Tickets: FREE
Until Sun 23 Jan 2022

Coventry Biennial 2021

Fri 8 Oct 2021 to Sun 23 Jan 2022

The third Coventry Biennial will take place from October 2021 until January 2022 across Coventry and Warwickshire.

Referencing the radical nature of Coventry’s history whilst also signifying a positive way forward out of the pandemic, the 2021 edition of the Biennial is titled HYPER-POSSIBLE. HYPER-POSSIBLE will see more than 50 artists (local, national and international) exhibiting in seven locations across Coventry and Warwickshire, including Coventry Cathedral, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Leamington Art Gallery & Museum, Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, The Old Grammar School and a new gallery for the city, located above HMV Empire Coventry.

The Biennial will open to the public from Friday 8 October 2021. Some event tickets for Coventry Biennial are on sale now and more will be released soon.

Coventry Biennial 2021 is generously supported by Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Image: Luke Routledge, Strange Matter, Installation, 2020.

Photo: Stuart Whipps. Courtesy of Eastside Projects.


Current events

Coventry Biennial 2021: Proof

Proof at The Old Grammar School is a significant group exhibition that responds to the venue’s history as a school, and presents new and radical approaches to education, participation, co-creation, storytelling and narrative. 

Coventry Biennial 2021: House

HOUSE at The Hyper-Lab, a new space above the HMV Empire Coventry is a group exhibition that has a particularly strong connection to the Biennial’s Home and Other Habitats HYPER-PATH, with artists exploring our increasingly complex relationships with the places that we live and dwell in. 

Online: Mothers Who Make Coventry x Coventry Biennial 21 Symposium

A sharing circle, forum of ideas and discussion around inclusivity for mothers and parents in Coventry and in the wider arts community. Contributors will include a founding member of the Mothers Who Make movement, members of the Coventry Biennial team and other invited speakers.
Children welcome. All welcome for this lively discussion on how we can plan for better access and a warmer welcome for caregivers in the arts.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Listening to the Anthropocene

Suitable for all ages

Exhibition open: Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-4pm

Presented as a part of the third Coventry Biennial, Listening to the Anthropocene at Coventry Cathedral is a major exhibition of sound and moving image artworks that explores the ways that field recording and sonic research can help attune us to the shifting state of our planet, at a range of scales.

Newly commissioned and specifically adapted artworks form an immersive sound installation in the Nave of the iconic Coventry Cathedral throughout the duration of HYPER-POSSIBLE.

International artists with relationships to locations that have been affected by climate change present artworks, creating an exhibition that explores the idea that we have moved into a new geological epoch – one that is marked by the impact of human activities on the Earth.

‘Listening to the Anthropocene’ is originally the title of a significant lecture by artist-geographer AM Kanngieser, which maps the range of recent ‘eco-acoustic practices’ used by artists and others from around the world. 

Coventry Biennial is a festival of contemporary art taking place across Coventry & Warwickshire within and supported by UK City of Culture 2021. Expect new work by local and International artists, workshops, performances, talks, tours and much more.
For more information visit:

Image: Ben Rivers, Look Then Below, 2019. Courtesy of Ben Rivers and LUX, London.

Opening times:

The Cathedral

Wednesday - Saturday, 10am-4pm

Due to Christmas, New Year and existing events at the Cathedral the exhibition will be closed: 

14th October; 

10th-25th and 27th November 2021; 

1st-3rd, 11th, 15th-31st December 2021; 

1st, 19th-21st January 2022 (inclusive).

Coventry Biennial 2021: Body as Archive, Archive as Score

Body as Archive, Archive as Score is a research project and exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum reflecting on the local area’s dance history and legacy of artist-led networks, with a particular focus on the work of Cycles Dance Company. This exhibition acts as a starting point for a dedicated research group, bringing together practitioners who take influence from Cycles’ workshop-centric pedagogical format and who will collectively develop ideas and discussions around the role of the archive in artistic practice, the body as an archive within ephemeral art forms and the archive as resource.

