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Getting Creative with Sustainability - Artists

As a part of this call we will be linking some projects with local artists that have been involved/associated with Coventry Creates. Wherever possible we will be adding self-penned artist profilesLink opens in a new window to these pages. All the artists involved in Coventry Creates and links to their own websites etc. can be found here

Mary Courtney: visual artist and poet

I'm an award-winning visual artist and poet, living in Coventry and deeply rooted in the city. Much of my work is inspired by what I see around me and what amuses or concerns me, and I move fluidly between artistic disciplines. Drawing, word-play, animation, science-art, digital art and 3D installations.

Recently made the 'Bling Road' (1.5m Square) based on the Coventry Ring Road, out of 3000 pieces of donated bling (repurposed costume jewellery hanging about in the back of drawers), in a collaboration with Karen Johnson. BBC CWR made a video about it which has had over £13k views.

I've successfully collaborated with academics at Warwick previously, in chemistry, neuroscience, public engagement and business. Outcomes included popular art workshops for staff and students, Chem-art images from electrochemistry on digital screens in the Oculus building, and the Cov Made Me film about local creatives. I play a large part in running the Sitting Rooms of Culture Facebook Group which I co-founded nearly two years ago. (5.5k members) and am currently obsessed with finding and mapping green men, grotesques, gargoyles and face-pullers in the city.

I have over 12 years experience in the arts, and bring with me a wealth of practical and collaborative experience from my previous lives in the NHS and education. I'm imaginative, adaptable and responsive to what is needed - and get things done on time. 


My sustainability interests are various and expanding. I am currently working on green men and women animations, based on caricatures of carvings of foliate faces in the city and would love to develop this into some large scale sculptures of green men and women made out of rubbish. In my mask-making and face-making workshops with the public (for instance for the Positive Images Festival) I bring in old cardboard boxes, egg boxes, bottle tops, washed used tin foil etc for people to create with. The Bling Road installation was made from repurposed materials...old bling. I have interests in promoting well being. That was the key reason why we set up the Facebook Group Sitting Rooms of Culture at the start of the pandemic.

Over the years I have designed and led workshops for groups such as Artyfolks and Escape Community Arts, whose remit is to promote wellbeing. A few years ago I made a collaborative poetry film with Alan Van Wijgerden to highlight the dangers of eroding public libraries. One of the visual props for this was a discarded encyclopaedia with water damage. We burnt it and poured fake blood over the pages for shock impact. Repurposing materials. Libraries are vital for wellbeing for vulnerable groups and for helping to pull people out of poverty. I am a long time supporter of public libraries and have run art workshops in many Coventry and Warwickshire libraries to demonstrate my support.

My approach to working with researchers is to listen, look at materials and documents they have, digest, mull, make suggestions, hear their ideas and agree on a way forward together.

Julia O'Connell: textiles

Work includes Visible Maker project warp speed - Textile Society of America’s Symposium, Boston, U.S (2020), Self Portrait - Mother/Service/Voice - Ice Floe Press, Toronto, Canada (2021). Meanwhile - Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, England (2021). Julia is an International Changemaker artist ( Coventry City of Culture Trust and the British Council). She will travel to Morocco in May 2022 to explore natural dye production and sustainable garment manufacturing. In September 2022, she will join quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama for a quilt retreat in Mississippi, U.S.

Julia was the designer and led a team six artists to create the coat for Godiva Awakes (Imagineer Productions) for the Cultural Olympiad, London 2012. She was Artist in Residence at The War Memorial Park, Coventry for their WW1 Commemorations. She is a winner of the Volvo Art & Design prize. Julia received First Class Honours in Textiles at Coventry University.

  2. Pecha Kucha talk re: Linking up vintage treadle sewing machine with code for a live craft performance.
  3. Instagram: @mamajulescov

Julia follows the Slow textile/zero waste movements within her visual arts practice. She creates works from sustainable materials including vintage, gifted and found home dyed plant based fabrics. She grows plants in her Coventry allotment for dyeing cloth and in 2021 germinated, grew and harvested her first batch of indigo – creating MyCoventryIndigo – a new blue for Coventry, ready for dyeing.

