Last year, we announced our sponsorship of Coventry City of Culture 2021 with part of our investment including support for community projects across the city, aligning with our commitment to building thriving communities.
As a result, we commissioned Warwickshire artist, Andy Farr, to create portraits of residents at our Independent Living schemes and members of the communities where our residents live.
The ‘Portraits of Coventry’ project is a series of 12 paintings depicting the lives of our customers based in Coventry, including those who moved to the city from elsewhere and made it their home.
Pippa Reeve, our Placemaking and Partnerships Manager, said: “Orbit was founded in Coventry and the city has remained our home ever since, which is why we were keen to offer our support to the City of Culture and are proud to be City Champions.
“Improving the wellbeing of our customers is a key theme of our Community Investment strategy, particularly amongst our older residents. This project aims to address feelings of loneliness and isolation amongst some of these residents, and we hope it will also bring different Orbit communities across the city together as participants have stepped forward from across all our Coventry communities.”
The portraits will be exhibited in two venues in Coventry during August, September, and October and at other venues in our communities. Entrance is free to the public at the following locations:
- Broad Street Meeting Hall in Foleshill: Tuesday 3 August until Saturday 7 August, between 14:00 – 16:00.
- Arcadia Artspace Gallery in the City Arcade: Wednesday 15 September until Saturday 16 October, every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday between 10:00 – 16:00.
Both exhibitions will display portraits by Andy Farr and art pieces created by Coventry residents who participated in four online workshops during the Covid-19 lockdown which were organised by Foleshill Creates, a community arts group based at Broad Street Hall in Foleshill.
Andy Farr is an award-winning artist based in Warwickshire with a proven track record of creating and delivering projects that tell the stories of members of the community. Each painting covers the life-stories of ‘ordinary’ people and their memories and experiences in Coventry.
‘Portraits of Coventry’ artist, Andy Farr, commented: “The ‘Portraits of Coventry’ project, is a new series of paintings in collaboration with Orbit, based on conversations with people who live, or have made their home, Coventry. I wanted to celebrate their heritage and memories to address some of those feelings of isolation or marginalisation and ensure that their stories were heard.
“I approached Orbit in early 2020, with the idea of painting portraits of older residents of Coventry. The idea stemmed from a concern that older people might not feel involved in the City of Culture celebrations. Orbit have been brilliant, finding ways for me to contact and talk to their residents during the lockdown, and finding ways to photograph the participants.
“I have been blown away by the variety of stories that emerged from my conversations, from discovering a talented but secret pianist, to hearing about sheltering in the cellar of a pub during the Coventry blitz and learning the City’s vibrant amateur boxing scene in the 70s.”
Daksha Piparia, founder of Foleshill Creates, added: “Orbit approach me last year to deliver a project called Foleshill Creates ‘At Home’, which ran from November 2020 – February 2021. The project used visual arts and storytelling workshops to reflect on the people, places and objects which makes home ‘feel like home’ The workshops asked people to reflect on their ideas and memories of what homes mean to them, in the past, present and future.
“It was a great way of building a sense of community during lockdown, when people were less likely to go out and about. We received some great feedback about how people enjoyed sharing their stories and finding out what they had in common. I am delighted that the pieces produced by the Foleshill Creates ‘At Home’ project, will be showcased alongside Andy’s work. As a keen artist myself, I was also a participant in Andy’s ‘Portraits of Coventry’ project, so I am looking forward to seeing my painting displayed at the exhibitions too!”
Foleshill Creates aims to bring people together to help tackle loneliness, isolation and improve mental wellbeing. The workshops are held every Tuesday at 10:30 and encourage artists in and around Foleshill to showcase their work and skills, by hosting sessions for local people who are interested in developing their creativity.