Artists, designers and architects transform shop fronts of Coventry city centre

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Artists, designers and architects transform shop fronts of Coventry city centre
Coventry Phoenix Priding by Adam Nathaniel Furman.

COVENTRY.- Coventry UK City of Culture, Coventry BID and RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) West Midlands revealed the latest artworks and installations to be unveiled as part of the pioneering shop front public art project, The Show Windows.

The Show Windows programme, which is curated by Charlie Levine, invites artists, architects, designers, makers and creatives to take over retail display windows across the city centre, encouraging shoppers, workers and tourists to peer inside.

The installations provide a new way to explore Coventry’s celebrated post-war city centre, including its distinctive pedestrianised precincts and arcades as laid out by master planner Donald Gibson following the devastation of the city during the Blitz of 1942.

Artists and designers Adam Nathaniel Furman and MAMIMU (June Mineyama-Smithson), along with architecture practice, Gensler, are the latest to unveil their works, which take inspiration from the theme of Harmony. Harmony celebrates Coventry as a music city, as well as one where people of all backgrounds have rubbed shoulders and shared cultures. Each shop window design has been commissioned to reflect Coventry and its citizens - representing a rich history and hope for the future.

Architect and designer Adam Nathaniel Furman, known for his distinct and instantly recognizable style and part of the ‘new London Fabulous’ movement, has revealed his artwork “Coventry Phoenix Priding” at The Yard, the premier LGBTQ+ venue in Coventry. His window is a colourful celebration of the spirit of Coventry, a city ever rising from the flames to reinvent, improve and celebrate its citizens. The work’s fusion of colours, shapes and architectural form celebrates the best of British design and Coventry’s transition into becoming a city of colour, as led by Morag Myerscroft’s installation at Hertford Street.

Adam Nathaniel Furman said: “I am a queer British artist of multicultural and multi-religious background who has a deep passion for decorative art, architecture and heritage. My colours, shapes and patterns speak of the joyful mixing together of local context, an exuberant queerness, and an inclusively sensual and direct engagement with visitors of all backgrounds and ages. My show window harnesses this approach for the incredible context of Coventry”

Alongside Adam’s celebratory window is the digitally innovative design work of MAMIMU (June Mineyama.-Smithson) at New Look, Lower Prescient. MAMIMU’s work uses specific colours and movements to trigger optimism in the viewers’ brain. The harmony within her window, “Infinity Doors” is a digital animation of doors opening and closing, inviting audiences to envision going forth on magical journeys through them. When one door closes, another opens to reveal another graphic landscape for us to imagine ourselves stepping into.

MAMIMU (June Mineyama-Smithson) said: “I think this is an exciting time to reset and look ahead. Coventry 2021 clearly understands the power of culture and creativity to move us forward and I am delighted to be part of this amazing force. I am hoping to spread a sense of joy and optimism through my work.”

The first of four commissions by RIBA West Midlands, taking place throughout the City of Culture year has taken over the window if UK City of Culture Shop, is by global architecture and design practice, Gensler. Their window “Cultural Revolution 2.0” is an installation that encourages interaction, playfully acknowledging Coventry’s place as a pioneer in the twin city movement when it created the world’s first pairing with Volgograd (then Stalingrad) in 1942. The work also celebrates the role of art and architecture in Coventry, and their role in in bringing people together in the city, both historically and today.

Tariq Shaikh, Managing Director, Gensler Birmingham says: “It is an honour for Gensler Birmingham to be part of Coventry UK City of Culture and to have been selected amongst the high calibre of architectural practices involved in The Show Windows. We are proud to be a part of a programme that aligns so closely with our own values and commitment as a firm to celebrate cultural diversity.

Forthcoming Show Windows

In August, as part of the next installation series, 5 windows that celebrate Coventry’s creativity will be revealed in the city centre. Created by local artists, these windows form part of the Spotlight series which evolves around creating dynamic and emotional artwork representative of the cultural and local dynamism that exists in Coventry.

September will see the launch of three new windows curated by Charlie Levine and RIBA West Midlands. This series includes London-based artists and curator Sharon Walters, whose art seeks to empower and celebrate Black women exploring identity, beauty standards, race and representation. For The Show Windows, her artwork will form a large scale paper cut that lives in The Belgrade Theatre window.

Jack Foulkes, the second artist creating a bespoke window display, is a Coventry based disabled artist whose work will be on show at Millington Travel. Jack’s art explore an imagined future where the river Sherbourne is filled with frogs. The third window comes from ONE Creative a multi-disciplinary building and design organisation. Following the theme of peace, pause and play, each of these new artworks will encourage audiences and passers-by to reflect, have a moment of calm and consider how to discover joy throughout and beyond the city.

The Show Windows programme was launched with Ben Javens window illustration ‘Cov as Oz’ which adorns several shops in the city centre. Inspired by the Wizard of Oz, Ben has represented the Coventry skyline as The Emerald City - a place of magic, wonder and possibility - just like Coventry for City of Culture.

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