Julia regularly holds drop-in Slow Stitch & Breathe workshops – for people to explore mark making through stitch onto cloth. She aligns this work with silent stitch moments, encouraging participants to focus on positive mental health, calm and sociable activities. She also runs eco dye workshops, for participants to create colour from local/home sourced plant- based materials.

Verity Pabla: singer song writer and producer

I am an acoustic and electronic based singer songwriter with a company called I’m Not A Machine Music. I represent catalogue from other artists, producers, and composers via INAMM and work directly with a selection of the recorded music artists for one-off bespoke projects. Artistically this ranges from music in the genres of Grime, Electronica, Acoustic, Soul, and more. Most recently, I brought together a number of music creatives for Coventry Creates 2020 and 2021 research project collaborations, I consulted on and released the Front Room Sessions lockdown album for the Coventry City of Culture Trust, which features 16 diverse artists from around the city, and I have helped to place various recorded tracks onto VICE Media documentaries in the USA.

Mapping Women’s Suffrage (

Say My Name (

Front Room Sessions: The Visual Album - Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 (

I'm Not A Machine | Music Licensing for Media (

I am very open to collaboration and have a particular personal interest in protecting the environment, and health & wellbeing. My work is specific in that I create recorded music and work with others who also write/produce recorded music. I would like to continue exploring research that finds a new ‘voice’ through music, in a manner that sits right with both the researcher(s) and the intended target audience for the artistic output.

I aim to offer opportunities for fellow creatives who may be underprivileged or struggle in some way, whether that’s due to poverty or mental health, because I see the potential in many music based artists and feel a duty to connect them with suitable projects. In that instance I take more of an executive producer role. Another aim, within this, is to bring as close a creative match to the research project as possible.

The collaboration with university researcher can be as close or as hands off as they prefer. Ultimately the making of music is more collaborative between the actual musicians but the lead-up to artistic creation is vital in order to get a clear understanding of the research and what artistic output would be most suitable.

Marius Mates: dancer and choreographer

I am a positive, passionate, and determined dancer & choreographer with over 15 years of experience. My background is in breaking – I fuse this with hiphop and contemporary & experimental dance, delivering captivating indoor & outdoor dance performances and theatre productions, which are at once psychological and celebratory. These often involve other artforms: I have collaborated with visual artists, musicians, film makers, writers and poets.

I have taught classes at Dance Exchange in Birmingham, and am one of the 15 emerging leaders selected by Coventry City of Culture 2021 on their Leadership Development Progamme, and one of the Six Young Creatives involved in the creative development of the City of Culture 2021 Signature Event.

I am a world renowned break dancer, ranking 19 in the world at the ‘Breaking for Gold’ Olympic event in China 2019. I won the Romanian national title at Red Bull BC One, (the world’s most prestigious one-on-one breaking competition), three years in a row (2014-16).

Showreel: opens in a new window

Teaching: opens in a new window

 Addiction: opens in a new window

As part of this project, I would like to focus my work on celebrating mental health and well being. The advantages of dance in exploring sustainability can be the fact that it uplifts and brings positive feelings to people. Dance can also contribute to minimising the street violence, supporting youth and children in connecting with art and dance. Dance in general has a social meaning which allows individuals to share information, learn and socialise.

My style of dance allows me to adapt and change very easily on different times and needs. Dance allows me to free-style, expressing emotions by allowing my body to flow on the rhythm. This is a form of social interaction; it allows me to transmit feelings, ideas and experiences.

Previous research shows that dance has the ability to connect humans and take them back in time. It also helps people express through different forms and enables positivism. This offers better physical and mental well-being.

Through this project I would like to explore how my artform can support mental health and well being post pandemic, and how we can utilise this art form in uplifting and promoting well being.

