Three stunning pieces of artwork have been revealed in an historic part of Coventry city centre.
The three works in the High Street Heritage Action Zone of Burges and Hales Street are part of the Show Windows, an ambitious series of unique shopfront commissions co-produced by Coventry City of Culture Trust and Coventry Business Improvement District in partnership with the Coventry River Cultural Consortium.
Three artists were commissioned to animate windows on the Burges and Hales Street on the theme of Green Futures – creating portals to other worlds to inspire imagination, adventure and hope.
The first piece in the area is by Coventry-based artist Ross McCormick, who has created a piece called ‘Sculptural Healing’ inside the window at Cat Ballou. It features a Navy Chair – originally commissioned by the US Navy to ‘withstand torpedo blasts’ – set within a tranquil, reflective garden.
Paper sculpture artist, Clare Pentlow, wanted to create a positive piece about the future in the window of Milk Vintage on Hales Street. She has combined architectural structures and patterns in Coventry with flowers and leaves winding round a central column.
Rachel Taylor has given a nod to Coventry’s watch-making history as well as depicting the city’s shared experience of lockdown through her work ‘Time is of the Essence’, featured at Forbidden Planet on The Burges. The piece is made from 100 per cent recycled material collected through the pandemic.
This is the first project of the three-year High Street Heritage Action Zone cultural programme funded by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered by the Coventry River Cultural Consortium led by Coventry University. The Coventry River Cultural Consortium is a collaboration between Historic Coventry Trust, Coventry City Council, Coventry BID, Coventry City of Culture Trust, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, Open Theatre, Coventry University and the Coventry Society.
It builds on the award-winning recent restoration of the buildings by Historic Coventry Trust in collaboration with Coventry BID and Coventry City Council as the national demonstrator project for Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme. The cultural programme aims to make high streets more attractive and engaging places for people to live, work and spend time.
Craig Ashley, Chair of the Coventry River Cultural Consortium and Associate Head of the School of Art & Design at Coventry University, said: “These intriguing and inspiring Show Windows are just the beginning of a three-year programme of activities and events as part of the Coventry River Cultural programme focussed on Palmer Lane, the Burges and Hales Street. Together the Consortium will co-create the programme to build a new community around the River Sherbourne on Palmer Lane and to support the legacy of UK City of Culture.”
Lyndsay Smith, Business Liaison Manager at Coventry BID, said: “The Show Windows don’t just add a focal point, but help to drive footfall around our city centre, providing added interest for locals and visitors alike. It’s been wonderful working so closely with our businesses and we’re grateful for how much they have engaged with the project. Across the year we have delivered a total of 60 Show Windows, creating memorable and unique pieces of art that really do reflect Coventry, its history, and its City of Culture year.
Cara Pickering, Visual Arts Programme Producer for Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “Now that the official title of UK City of Culture has been handed over to Bradford for 2025, this moment in the Burges feels like a wonderful way to acknowledge the year-long programme that was The Show Windows. It also marks a moment to realise that we can, as a city, carry on bringing art and culture to everyday spaces.”
Coventry Society Chair, Peter Walters, said “This area is an important part of Coventry’s heritage. It was the site of the workshop of John Thornton, creator of the fabulous Great East Window in York Minster.We are delighted with the regeneration that has taken place here, but physical regeneration needs to be supported by cultural activity and we are pleased to be part of an important scheme to bring creativity and culture back into the area.”