11. Coventry and Electric Wharf

PDF: 1979–1980 Post-War Public Art in Coventry

‘Coventry of Tomorrow, Towards a Beautiful City’, May 1940

Coventry Archives CCA/TC/27/1/6/1

PDF: 2019 Lethaby Diagram

W.R. Lethaby: ‘ART AND WORKMANSHIP’, The Imprint, January 1913

LINK: https://davidpattenwork.com/working-notes-2/

2001–2004 Electric Wharf, Coventry (BPN Architects)

Lead artist to Complex Development Projects and architects Bryant Priest Newman for the design development of a former power station as live/work accommodation and 400 metre canal frontage. 

RICS Awards Winner 2007, RegenWM ‘Vison for Placemaking’ Winner 2007 and ‘Outstanding Place of the Decade’ Award 2010. 

What is obtained from architecture, at all levels, is graduated experience. I would regard this as a fundamental problem. …the attempt to fuse all forms of visual imagery with architecture and architectural concepts. It also poses the question – an immensely important one – of whether the essential act of contemplation of a work is at all possible outside that graduated experience… 

– Peter de Francia: ‘Mandarins and Luddites’, Royal College of Art Inaugral Lectures, 1973

Found Line (EW), 2003

PDF: 2001–2004 | Electric Wharf, Coventry

PDF: 2003 EW Comment

PDF: Electric Wharf | Sense of Place 2007

Robyn Denny 1957 & ‘Icknield Square’ 2002-03

PDF: BPN Icknield Text

2013 Town and Country Planning Association: Improving Culture, Arts and Sporting Opportunities through Planning. A Good Practice Guide

2012 FarGO Creative Village, Coventry, scheme concept (BPN Architects) not realised

FarGO Canopy: Spoking patterns may be radial or semi-tangential. For a normal wheel size and spoke count, semi-tangential ‘lacing’ is used to transmit torque from the hub to the rim. The most common spoking pattern is ‘three-cross’ lacing, where each spoke crosses three others on the same flange of the hub before meeting the rim. The last cross is normally ‘interlaced’ by wrapping the spoke around the one from the other side of the flange.

PDF: FarGO & Culture of Coventry

PDF: FarGO#1_05.10.2012B

PDF: Coventry Inscribed Columns 2017

2009 Red Teapot Day, Herbert M&AG, Coventry


This is really about protection: what do you want to protect; what do you want protecting from; and who or what will offer you that protection? 

I have a theory. It’s not a very robust theory, but hopefully it’s sufficient to start a conversation. My theory states that, as artists, ‘WE ARE ALL LEMONS’.

