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  • Writer's pictureFraser Urquhart Media


As part of the UK Coventry City of Culture 2021 programme, Coventry BID have today announced that they are leading on two inspiring new projects – ‘The Show Windows’ and ‘In Paint We Trust’ – both of which have launched their first installations in the city centre over the last week.

Photo Credit, Aaron Law. Artist, Ben Javens.


‘The Show Windows’ project is Co-Produced in Partnership with Coventry City of Culture Trust; Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), West Midlands born ITV Creates curator, Charlie Levine; Historic Coventry; Arts Council and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Featuring local, national and internationally renowned artists and architects, the project will showcase their bespoke artworks within shop windows throughout the city, creating ‘portals’ to other worlds and inviting audiences to discover something new.

West Midlands based illustrator, Ben Javens, has created the inaugural piece of art that will be featuring in the windows of six businesses across the city centre from Thursday 13th May. Titled ‘Cov as Oz’ Ben has re-imagined the Coventry skyline and hidden Sherbourne River as the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz books.

Whilst the project will work across the city centre, there will also be ‘boulevard’ viewing experiences in City Arcade and The Burges, creating areas and places of wonder, and allowing audiences to fully immerse themselves in the artwork on display.

‘The Show Windows’ project will also feature national art and craft collections, including work from Crafts Council which will be loaned for an engagement programme, focussing on various groups in the city.

Photo Credit, Aaron Law. Artist, Ben Javens.

Charlie Levine, curator of ‘The Show Windows’, says: “As someone who was born in the West Midlands, I’m incredibly proud to be working with the Coventry BID team and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on this project. This is a seminal year for Coventry and all eyes will be on the city, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to invite some of the best artists working locally, nationally and internationally to create work specifically for Coventry shop windows.

“The title, ‘The Show Windows’, is inspired by the author of the Wizard of Oz, with these window commissions inviting audiences to take a journey to other places through the artwork. They will be portals to other worlds, inspiring imagination, adventure and hope.”

Ben Javens, Freelance Illustrator, adds: “I’ve been lucky enough to exhibit my work in Coventry before and as such it holds a special place in my heart. With that in mind it was a great honour to be able to have my work seen in the city again as part of the City of Culture and as the launch artist for ‘The Show Windows’ programme.”


‘In Paint We Trust’ will be delivered in partnership with the Coventry City of Culture Trust and Coventry Business Improvement District, led by Street Art Strategy. Local, nationally and internationally renowned street artists will bring Coventry to life with colourful, imaginative and bespoke pieces which will appear in unexpected places throughout the city centre, encouraging people to explore.

One of the first commissions is being delivered with the West Midlands Police Neighbourhood Team in Hillfields. The design for this artwork was created as part of a competition which was run by local Police Community Support Officers in conjunction with primary schools in the area. The brief was based around tackling the topics of bullying, internet safety, road safety and knife crime. The winning artwork is being recreated by the Street Art Strategy team and will appear on a local landmark in the area.

Artist, N4T4, said: “It is a privilege to work on this project to turn the young people’s designs into something positive for the community. It’s great when people can take ownership of their area through street art.”

PCSO Adam Bettison, from West Midlands Police St Michael’s Neighbourhood Team said: “We’re delighted to be involved in the ‘In Paint We Trust’ programme. Working with the children was really rewarding and intuitive – they produced some great artwork. This kind of initiative is a great way or collaborating with young people in our communities and finding out about the issues that affect them. We can’t wait to see it reproduced by the Street Art Strategy Team.”

The second commission has been created by David Speed – a multi-disciplinary artist who illustrates vibrant, playful pieces that he captures as a time-lapse. This is the first Street Art Strategy installation working with a national, London-based artist and it’s David’s first time working in Coventry. His theme for the piece is HOPE, to link in with the City of Culture timeline. David’s work was installed on Friday 7th May and is situated on Coventry University’s Bishopsgate Student Accommodation.

Photo Credit, Aaron Law. Artist, David Speed.

Melissa Smith, Co-Founder of Street Art Strategy, said: “For years other cities have had street art as a large feature of their DNA. It’s time to put Coventry on the street art map, giving more opportunities for local and national artists to work alongside each other to showcase their skills. Over the next year, there will be more artworks popping up in different locations, turning the CV postcodes into an outdoor art gallery.”

Trish Willetts, Director at Coventry BID, commented: “We are absolutely thrilled and incredibly excited to be bringing these wonderful projects to the city as part of our toolbox of recovery for our businesses. It’s time to celebrate everything that’s great about Coventry – from its people and culture, to its shops and nightlife – and these projects will help to shine a spotlight on it all in a beautiful way.

“’The Show Windows’ and ‘In Paint We Trust’ projects will be running across a whole year, so there will be plenty of opportunity for people to come and see the artworks. Importantly, they are also COVID safe projects as people can come and see what we’re doing at their leisure, as restrictions continue to be lifted.

“Coventry BID are currently in the process of working towards becoming the UK’s first Cultural BID, meaning our involvement in these projects are even more special. We will be a city like no other.”

Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director at Coventry City of Culture 2021, commented: “As we open our year as UK City of Culture 2021, we will be throwing a spotlight onto the great art that has been commissioned across the city to bring reflection, hope, joy and humour to our public realm. In Paint We Trust and The Show Windows programmes will be beautiful and transformative public art works, that will put a creative signature through our city centre, responding to architecture, transforming spaces and places and creating new reasons to visit our city.

“Culture is an essential ingredient for our cities. And when businesses work with artists and creative organisations, cities thrive. Being UK City of Culture means that we have a golden opportunity to assist our businesses on the path to recovery from the impact of the pandemic, and working with the Coventry BID team to make sure we create a winning impression, injecting creativity into the city and building civic pride.

“Across the world public art is making a bold statement, promoting the creativity of global cities, the youthfulness of its populations, and creating a more playful environment for workers, residents and visitors. We are so delighted to be working with SAS and Charlie Levine on these programmes and know these artworks will create a real buzz and show off our credentials as the UK’s City of Culture.

Andy Talbot, Coventry BID Chairman, adds: “We are delighted to play a major part in the plans for the City of Culture 2021, as we support our businesses in their recovery. These large-scale programmes demonstrate that business and culture is pivotal in place management, and we are delighted as a city to be leading the way.”

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