Coventry Biennial: Moving on and what would Rosanne say?

Moving on and what would Rosanne say? is a performance by members of Cycles Dance Company. The performance uses the exhibition Body as Archive, Archive as Score: Cycles Dance Company 1974-1982 as a starting point to consider the influence that Cycles has had on the artists’ individual practices.


Previous events

Coventry Biennial 2021: We Bear: Faye Claridge and Dr Anastasia Chamberlen in Conversation

This year, Coventry Biennial have commissioned Faye Claridge to co-create a project working remotely with people in prisons in the UK and US. ‘We Bear’ asks participants to create new artworks inspired by themes around the Warwickshire symbol of the chained bear. She paired two folk art paintings from the two countries, showing different treatments of captive bears. These, as metaphors, provided inspiration for participants to explore personal experiences of incarceration throughout the global pandemic.

Coventry Biennial 2021: TELL ME MORE: Zine-Making Workshop

Join book artist Rachel Marsden for a zine-making workshop, giving voice to story-telling and identity. Using the statement ‘TELL ME MORE’ as a starting point, the first session will guide participants in developing an inclusive vocabulary informed by Coventry Biennial’s themes. This will feed into the making of individual and collective zines and pamphlet-style publications in our second session, with paper and print ephemera, photo printing, photocopying, and printmaking techniques.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Art and Language, Why here? Why then?

In the 1960s Coventry was the birthplace of Art and Language, a group that challenged the status quo of art and art education. Some of their controversial observations and strategies are now seen as commonplace and common sense. Why and how did this internationally significant group start in Coventry? Can we find traces of their influence in the city today? What was their influence on art education inside and outside the city.This day event brings together people with experience of and an interest in this story rarely discussed in Coventry.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Between Sound and Concept: Listening with the CCRU

The Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (CCRU) has seemed to grow in fame (or infamy) with each passing year since its demise in 2003. For contemporary speculative realists, xenofeminists, practice-based researchers and ‘para-academic’ theorists, the group offer the kernel of a genuinely new path for 21st century philosophy and arts research, one that blurs the line between subcultural production and high theory. Yet it is arguably within the areas of sound and music that the CCRU have the most enduring influence. This symposium assesses the potentials and limits of the CCRU’s sonic theory, from jungle and the hardcore continuum through to contemporary sound art.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Mycelial Singing with Jamie McCarthy

In this workshop we will experiment with singing as a fun way to ‘perform’ a tangled fungi network. We will have samples of living fungi mycelium on hand for inspiration. A gentle voice warm-up will lead into simple singing games that explore the idea of layers, networks, and connections, moving, merging, and separating. Have fun and surprise yourself!

Singers of any (or no) experience welcome. Bring a mat, large towel, or blanket to lie down on! 

Mothers Who Make Coventry: How to write an Artist Statement - Workshop with Anneka French

Anneka French is an artist, writer, mother to two young boys and one of Coventry Biennial’s curators. Anneka’s recent experimental writing and poetry commissions include those for Photoworks+, Grain Projects, Fire Station Artists’ Studios, Axisweb, Creative Black Country and Living Memory. She writes regular reviews and essays on contemporary art for publications including Art Quarterly and Photomonitor. In this session we will explore ways to develop an artist statement through group and individual workshop activities. We will explore the nuts and bolts of a statement while looking at ways we might incorporate narrative, anecdote and other creative elements.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Interference:s - Family Friendly Arts and Crafts Workshop

Coventry Biennial 2021: Part of the BLK Art Group Day

Artists in the BLK Art Group (founded in the 1980s in the Midlands) used collage in many of their famous pieces, which involved using found objects and other materials to create new work with a radical message.

What artwork can you make that speaks to the times we are living in today? Or you can respond to the public art commission by Birmingham 2022 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the BLK Art Group first national gathering. What would your public art look like?

