Coventry Artists; influencers

As an artist and social media enthusiast, I love finding local artist on Instagram as well as in local shops. I have always been an advocate for local businesses, and I am excited to share these brilliant and brave individuals who put their souls out there. Please visit their social media platforms, share their staff, or buy one of their pieces of art! These people are all active now, and are part of Coventry! these are the kind of people who are a reason why we are City of Culture 2021!

Jonny Nicholds

Jonny is 35 and teaches music at a local college, and is part time director of music collective Mustard and Blood. His paintings range from portraits through surrealism and expressionism. He is artist in residence at The Tin Music and Arts, where he creates Album covers, theatre scenery and portraits. He has exhibited at Drapers, in March ’19 and plans his next exhibit in October. He is also part of this year’s Warwickshire open studios.

CovKid

CovKid is a project born to celebrate Coventry design. They aim to provide products that celebrate iconic images of the city both for locals and for visitors in the run up to Coventry City of Culture 2021. They aim to highlight the hidden treasures of Coventry design through the language of graphics. Products include cups and T-shirt.

https://coventrynative.co.uk/articles/covkid-interview-qanda

Katie O

Katie is a versatile artist who offers watercolours and acrylic painting. She has a flair for animals and does alot of beautiful animal portraits and murals. Also a talented sign writer, her work can be spotted throughout the city. She recently created Hopscotches around the city for CoventryBid.

Dynamic Art

Michael Bachelor, AKA Dynamick, is known for his boldand thought-provoking murals. His full coloured work, featuring a deep, but not always obvious message. A figurative painter with a free style that allows him to put emotion into every piece and express passion for life and art on many levels. His work can be seen in the USA, Europe, and the UK. Recent clients include IKEA, The University of Warwick, and Coventry City Council. Meeting people and travelling are his main inspirations, as well as pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with spray paint and marker pen.

Andy Clare

Andy Clare is the creative force behind Spray station at FarGo Village . He specializes in Aerosolgrafia, and exciting form of Spray Paint Art that originated in Mexico in the 1980s.

Etch and Pin

Aaron Ashmore is the graphic designer behind Etch and Pin, Coventry’s monthly pin club which is celebrating its first birthday this month. I love his style, and both his choice in Coventry sites and his love of Pin badges intersect with mine (although most of the pin badges I own are animal or Harry Potter related.) His work celebrates the architecture and public art of the city, as well as insider jokes (“its a batch!” And “sent to Cov”. Below is a link to an interview with Aaron:

https://hellocov.co.uk/local/the-man-behind-the-coventry-pin-badge-club/

There are many many more artists who are active now in Coventry, but these are the people who inspire, and do what I would love to be doing. They are working hard to create images of things and paces they love. I hope my work can inspire others in the future the way these do for me.

This is only part one of my art series. The next part will be about painters, people who use brushes in particular. This will hopefully cover different styles, different subject matters and embrace all paint types! Let me know if you want to be featured, or know someone else that would be great to share!

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Triggers

As someone who lives with complex post traumatic stress disorder, I know that certain things can trigger my survival instincts to kick in. Unfortunately the main thing for me is Stress itself. High pressure situations, being shouted at, making mistakes, letting people down, all which can be avoided to a point, but others that can just jump out at you some days and slap you around the face when you least expect it. This triggers feelings that I’m going to die, I go into fight, flight or freeze, which isn’t understandable within these situations.

I have two more weeks of therapy, left for the time being. This means that I need to weigh up my future, and proceed back into the working world in September, I need to steel myself for potential pitfalls, and look at my options.

I have been off work for nearly a year an a half now, going through Eye movement desensitisation therapy, trying to move the traumatic memories to the right place of the brain. This helps the brain to store the trauma away from easy access. This has been done alongside reframing, which is also called compassionate counselling. This means challenging the beliefs around these events. For me this combo has been working really well. It’s about self worth, responsibility and limits.

Things I have learned about myself;

-Things that happened to me in my childhood are not my fault, that I was simply not nurtured in the way my personality type requires.

-Some events happened because other people made them happen, others happened because people didn’t know the consequences of their actions. Blame is a definite line.

-People make mistakes, and that ok, it’s how you deal with them that defines you.

– Learning to plan in situations that you know are going to be stressful, and have an escape plan for if it goes wrong.

-Mistakes do not equal failure, and does not make me a bad person.

-I need to not take on too much, as I burn myself out quickly, and make sure I get the sleep that I need!

-Don’t jump in with both feet and expect it to be ok (this goes back to the point about planning!)

– Have realistic expectations of myself, don’t take on too much, but also do not underestimate what I can do.

