Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery and Cathedral are next door to each other, giving us more than enough to fill the autumn galleries day trip without going farther afield (unless you wanted to).
Like most city galleries, The Herbert has an art collection which is a reflection of purchases over many years which combine local interests with making a wide range of high quality art available to everyone. Their Peace and Reconciliation gallery, for example includes the painting by John Piper of the Cathedral in flames, his response to seeing the ruins the day after the bombing of the city and it’s no coincidence that the current exhibition, Coventry Biennial – The Twin, shows a range of contemporary international artists’ insights and responses to globalisation, looking in particular at cities Coventry is twinned with.
The Radical Drawing exhibition came out of Coventry’s history with Courtaulds, and their link with the London art gallery. It brings together Courtauld collection drawings and drawings from public collections of West Midlands galleries and was more than food for thought about drawing past and present – something of interest for all of us who make art, regardless of media and genre.
From the 1940 bombing of the old Coventry Cathedral, came a unique collaboration between architect and artists. Sir Basil Spence commissioned artists including Jacob Epsten, Elizabeth Frink, John Hutton, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland – commissions unequalled for the 1950s? Again, no coincidence that as part of the Coventry Biennial, in the Chapter House they were showing Bosnian artist Šejla Kamerić’s video installation, 1395 Days without Red, about 4 years of siege in another of Coventry’s twin cities, Sarajevo.
An unexpected extra was being in the cathedral when the rehearsal for the evening’s performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius was on – what a wonderful way to escape all the rain that we might all be remembering this autumn for?
Thank you to our trip organisers Jennifer and Jillian Wallace, and to Jennifer, Anne Linton and Karen Worrall for the photos that give a flavour of all that we saw.