Coventry Biennial 2021: HYPER-POSSIBLE CURATOR'S TALK at Leamington Art Gallery & Museum

Join curators Jane Simpkiss and Anneka French for a talk and tour of HYPER-POSSIBLE in Leamington.

HYPER-POSSIBLE (8 October 2021 - 6 February 2022) brings together newly commissioned projects and existing artworks from national collections, creating an opportunity to look back at what has made Coventry and the surrounding area unique, while also reflecting on an increasingly complex global situation.

Coventry Biennial 2021: HOUSE Opening

HOUSE is a group exhibition that explores our increasingly complex relationship with the places that we live and dwell in.

Several artists who are exhibiting respond to the city’s relationship to House music, the venue’s post-industrial aesthetic, it’s cinematic history and the role that the building is hoped to have in the redevelopment of City Centre South. The exhibition brings together newly commissioned projects and existing artworks, creating an opportunity to look back at what has made Coventry and the surrounding area so innovative and creative.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Proof Opening

Join Coventry Biennial for the opening of Proof in the beautiful Grade I listed 12th Century Grammar School, a building that is rarely open to the public.

Proof is a group exhibition that responds to the venue’s history as a school, and presents new and radical approaches to education, participation, co-creation, storytelling and narrative.
The exhibition brings together newly commissioned projects and existing artworks, creating an opportunity to look back at what has made Coventry and the surrounding area so innovative in the field of creative education and production.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Talking About the Anthropocene

A day of talks to accompany the Listening to the Anthropocene exhibition at Coventry Cathedral. Speakers will include artists from the exhibition, as well as writers and academics who are critically engaged with climate change and the concept of the ‘anthropocene’ (which suggests that we have entered a new geological age, defined by the impact of human activities on the planet). There will be a focus on how practices of listening, field recording and sound art can address these issues in useful ways.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Eat Your Words: Growing Mushrooms on Books with Lisa Franklin

Bring an old book that will be eventually transformed into edible mushrooms. Learn how these beautiful living fungi (something neither plant nor animal) decompose organic material (even books). Lisa will take you through the process of growing grey/blue oyster mushrooms in recycled books and start you on your own mushroom growing journey. The workshop will see each participant inoculate a book with mushroom spawn to take away and nurture, eventually producing beautiful edible mushrooms at home.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Phoenix City 2021 + Things Fall Apart

Phoenix City 2021, Duncan Whitley’s new commission for the Biennial, examines the Coventry’s relationship with the phoenix. Stemming from Donald Gibson and Basil Spence’s use of the mythical bird as a symbol to represent their respective town- planning and cathedral proposals (realised in the 1950s), it also examines the hypothesis that UK City of Culture is conceived as the city’s next ‘phoenix moment’. The film is Whitley’s second collaboration with renowned electronic musician Abul Mogard, and also his second time of working with Coventry’s Jaguar Land Rover Band, who also feature in Things Fall Apart.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Wild Yeasts Go Wild with Carolyn Deby

Creative session exploring the wild yeasts in the air, on your skin, and more. These lively fungal beings are at the root of many human processes such as making bread, brewing beer or wine, fermenting food or drink (sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, etc). How does this work? Can we invite the wild yeasts around us to grow and make even more visible their fizzing vitality? What about sourdough starter as a material for creativity? Come prepared to get a bit messy, to taste, and to explore.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Fun with Fungi with Jane Usher and Tina Bedekovic

Find out about the microscopic good and bad fungi that naturally live on your skin and inside your body. Play games, peek at some tiny critters through a microscope, grow your own “skin fungi” palm print on a petri dish. A chance to play and learn, with extra time for questions after 3pm.

