New Art West Midlands & Coventry Biennial 2019 is the annual showcase for exciting new contemporary art by fine art or visual arts graduates from universities across the Midlands.
Sarah Byrne, 26, from Stafford, who studied a Masters by Research in Art and Design is exhibiting work, Autosave (2018), which reflects on experiences growing up in England being British with an Asian mother.
Her projections use imagery from her mother’s old photo albums of childhood trips to the Philippines to question the events and exchanges that have contributed to a separation in her two national identities.
Twenty artists, all of whom have graduated in the past three years, have been selected to have their work on display at arts venues and historic sites across Coventry as part of New Art West Midlands 2019.
Sarah said: “It means so much to be selected as part of this exhibition, particularly as the International Curators Forum who sat on the selection panel were behind the Venice Biennale’s Diaspora Pavilion in 2017, which was one of the most influential shows that I was able to visit during my time researching for my MA.”
“Doing the Masters by Research has been the perfect course for me to develop my artistic practice in a very independent way. As it’s not a taught Masters, it’s given me the time to be proudly selfish of the focus I’ve put into my own work, and it’s given me the freedom to express that in a way that I felt suitable. The support I’ve had from my supervisor, Jane Webb, has been amazing. She’s spent several hours with me in my freezing studio chatting with me and helping me to find a route through all the strands of thought I was untangling.
As well as my art practice, I now work full time as an Academic Coach at the University of Wolverhampton – a role where I am personal tutor for many Level 3 and 4 students in the School of Art. Taking part in the Masters by Research has solidified for me the value in non-traditional learning styles and environments, and has influenced my pedagogic practice.
“The material exploration of these photographs, taken over 20 years ago, led me to challenge my memories and what I think I could recollect, revealing a degree of overwriting and corruption within memories.
“The work tests the extent to which visibility may act as a metaphor for cultural trends relating to ‘Whiteness’, particularly the proclivity of Western idealisation within South-East Asia. I relate this to my own muddled young memories of feeling tokenised by both sides.”
Over 100 artists applied to take part in the exhibition this year. The selection panel included a delegation from International Curators Forum, including Adelaide Bannerman, Cindy Sissokho and Jessica Taylor alongside Ryan Hughes, the founder and director of Coventry Biennial. International Curators Forum’s highly acclaimed Diaspora Pavilion featured as part of the Venice Biennale in 2017, and has informed the direction of New Art West Midlands 2019 as a professional development programme.
New Art West Midlands x Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art runs from 4th October until 24th November 2019.
Anyone interested in studying at the Wolverhampton School of Art should register for the next Open Day on Saturday 12th October 2019.