A London-based artist with a strong Coventry connection will take up a residency at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum this summer.
Cora Sehgal Cuthbert will explore her connection to the city through the past and present to create an exciting and unique piece of work which will become a permanent part of the museum’s collection.
But as well as her final piece of work, Cora also plans to reach out to communities in the city to host workshops with the aim of ensuring her residency is as inclusive as it can be.
A multidisciplinary artist, Cora’s work explores the intersections between the personal, the cultural, and a universal spirituality/humanity.
Through this exploration, Cora aims to expand her own and the audience’s worldview, to encourage the sharing of stories, and to encourage the recognition of the beauty and love within our own everyday lives.
Specific themes Cora has recently explored include ideas of home, immigration, faith, grief, desire and disability.
Some of these themes will make up her finished piece at the end of this residence at the Herbert.
Discussing the residency and why she chose Coventry, Cora said: “My proposal was to respond to the Peace and Reconciliation collection and the Indian Workers Association collection.
“Half my family are from Coventry – my grandad was the parish priest of Stoke Aldermoor. The other half of the family are from India, they’re Punjabi. Both my Indian grandparents were from what is now Pakistan but during the Partition of India, they were displaced and had to come to Delhi. Years later, when they were married, they moved from India to London but I know lots of Punjabi’s did come to Coventry and the Indian Workers Association was set up there.
“So I want to look at peace and conflict through both of my granddad’s lives as they both had subties to what was going on in Coventry. But I also want to look at the lives of the generations that come after them – my parents’ generations and then people that are in the city today too.”
Discussing what her final piece is likely to look like, Cora continued: “I use any medium available to me apart from painting, and video is one I’m drawn to as it allows me to go really deep and explore everything fully.
“But I don’t want the final piece to be too linear or too scripted – I want it to be more open, explorative and conversational.
“Research is one of my favourite stages so right now I’m researching my family, taking in the Herbert’s collections, exploring the archives and just soaking everything up I can.”
Discussing her planned workshops, Cora added: “I want to be in Coventry as much as possible, understanding the history and finding out about my family stuff.
“But I also want to work with local communities, do some workshops, and I hope that will feed into one element of the final piece – I want to understand the people of Coventry, their everyday lives, everyday conflicts and the resolutions they experience.
“I do a lot of community work anyway so that’s really important to me. I usually work with communities that the art world under-serve. But for community engagement to work, it needs to be reciprocal – I’d like it to be just as beneficial to them as it is to me.”
Cora’s residency is one of several across the country which make up the second cohort of the 20/20 project – the first major public-facing creative commissioning programme of The Decolonising Arts Institute at University of the Arts London – which hopes to challenge and change the landscape of the world of art by directly investing in the careers of a new generation of ethnically minoritized and diverse artists.
The Institute seeks to challenge colonial and imperial legacies and drive social, cultural and institutional change, through creative interdisciplinary collaborations and research-driven projects and partnerships.
Professor susan pui san lok, 20/20 Project Director and Director of the Decolonising Arts Institute said, “We are thrilled to welcome the second cohort of artists to 20/20.
“This is an exciting phase in the 20/20 project – our first eight residencies are already in full swing, and it’s been wonderful to support the deepening development of ideas and relationships.
“We are looking forward to starting journeys with our second cohort of artists, as they delve into collections and help to generate richer understandings of the histories and contributions of overlooked objects and artists in their midst.”
Martin Roberts, Curatorial Manager at the Herbert, said of Cora: “The 20/20 project is a fantastic and welcome concept which hopefully will really help level the playing field in the world of art.
“So I’m thrilled to welcome Cora to the Herbert. She’s a very talented artist with a unique approach. Her links to Coventry are fascinating and I’m really excited to see the work she will produce during her residency.”