Workshop run by scientists from University of Exeter’s Centre for Medical Mycology.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Deliquescence Delight: Making Ink from Mushrooms with Lisa Franklin

Lisa will guide you through the process of turning Shaggy Inkcap mushrooms into ink and then invite you to use this ink for writing, drawing and/or painting inspired by fungi. In the process, find out how inkcap mushrooms emerge as whole fruiting bodies and then gradually ‘deliquesce’ or liquify into a black ink in the process of releasing their spores: a sort of ‘death into new life’ performance. You will take away with you the instructions for creating your own ink from mushrooms and your own writing or drawing/painting.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Beyond the Anthropocene (Parallel State)

The Parallel State is a breakaway state – a space to collectively imagine alternative solutions to life on earth – free from the oppositional constraints of the failed states in which we live. The Parallel State is building new alliances through a series of events, laying the foundations for a Parallel State Summit.

Coventry Biennial 2021: KMRU

Building upon his commissioned sound work for Coventry Cathedral using field recordings of the urban space of Coventry, acclaimed ambient artist KMRU will perform an improvised set in the atmospheric space of Coventry Cathedral’s central nave.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Potluck Lunch: Objects + Rituals

When you walk into a room, you get a feeling. Sometimes it’s the décor, sometimes it’s the light or darkness, sometimes it’s the objects within it; the furniture and it’s arrangement, sometimes it’s the sound we make as our footsteps pass through the doorway, sometimes it’s the sound of a ticking clock, the harsh invasiveness of a TV or radio, sometimes it’s sounds coming from outside – gentle birdsong, exhausts ripping up the peace, sometimes it’s the eyes of the people whose gazes you meet.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Potluck Lunch: From objects of dissent to spaces of communication

In this illustrated talk the artist Gil Mualem-Doron (PhD) will present a range of projects that include those led him to escape police arrest, others he received death threats and other works (sometimes even the same ones) for which he gained prime spots in well-respected galleries such as Tate Modern, Turner Contemporary and Southbank Centre. These include the distribution of Molotov cocktails on Tel Aviv’s high street; a project that proposed replacing the Union Jack (before or after the break up of the Union); a series of anti-racist processions orchestrated in the aftermath of Brexit and a beautiful set of jewellery that on closer inspection tells the story of atrocities in the Occupied West Bank in Palestine.

Coventry Biennial: SOA

A documentary film about soundscapes, silence and noise. But also, ecology, citizenship, equality and urban policies. Raquel Castro’s film examines listening as a catalyst for transformation and sounds that are part of our everyday life places. Through encounters with a wide range of international sound artists and field recordists (including Chris Watson, David Toop, Hildegard Westerkamp, Leah Barclay and Peter Cusack), we explore how the soundscape affects us and how we are responsible for the sound we generate.

Coventry Biennial 2021: Russell Haswell

Born in Coventry, Russell Haswell is a restlessly forward-thinking, multi-disciplinary artist, performer and curator. With a background steeped in computer music, black metal, noise, techno and solo improvisation, his practice is renowned for broaching the extremities of visual and sonic arts. For Coventry Biennial he will present a duo of improvised performances that take inspiration from various forms of extreme music, ranging from Detroit techno to black metal.

Coventry Biennial 2021 x Mothers Who Make Coventry: Feminist Festive Quiz with Amelia Hawk

Join artist, mother and counsellor-in-training Amelia Hawk for a festive feminist quiz. Don’t worry about wrong answers, this quiz is all about taking part! The quiz will be scattered with a dusting of feminism and a touch of motherhood that will warm you up nicely for the festive period.

Amelia is working with refugees and migrants in Warwickshire alongside multi-disciplinary artist Helen Kilby Nelson to create an activity book for Coventry Biennial. Her practice explores connections between art practice and counselling strategies by making new spaces for conversations that aren't afraid, and are happily political. Amelia runs the podcast Otherwise Silent, making space for people and issues that aren’t often heard. In 2020 she started training to be a Counsellor. But above all that she’s a Mum to a bouncy toddler that doesn’t understand the concept of sleeping through the night!