-Plan down time. Make sure that I reward myself with time off, away from being a mum, and away from work. I need time to recharge on my own terms.

– I don’t take to certain types of managers, and am better with firm limits sets (even with a creative situation.)

I have had a lot of self hatred for myself over the years, unrealistic expectations which have led to crashes in my health. I have tried to fight, I have tried to take my own life, and I have run away from many jobs that haven’t gone the way I expected. I need to find myself a part time job to begin with. I have decided to start by creating art stock; paintings, bottle lights, and digital art. These can be sold in September when I plan to start working. I can then have the items in shops, have stalls in craft fairs, and look at stuff for Christmas. This helps me build my confidence, get used to schedules, and do it around my daughters schedule.

So here’s to the next stage of my life. To understanding triggers, to keeping up with self care, and taking baby steps into the world of work. Wish me luck!

My health; an update

I had a really positive few weeks. I have had some really positive things happen with my art, including a local restaurant wanting to use some art on their summer menu.

I then saw my community mental health nurse who has signed me off, meaning he has done all he needs to with me! and knowing that I only have 4 more sessions of EMDR, I am now set to start working again once the summer holidays are over!

This means that although I am still on medication, and will be long term, I am in a position to take baby steps towards getting on my own two feet and getting off Disability benefits!

I would love to go full time freelance, but as I’ve been off work for 18months, I am going to have to put feelers out to see if Anyone wants to hire me. I can do many things, so I can see what people need for me! I can write, do social media marketing, photography, draw, paint, create branding and do administration for people!

The next step of me is to get a body of art work sorted, to get into the ship who would like to stock my work. Then hopefully I can do some fairs running up to Christmas to get commissions, sell cards and get my name out there.

So if anyone would like to book in a piece of art work, or want to pay me fore some work for their site, please contact me to discuss your detail!

Rhubarb and Bramley Gin recipe

Big thanks to D Betts & Son who kindly gifted the rhubarb and Brambly apple used in this recipe!

You need;

  • 5 small Rhubarb stalks
  • 1/2 bramley apple
    caster sugar
    500ml supermarket basic gin
  • Vanilla pod
  • Sprig of rosemary

First you need to wash and trim the rhubarb to get rid of the base and any leaves.

Chop the apple, revive core, stalk and seeds. Chop into chunks.

Cut the rhubarb into roughly 2cm chunks and put them in a large jar with the apple. Sprinkle with sugar. Remember, you can always sweeten it more later, but just use enough to coat for now so you don’t make it too sweet straight away.

Give the rhubarb, apple and sugar a good shake. Once the fruit is coated, add in the vanilla pod and rosemary before giving it a final shake. Seal the lid tightly and leave overnight. This will draw out the water from the fruit and it will reduce in volume. Make sure you keep it in a dark cupboard so that you get a lovely colour.

After 24 hrs, add your gin, and seal the jar back up and give it another shake. 

Leave in a cool, dark, dry place for about 4 weeks and give it a try!

If you want your pink gin to be nice and clear, strain the liquor through a muslin cloth (like when you make jam) over a funnel. But if you want more of a rustic look, pour it straight into glass jam jars without straining!

Serve with more rosemary and your favourite tonic, (I’m thinking Fever Tree Lemon tonic might work rather well) or topped with soda water for a refreshing long drink.

Or you can try one of these cocktails that Chase have come up with!

Gifted: Vegetable box from D.Betts in Coventry Market

D.Betts is exactly how you imagine an old school green grocer. A stall full of beautifully stacked vegetables on green fake grass. They have three stalls in the centre of the vegetable area of Coventry indoor Market, which has long been a favourite place of mine in the city centre. Most of the stalls these days are filled with exotic ingredients, but Betts pride themselves on getting their vegetables from a Cotswold grower, and trying to stick to seasonal produce wherever possible. This is a family business, and I was thrilled to find this picture of the stall in 1988 on their Facebook page!

The Facebook page has a full list every week of what is available on the stall, meaning that you can order your veg in advance, and either pick it up ready bagged up, or have it delivered straight to your house! (When you spend over £10)

I had a long list of items to choose from, and I had decided to check out some recipes before I ordered my box. I must admit, I have been rubbish recently, and have eaten a lot of ready meals and pasta, so was excited with the excuse to be a bit more adventurous with my cooking!