PDF: 2009 Red Teapot Day, Coventry

PDF: 2009 Lemon Text


…we are asked to sing sweetly, but lie deep in the pile; shouldering the weight of incompetence…struggling for breath denies our falsetto…where’s the gin?…throwing them alive into a boiling vat of great painting, architecture and sculpture would be an added bonus…wreaked careers and ruined reputations…riots…in times of significant change…flux and cracks…artists can be the people that take part in the pushing, shoving, dismantling…on the destabilised times…national tension and uncertainty…I’m into this opportunity…are you not familiar with Toad?  Toad of Toad Hall?…lions are still being led by donkeys…turn on the DVD lest we all forget…move on, to once again trundle out to play at democracy and ensure the grand moats of this jewelled isle are free of duckweed, if not floating duck houses…could it be that petty thieves are the lesser of two evils, the real targets, the financial set, are laying back on their sun loungers thanking the gods of avarice that we, the people, can only comprehend small numbers…the self styled ‘better than thou’ wriggling on the hooks of public ridicule is just the tonic we need to fill the gap between the end of the football season and the beginning of the next Big Brother…time to lay down the remote and for everyone to pull off the socks of those that we push forward to ‘lead’ us and check if they have ‘feet of clay’…when we are asked to perform like Le Pétomane, we will all produce hot smelly air…let’s pretend we’re from the future…and why isn’t there someone who’s responsible?…an economic recession never stopped an eccentric…there is a cultural recession that has been ongoing for quite sometime…a function that will outlast the policy discussions around tables…amongst curators and cultural industrialists…academics…touch upon genuine conversations and the human condition…it’s all about breaking convention, certainly not reinforcing it!…so on with the show and ode to joy!…our generosity is a compulsion and this is manipulated and seized upon by those who know the price of everything and the value in nothing…out of the bag comes ‘ask not what your country can do for you’…we’ve all been taking too much prozac or finding some kind of ironic wonder in ‘Britain’s got Talent’…art without artists, without artworks, and without an artworld…I’m being an artist and therefore generous and optimistic…I am being indirectly asked by others to help the thief that sodomised us like a martyr and to feel generous about it…that I should uphold my moral obligation to society like Clarke Kent without his day job or be asked to sing sweetly while someone has me gripped by the balls…how do artists operate under these statements? How to withhold a sense of dignity?…how can we battle inclement weather without the reality that we need protective clothing?…most importantly, how do we influence decisions made by those who CONTINUE and will always continue to know the price of everything and the value of nothing…if the Arts Council are asking that question, “what can we do to help the country weather and recover from this downturn”, then we can answer it but not through the current dumb procedures and processes, the very ones that put us deep in the pile and unable to breathe or speak at the risk that the apple cart might be upset…someone’s stolen the apples anyway…the physical is in the process of becoming irrelevant…miasmas of super data are amassing in clouds swirling invisibly around and through us, diagnosing what we do, where we go, what we need, planning our next move…the illusion that we somehow ‘make worlds’ will become clear…it is still being worked out exactly how to leech off our credit without the tiresome burden of getting us to create transactions…walking, talking and fucking, exchanging their binary juices in hyper-space…if you took artists to mean, in reductive terms, those who in some shape or form are those who drop their antenna into the gestalt soup and shift ideas about, making them manifest by selection and attachment of them to flotsam and jetsam, in order to relocate them for general consumption…the ‘we are all artists’ statement by Beuys has a greater ring of truth now…ever evolving mutation that is culture, is now being determined by the many, new languages, hybrid images, glimpses of the mundane and the never before published ordinary are circulating like flies around the rotting corpse of the aesthetic dinosaur that once ruled the roost…put your ear to it’s skull and you won’t hear the sea only the fading hymns of high art…bad taste, who says so?…wake up make a world, your world, no permission needed, It’s already being done by millions…pass the fly spray!…I remain in flux…balancing precariously on slightly unknown and sometimes dodgy frontiers…we should be made to think…that wonderful quote from Kafka’s letter about ‘art being like the axe to break the frozen ice around the heart’…I have no problems…I like that…the speed, freedom and direction of the internet and digital technologies become part of the process behind the making of this kind of art and crucially the expanding audience itself…no longer the separation between maker and passive viewer of art now the maker of art is also the dynamic audience ready to interface, and the old style audience becomes the artist, complete with neurosis, faults and desire to be heard…‘immature posturing’ in art exists across art-forms and worlds…perhaps saying something like that is posturing in itself…we are all in-between different practices, including the internet…but at the end of the day I like this struggle, this time…‘closure proposes that we regard the world as open and it is we who close it through our stories’…the search for openness…the avoidance of closure, typifies art in its contemporary sense…a dangling place of ongoing possibilities and openness, which is a difficult but good thing…is the Fourth Plinth, and the most of the web, proving to be like most science fiction and pornography…the beam-me-ups, time-warping ray guns and oddly shaped critters…how many of these sci-fi endeavors, appreciations to “Freak Angles” btw, have any actual substance?…given that the web is evidently hyper-fueled by the grunting and groaning of endless 3 to 6 minute clips of variations on human copulation (script? what script?), should I have really expected more from the varied forms of singular human copulation being witnessed atop the fourth plinth?…but hey, performance art, like any attempt at making art, or even just breathing, comes with its hazards…surface democracy or the British love to queue…the model generally obeys what the artist commands…although many faces will pass through the space of the plinth, is it still the face of the male-artist that pre and post dominates?…middle-class democracy…I watched ‘Question Time’ last night, accompanied by a bottle of Kahlua, Vodka and milk to make White Russians…these people are still discussing the same shite…and are incapable of arriving at any conclusion…falls on deaf ears in favour of gimmick politics, downright stupidity…Trisha Goddard spoke more sense than most…massive Socratic thoughts of what we really all do is sit around and wonder what the hell we are all doing…on a daily basis…an emergency tribal meeting…going nowhere…pretty stupid and pointless…those ‘one truths’ that organisations and parties employ stop the individual from making any dangerous statement…keep the boat afloat…I think partly, yeah…definitely…I don’t know…nothing seems really interesting…I should be a better person…a new way of thinking (and seeing) is imminent…in Brooklyn…leave everything behind at the moment…it made be screw my face up, go ‘pffft’ and feel nauseous…some kind of example precedent on how there can be collective thinking?…it widens the expectations and ambitions of what art can be…a state of collaboration must be established…I would like to see an end to ‘the oversimplification of everything’…this whole thing is more about ripping up these punched cards, isn’t it?…is this aiming to sort wheat from chaff…I’m just frightened of shots in the foot oh…of course, this is a voyage into the unknown…Twats!…’we reap what we sow’…rip it up…I would rather sink on the boat than go nowhere…rip up the art bureaucracies because I can go nowhere at the moment, if I get on that boat and that means I sink, I sink…this is a stupid high risk venture…it’s no way to do anything meaningful (or make a living)…this is not just being grabbed by the balls this is being wrenched by them and having them squeezed with no remorse…stick that in a lemon and shove it up…what do they do anyway, apart from arrange for artists to get pulverised…all we really need is sunshine…I’ll be in a better mood Monday because at the moment it either matters too much or not at all.