. Created partly as a response to Black Lives Matter in relation to the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling In the US, the VR work shows Black women as neuroscientists using the domain of the beauty salon as a rebel underground network for a radically new shared system of communication.

Eddie Chambers’s work Deconstruction of the National Front, on loan from Tate, will be shown as part of the exhibition. Chambers was a founder member of the BLK Art Group in the early 1980s. Destruction of the National Front is a direct response to the appropriation of a national flag by a racist nationalist ideology. In the work Chambers makes use of the disruptive connotations of collage and montage to undo the association of the nation with fascism.

Sonya Dyer will be showing Hailing Frequencies Open – focussing on ongoing videos with Black women scientists. Hailing Frequencies Open (HFO), her current body of work, intersects the Greek myth of Andromeda, the dubious legacy of HeLa cells and actor Nichelle Nicols’ pioneering work in diversifying the NASA astronaut pool in the 1970s as the starting point for an exploration of Black female subjectivities within narratives of the future. HFO combines social justice with speculation, fantasy with the political.

Shama Khanna is the creator of Flatness a long-running commissioning and sharing platform. A website that showcases the work of a range of artists, allowing artwork to be seen outside of the gallery space. Shama Khanna will write a critical research piece about the site, looking at the ways in which through deconstruction and disorder it challenges the way audiences predominantly view and experience art within a white cube space.


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