Coventry Words

Posted: October 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: events, writing | Tags: , | No Comments »

This is a bit late in the day – but the Coventry Creative Writing Team at Coventry University are launching a new magazine for Creative Writing students – Coventry Words.If you can’t come along, visit the website. Or, if you are a creative writer, you can email submissions to

The launch is on Friday 22nd October 5pm – Waterstones – beside the Lanchester Library:

7537-10 Coventry Words Launch flyer-posterv2


Posted: September 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: events, exhibition | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’m always pissed off when I miss something I genuinely want to see – and I missed Jonathan Shaw’s exhibition, entitled Crash, at the New Art Gallery, Walsall. Jonathan, a colleague of mine at Coventry University, has had two exhibitions running simultaneously – one in Birmingham and one in Bangkok. I’ll forgive myself for not getting to Bangkok but I feel pretty shabby about not making it to Walsall. Anyway…

…Crash, was taken at the gay nightclub of that name in London in 2001, as a collaboration with the architect Nigel Coates for his book Ecstacity. As displayed in the top floor gallery at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, it’s a 60-metre long, continuous image which is wrapped round the gallery’s maze-like walls.

Jonathan Shaw - CRASH

Jonathan Shaw

“For me, this is about the scale of the work,” says Birmingham-based Shaw, a principal lecturer in photography at Coventry University. To generate the sense of claustrophobia that you experience in the club it’s important that you can never see it in its entirety. It’s about my physical relationship with the camera as well as the relationship of the subjects to the lens.”

The viewer is surrounded by a heaving mass of over-lifesized naked torsos, with bodies blurring into distortions as though in fairground mirrors, or suddenly snapping into sharp focus. Birmingham Post

I won’t miss the next one. Read more about Jonathan’s work on his website:

Space4 Shorts

Posted: June 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Film | Tags: , , | No Comments »
Click image for full size

Click image for full size flyer

My colleague, Clifton Stewart, is curating the Space 4 Shorts Film Festival in Peterborough this week.

Clifton has written a number of short films and has worked on dozens of projects, including the BBC’s Doctors series. His short film, Moth, was staged at the Cannes Film Festival. As a photographer, Clifton’s work has been selected for a prestigious national touring exhibition, along with other artists from around the world.

Peterborough Today

Special Encore

Posted: May 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: events | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Horace Panter

There was a large-ish crowd for Horace Panter at Coventry University today. He spoke candidly about his days on the road with 2-Tone phenomenon The Specials, and we got the usual rock anecdotes about coke snorting promoters and trashed hotel rooms. I was more interested in what he had to say about the absence of Jerry Dammers in the re-formed line-up (a case of unreconstructed pop-schism) and touring after 25 years (a lot more rest between gigs needed). But despite the candour Horace answered the audience questions about ‘the comeback’ in a procedural kind of way – almost as if he hadn’t quite taken it all in yet.

“Does the band plan to write any new material?” I asked.

“No definitely not. Give them them what they want,” replied Horace.
By that he meant their ready-made audience – the 45-50-year-olds who were into them the first time round – were only interested in a nostalgia trip. They didn’t want to hear new material.

“But what about your own creative needs?” I went on.
Horace said they were immaterial.
“But surely,” I pressed my point, “playing the old stuff has a shelf-life of what, two years, three years max, before you, and the audience, get bored?”
Horace shrugged.
Then John Mair said “so you’re going to be your own best tribute band?” And the audience laughed.

I’m not sure if Horace laughed with them – perhaps he managed a wry smile, but I missed it.

If I had spent the last 20 years teaching art for the local authority and I was offered the chance to emerge from obscurity, to relive the excitement, feel the adulation of thousands of balding middle-aged men, for a year or two, make some bucks (serious bucks), would I take it? Yes, for the balding men alone….! There were guys in the crowd who had been to nine of the 12 gigs the band have done so far this comeback, and I got a glimpse of the fanatical superfuel that all celebrity runs on.

But of all the comebacks over the years, this one has the most significance – I wasn’t that into them in their heyday (Zappa, Gong, Bowie, Can for me) but even then I knew The Specials stood for something good. And when I moved to Coventry I understood they had inspired a whole city if not a generation. That’s definitely worth an encore.