Emily Warner: audio-visual artist working with performance tactics

I am a Midlands based artist working professionally within the region, with a background in visual-arts and facilitation. My practice encompasses a range of media and processes, drawing heavily upon collaboration and exchange in the work I deliver. Outputs incorporate audio-visual works, text, performance, and live events, and over the recent period of global change, I have adapted my approach to accommodate remote working. I am currently developing work that addresses access and visibility through sound and space, using audio exploration and performance. Recent selected commissions include:

  • Audio workshop programme in collaboration with Anna Horton Cremin and Treescape researchers at Gloucester University
  • Artist-in-residence at Mascnet online Symposium, commissioned by Birmingham City University
  • Coventry Creates 2021 commission working with Dr John MacArtney, Warwick Medical School
  • Rewilding project in Druids Heath, commissioned by Place Prospectors

Links to projects here:

My work aims to explore and illustrate issues surrounding equality and access, with a particular focus on race, class and gender. Through creative experimentation I devise tactics to highlight the ways in which individuals and communities face marginalisation and exclusion in contemporary society. Collaboration sits at the core of my approach, and within research exchanges I apply a range of tools and methodologies. New partnerships start with a period of action research, using creative processes to map and scope material. These include discursive conversation, workshops, and the exchange of materials between collaborators. I am particularly drawn to sensorial elements, whimsical data and incidental material that might sit on the periphery of an idea. From an inventory of references and start points, I then work with visual imagery and drawing techniques to make connections and facilitate links in research. Utilising performance to animate works in new ways, I present alternative openings and pathways through research ideas. A strand of this experimentation involves working with sound, extracting and remixing material, to foster new links and narratives. These creative frameworks are often underpinned by writing processes that enable story telling, creative scripting, and poetic response using word and imagery.

Paul Daly - film

With a changing British landscape at the forefront of my personal and experiential work, I focus on marginalised communities, cultural trades and traditions, the working class, and the effects of austerity through the use of analogue formats in still and moving image. My practice is centred on portraiture in both mediums, with a technical and personable approach that is fluid between the two.

The theme of identity continues to be at the forefront of my practice, this is a constant tension and catalyst for my work. I strive to understand my own nature through collaborating with others as the main subjects of my works. These speak of universal experiences, accessible studies of identity and the diverse complexities and intricacies of life.

Having looked at the various Global Goals being tackled, I feel an affinity with the following:

No poverty, Zero hunger, Good health & well-being, Gender equality, Reduced inequalities, Climate action, Peace and justice strong institutions.

A number of these subjects are already woven into the work I am making (highlighted in bold).

The experience of work with an academic during the Coventry Creates opportunity will aid in its interpersonal and methodical approaches. I also created a short film piece for Warwick University for their Global Research Priority programme in 2015, providing me with further familiarity working and collaborating with the university’s academics. I would hope to again partake in an enriching dialogue over the period of the commission where all those involved benefit, with aims of working towards a finished piece of work or an opportunity to apply for further funding with those I am linked with.

Sherrie Edgar - multidisciplinary

Sherrie Edgar

Sherrie is a multidisciplinary artist creating innovative art films, audio, installation, and photography.

Actively creating works for art projects during UK City of Culture and within the Midlands region includes ‘Visual Album’, ‘The Liberation Film Project’, ‘Radford Bubbles’, ‘Sanctuary of our City’, ‘Creative European Programme’, ‘Paralympics Heritage Light Ceremony’, ‘Art of Place’, ‘Outside In Featured Artist month’, ‘Emerging from Lockdown’, ‘Coventry Creates’, ‘Moving Our Futures (Our Future Moves’, ‘Walking Forest’ and ‘House is a Feeling’.

Future works include ‘Eco-Friendliness’ installation in Coventry for Positive Images, ‘International Changemaker’ film for City of Culture, ‘Mixed Rage - Unapologetically Other’ exhibition in Birmingham for MAC.

Sherrie explores loneliness and the social politics of isolation, youth culture, feminism and mixed heritage widening ideas and thoughts about our human conditions. This includes research with microbiologist Dr Jan-Ulrich Kreft , architect John Prevc, biopsychologists Dr Sarah Jane Charles, author Dr Khursheed Wadia, professor Anne Coufopoulos, previously and currently working with Ian Sergeant, Tess Radcliffe, Adrian Dowling, Dominique Nok and Josephine Reichert.