I want to talk to talk about an art trial that was in Coventry during October had term 2020, Coventry Monsters. Throughout the city where eight massive, inflatable monsters in bright colours and bold designs perched up high on buildings for the public to find and admire. The monsters were designed by artists, Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas and were organised by Coventry Council’s event team who are partners on this project.
I think the monsters were fantastic along with many other Coventry residents who got to enjoy them. In October we were in the ‘rule of six’ so I visited with my friends Jen, Rich and Jess and Jess’s mum and teenage son. We visited during the evening once it was dark. The great things that came to my mind immediately was firstly how intergenerational it was, Ben was the youngest in the group at 13 and Nula the oldest (I don’t want to ask her age, she is a lady who has many years of experience behind her). Secondly how well it fitted in with the rules of the time, all the monsters where on buildings that could be viewed from wide open spaces, we could keep 2 meters apart to enjoy them, we didn’t need to go into a venue to enjoy them. It was incredibly accessible as it was free and my friend Sarah pointed out that it was great that you could go at anytime. If you were trying to stay away from people and wanted to see the monsters you could go at 2am – I’d like to know if anyone did go at 2am for a bit of midnight art viewing! You could visit during the day and at night and see them from both perspectives of light and dark. My group was all grown ups, I know people who took their toddlers and young children to see them and they loved them too. The monsters were visually great, big, bold, bright colours in fun, playful designs. Each one was different and a joy to discover. We had a lot of fun that night.
I think they were probably great for the city too. It brought people into the city centre, people might have been tempted to get a take away after or buy a coffee to keep them toasty warm as they went round – I think Jen and Rich went for a drink and dinner after (it’s hard to remember the days that you could go to a pub!) It might have helped build peoples conference back up about going into the city centre after having a long time of not visiting. These are things I’ll have to ask Jon at the council. The monsters were on a trial, this got people walking and gave them some fresh air which is great for their mental health after being inside a lot. Perhaps following the map might have helped some of the children with their geography home work.
It created a great social media buzz, there was lots of pictures on my Instagram of the monsters by fellow Coventry artists and residents. It created a feeling of positivity during the pandemic and dark winter. That feeling of positivity is so important at the moment. As an artist I need to create work that makes people feel great, fills their spirits with happiness and takes their imagination far away from the pandemic.
The monsters has made me think about the distant that people view my work out. I usually invite and encourage the audience to get up close and personal with my work and each other. I had imagined even with not inviting people to touch the installation that comes out of this project that they would stand 2m away from it. The monsters where viewed meters and meters away, the scale and brightness of them allowed for this, at night they were lit up making them fun visuals in the night. The interactive element of the monsters was the trail, having to find all eight of them. I don’t feel overly inspired by trails, I’m more interested in the interaction being directly with the art work. I chatted this through with Jess, my critical friend and we thought a way to do this could be digitally. Could people use their phones to change something about the artwork? The audience could change the lighting and patterns on Janet Elechman’s 1.8 London in Oxford Circus which was part of Lumiere in 2016 (my second favourite light festival, my first favourite is Amsterdam Light Festival because you view it by boat). It could do something like that, let people effect the design, movement or sound of an installation. It could be done with sensors. I should play with these ideas when Lottie next decides to have a big sleep – I should get the tools ready for when the moment comes!