I had to go for Asparagus, as it is so amazing, one of my favourite vegetables. I love it with eggs, or wrapped in serrano ham or simply grilled. It is so easy to cook, and prepare, and although the real season short, I do try and avoid the forced out of season varieties that the supermarkets offer. The asparagus I got from the stall was slim and sweet. I snapped the base of the shaft off (it naturally breaks the tough base off so that you are left with the perfect bit of asparagus, on these it snapped less then an inch off, showing it is tender and young). The hardest bit about asparagus is choosing which way to eat it first!!

Scambled eggs and smoked salmon is a personal favourite, and is even better with the stunning asparagus! I also love it with soft boiled eggs instead of bready soldiers!

Another way I love to eat Asparagus is ribboned. Take a veg peeler, turn it in to ribbons, do the same with a carrot, and add to some rocket. Make a simple dressing of cider vinager, British rapeseed oil, lemon juice and pepper. Dress, and it makes a perfect side for sea bass or salmon!

Another ingredient I was very excited to see available on the stall was Rhubarb. Even more exciting, when I went to pick up my box, I found out that it was grown by the stall owner’s dad! Although the stems were small, they were vibrant red. I will have Rhubarb and Bramley Gin Liqueur this summer (just happens to be the flavour of the Chase summer flavour this year! Here are a couple of ideas for cocktails to be made with it! Check out this link for the full recipe! Click here to to see my recipe!

I could go on and on about my food I’ve made, but I will do one separate recipe posts later in the week. But I just wanted to say how wonderful all the items I recieved were, and how much I got! I was really impressed with not only the produce, but how nice the guy who runs the stall. He was very knowledgable, passionate about his produce, and I had a great chat with him. Definitely an all round wonderful experience!

Drunk Pudding Club

Beer Gonzo opened in 2010 and soon became one of the most talked about businesses on Earlsdon street, for its selection of craft and international beer selection. As the owners had run InSpire for 18 years In Central Coventry, opening a tap room was the next logical step.

The Tap room is a small simply decorated room that can seat 36 people on benches around wooden tables with the small bar at the end. It brings to mind trendy places I’ve been to on the continent which only the locals know about.

This is the third foodie event that Beer Gonzo has hosted, which have all been sold out. There has been a Michelin stared experience in association with The Cross in Kenilworth. Reviewed here by Emma King for Food Covolution. Also they have collaborated with Street, a Pan Asian Bar further up Earlsdon street. They offered a Vegan night.

The business offers other events such as Meet the Brewer, a regular Wine club and Quiz nights where you can win a £50 bar tab. It is always worth booking in advance as the venue is small, and the events are always popular.

This event was run in collaboration with Drapers new Head Chef, Sarah Jenkins and her team. I have been desperate to attend one of these events since the began, but due to the nature of the business, they have always been mid week when I have my daughter. So when Martin organised this one for May bank holiday weekend, I jumped at the chance!

The event started at 7pm on the 5th May, and I went along with a friend who loves her beer, but wasn’t a big fan of desserts. We squeezed onto a bench with people we didn’t know, but soon got chatting. The nature of the place is that you sit with strangers and leave as friends, it is a wonderful community feeling, which is exactly right for the area.

I loved the humour and description put into the menu, you can tell that both Sarah and her team, as well as the Beer Gonzo team had great fun putting this event together!

The first course is described as sweet canapés paired with a White sparkling natural wine from South Africa. There was a moist chocolate brownie topped with salty crispy pancetta. An sharp apple jelly topped with sweet crumble, and a giant chocolate truffle encapsulated in white chocolate with a sparkle of gold. All three were wonderfully executed, looked and tasted divine. Plus the light, citrus freshness with sweet notes of the wine fitted perfectly. It was a very strong start to the evening.

For flavour, the second course won hands down for me. The sweet potato cake, with Chilli Chantilly (a sweetened whipped cream) had a fantastic consistency, and the spicing was fabulous (although no heat from the 🌶, just the warmth from the stem ginger within the cake.) the Gose beer is a sour beer made with salt water and sweetened with fruit (in this case blackberries and raspberries). I will definitely be trying this beer again, as it was my favourite of the evening. The table was of mixed opinion about this course. Some liked the cakes, some liked the beer, but all agreed that it neither sounded or looked like a sweet item. One person likened it to steak tartar with a quails egg creaked on top.

The third course was pecan pie with buckeye. This was our tables favourite course. The pie wasn’t to my taste, and I’m not a big fan of nuts, but I did love the buckeye, which turned out to be very dark chocolate encapsulating smooth, creamy and sweet peanut butter! Think top quality Reeces Cups.

This was paired with a blonde ale brewed with rice, lactose and cinnamon. I would love to say this was memorable, but I cannot remember this one at all. Saying that, blonde beer is generally not my thing so it’s not surprising.

