Coventry Society members Christopher Sidwell and Mary Courtney are in the process of creating a Spon End opera, a multimedia production with music and paintings.
The work currently comprises four songs plus a couple of musical pieces. The main one of these is a spooky bit of electronic music called ‘The Hospital’. The intention is to link them with little links in between and to get Town Cryer Paul Curtis to do an introduction.
Christopher says “The work isn’t only a celebration of old Spon End (though it most certainly is that) – it is more a celebration of what it is to be a ‘Coventarian’ – those people born at Gulson Road hospital plus all those ‘Odd Socks’ that have come here from other places wide and far and now feel a part of this wonderful City of ours. The ‘Odd Sock’ was used as music for an animated film that Mary and I made.”
The production includes a focus on the iconic Moira’s Wet Fish Shop in Upper Spon Street.
Christopher explains “The portrait of Moira (Lock) was part of an original installation and hung in the shop doorway as if greeting people ‘back’ to her shop.
“It was based on a photo given us by Moira’s sister Sheelagh Fulford. Along with Moira’s son Joe Lock she attended one of the craft and ‘Junk modelling’ workshops Mary and I ran to generate the sea creatures for the art installation (Moira’s old shop window) where we returned Moira and her sea creatures to her shop once more. We hope to do this once again next March as part of City of Culture.
The ‘Queen Mary’ painting (which features ‘Sponnie’ the mechanical fish which we built in homage to the old clockmakers of Coventry) was included on my 2021 Calendar. Sponnie was built in conjunction with Fablab and the Grapevine. The Spon Spun Festival is organised by Artspace Coventry.
“The Odd Sock’ song was given away as a free CD to a number of our friends at Christmas a few years ago. ‘Mora’s Wet Fish Shop’ itself has just been released on the ‘Ghostown Chartbusters Volume 3’ CD which is available from the Coventry Music Museum and Just Dropped In records at Fargo Village. We hope to complete the work this year and release it as a CD mini-album.”
Christopher adds “Mary and I are currently looking for funding to complete our little project. We need money to run workshops to create the sea creatures for Moira’s shop and also to complete the professional recordings of our little opera. That would not be a huge amount – a few hundred pounds would probably be enough. Many art grants would not be available to us for such a, relatively, small amount and Mary and I are not ‘constituted’ if you know what that means.
“Any sponsors would of course be acknowledged on the CD which will comprise the 4 songs, 2 instrumental pieces and links.” Can you help?
What a lot of talent we have in the Society! We can’t wait to see and hear the finished product!