July 14, 2020

Hidden River for City of Culture, Coventry

riverThe River Sherbourne disappears under Coventry at Spon End. The BBC reported on this in 2015 in 'Tracing the hidden River Sherbourne'

The high rise estate flats right at this point (George Poole House, Givens House, Spon Gate and other smaller parts of the estate) were built in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Locals told us some are due to be demolished in the coming years and replaced. The beauty of this compact area of Coventry lies in the River Sherbourne and its proximity to strips of green areas along the bank.

Okay, so there is a bit of rubbish, masses of Himalayan Balsam etc, but Covid19 has prevented the usual local get togethers in Spring to Love Your River and tidy up the banks, pulling up the balsam before it gets a grip. If you are walking quickly through the estate you might miss the river but locals have a lot to say about how important it is to them. They even wish there was more water in it.

For City of Culture Coventry Creates, Jo Garde-Hansen has been working with Jana Fried of the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University and the photographic artist and educator Jo Gane to test an arts and humanities approach to river regenertion and cultural values of water.

Developing an approach she has used in the River Cole in Birmingham, Gane shoots with the Calotype process from 1841 during the day and makes nocturnal photograms of the flow patterns of the water. Hanging around Spon End at night in the river does raise some eyebrows and interest.

During July 2020 (as soon as lockdown relaxed) we were delivering copies of Jo Gane's artwork as beautifully presented postcards to all the residents of the high-rise buildings and surrounding flats. The kind of photographic images that you would gladly place on the wall, a notice board or generally keep hanging around the home as a reminder that you live in a place of beauty, memory and history, however hidden from view.

Please share images of the River Sherbourne and how you use it with us on Twitter and Instagram using the hastag #hiddenrivercov

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