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Coventry Biennial starts today: Artwork inspired by the research of The University of Warwick’s Professor Graeme Macdonald on display at The Herbert Art Gallery

Research by the University of Warwick’s professor Graeme Macdonald inspired the piece by artist Paul Lemmon, commissioned by Coventry Biennial – a city-wide art event that starts today. The artwork is now on display in the heart of Coventry in the Herbert art gallery

Memories of a Future City, Paul Lemmon

Entitled ‘Memories of a Future City’ the piece explores imagined future events including the introduction of vertical farms, automobiles without wheels, and the city being declared fossil-fuel-free in 2072.

Professor Graeme Macdonald's research revolves around ‘petrocultures’ and examines oil and fossil fuels' social and cultural aspects. Meanwhile, Paul Lemmon is known for creating 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 have been thrilled to be able to engage in this kind of collaboration with a 'real life' artist. The process has been hugely 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.”

The piece will be shown as part of Coventry Biennial, a major art event for the city. 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.

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. 

Helen Wheatley, Partnership Lead at The University of Warwick’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).

For more information, please contact:
Bron Mills
Communications Officer | Press & Media Relations |


Fri 06 Oct 2023, 12:46 | Tags: art, WIE, Biennial