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100 days to go: Cultivating cultural connections at Coventry Biennial 2023


The University of Warwick is collaborating with the Coventry Biennial art festival 2023 to celebrate local artists.

The Biennial is an exciting time for contemporary art that heralds the cultural significance of the city and is set to launch this autumn in venues across Coventry and Warwickshire. The festival includes exhibitions, public talks, workshops, and activities that have been visited by a million people since the Biennial began in 2017.

Among the artist and researcher collaborators is Graeme Macdonald, professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick who’s teamed up with local artist Paul Lemmon for Coventry Biennial 2023 as part of a new artistic commission.

Following successful partnerships in 2019 and 2021, the University of Warwick and Coventry Biennial 2023 are excited to announce further collaboration, with the University becoming a key sponsor for the project. The partnership has previously seen researchers work with contemporary artists to create new projects based on academic research.

Professor, Graeme Macdonald's research revolves around ‘petrocultures’ and examines oil and fossil fuels' social and cultural aspects. Paul creates colourful abstract paintings using video disruption techniques, exploring the illusory nature of the digital world and its impact on truth perception. Paul's interest in the digital realm and in science fiction aligns well with Graeme's speculative, forward-thinking work on what life will be like in a post-fossil fuel era.

Professor Macdonald said: "I am thrilled to be able to engage in this kind of collaboration with a 'real life' artist. The process has already been instructive for me, testing the significance and capacity of the speculative mode that my research often turns upon.  

“I'm curious about the ways in which Paul’s work, in form and approach, provides a novel means to think about the green energy transition and to get the public to engage with it in ways different from the speculative projections in scientific reports or environmental papers.”

Ryan Hughes, Artistic Director & CEO of Coventry Biennial commented: "Our work with the University of Warwick on previous Biennials has been really significant for artists, researchers, the communities that they work with, and for our audiences. We're delighted to be building on that past work through a new collaboration that explores what is possible when higher education institutions and cultural organisations combine their expertise.” 

“The collaboration between Graeme and Paul offers impactful opportunities for both of them to understand their own practices through new lenses, but also to produce something entirely new that wouldn't otherwise be possible. 

“At Coventry Biennial we're particularly pleased to have offered this opportunity to an artist based in Coventry, ensuring that local artists are receiving high-profile commissions that support creative and professional development."

Jackie Hodgson, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Warwick commented: “We are delighted to be working with Graeme and Paul in this new commission with Coventry Biennial. Supporting the local creative sector and cultivating strong relationships between researchers and creatives has been a key part of the University’s strategy in recent years, helping to inspire and develop our research in new and innovative ways. This approach is further cemented in our newly launched Cultural strategy.”

Helen Wheatley, Partnership Lead at Warwick University’s Institute of Engagement - said: These collaborations engage new audiences with our research and this important new collaboration will also forge relationships with local people concerned with issues of global importance. Arts, culture, innovation and sustainability are priorities here at the University of Warwick and reflect the aims of our collaboration with Coventry Biennial 2023."


Notes to editors  


This project is funded and co-commissioned by the University of Warwick Higher Innovation Education Fund (HEIF) award and further support from Warwick Institute of Engagement and the Sustainable Cities Global Research Priority (GRP). 

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Bron Mills
Communications Officer | Press & Media Relations |

Wed 28 Jun 2023, 10:39 | Tags: art, Biennial