After a not-long-enough break in the evening (as we were all feeling both pudding like and drunk, which was to be expected) we continued the evening with Tres Leche cake, topped with moustache biscochito biscuit. The White Russian cocktail paired with this dessert was amazing. I loved the fact that the used bacon and maple vodka in it, which was a brilliant touch. There did seem to be a gender divide on this course, as the three guys on the table demolished the desert, and myself and the other two ladies devoured the cocktail!!

Course number five was really tough going, as by this point we had eaten a lot of puddings. Everyone (including the cheesecake fanatic to my left) were really struggling with the sheer amount of food we had consumed. There had been an awful lot of cream, and not many fruit based desserts ( which maybe were harder to match?). We also all agreed that we might have enjoyed the full side puddings early in the evening, but by dessert number five, we all wished we hadn’t been so greedy and eaten so much 😂🙈!

I liked the flavour of the cheesecake, as it was zingy, but kind of just nibbled on the chocolate shard, and the chocolate soil while sipping on the Coffee porter (which is just the kind of beer I usually drink.)

It was a lovely surprise to get a drapers voucher!

We were all feeling totally defeated by this point, and when we realised that we still had the cheese course and two more drinks to go, I must admit I was scared!

Both Sarah and Kaush had worked non-stop putting together these impressive courses, and Martin was just as busy getting the drinks out to us! Big live for everyone involved, they really did a brilliant job!

I admit I have a major love for cheese, and I rarely buy it because I can never stop eating it! I have never been a fan of the bland cheddar so when I saw that we had a selection of fine french cheese coming I was ecstatic! And boy was I not disappointed!!

The blue cheese was paired with the barley wine, and the red wine went beautifully with the Epoisses which was one of Napoleon’s favourite cheeses. It is one if my favourites, and the combo reminded me of these crisps! (Please try!!)

These came in my Craft gin club box, review coming soon!

Over all it was a wonderful atmosphere, the venue and staff were brilliant. The night was very indulgent, and I didn’t need to eat till late evening the next day! The quality of food and drink was fantastic but did have the price tag to match. The £35 price tag is well above what I would usually spend on a night out, but the fact I had canapés, 4 full size desserts, and an indulgent cheese board. To drink we got a cocktail, 2 glasses of wine, a barley wine, a porter, a blonde ale and a gose! It was amazing value over all!!

Pic from website of Drapers

In short, if you can get to a future event, GO! If you can get to Drapers to sample Sarah’s food, do it! And if nothing else, check out Beer Gonzo, and get some beer!

All opinions are of my own, I paid for the experience/goods and have not received anything from anyone involved in the businesses mentioned.

Hunger Games in Suburbia

I love the area I live in, it has the perfect balance of city and village life. We have corner shops and small businesses as well as supermarkets to cater for our every need locally as well as the city centre with a 15 minute stroll. We have beautiful parks as well as amenities and community activities. It is a pretty sweet place to live, an it has a housing premium to fit. The demographics are a mix of professionals, families and students due to the proximity to Warwick university.

On Saturday 4th May, Myself, my daughter and a bunch of people from school went to a “Family Fun Day” at Spencer Park.

“Come and join our family fun day in the park. There will be free tennis and bowls (equipment provided), a chance to try some yoga, music by Tantric Saxophone, teas coffees and much more. ”

This event was organised by the committee called Friends of Spencer Park and they maintain the park, pavilion, playground (which they organised the funding for as the area was in desperate need) and it is a wonderful place for kids, gardeners, dog walkers and sports enthusiasts alike. I think they are a wonderful group, and have created a wonderful community space for everyone to enjoy. So I don’t want to bash them or their event, but as a parent, I want to highlight my thoughts on what I witnessed!

Having heard about the recent Easter egg hunt that is missed m, I jumped at the chance to attend the Family fun day, even though the day was a bit chilly and blustery.

After a nice picnic with friends, the kids scampered off to play on the playground and the adults contemplated cups of steaming tea and the lovely cake offerings at the pavilion.

The games seemed to be outsourced to venders who offered cheap plastic toys for easy games like “hook-a-turtle” which pretty much guaranteed a prize with a bit of fun attached. They was a small fair type games. My issues were the prizes. The issue for me was three fold. The first was that the majority of the prizes were weapons. “Police” sets which included a realistic coloured pump action shot gun. Samari swords as well as a Bow & arrow* set. This meant that most of the kids ended up with these items and the place soon decanted into a sea of fighting, kids running round shorting bang, and sword fights. Now I have no problem with kids playing make believe play. I know that children make weapons out of fingers, sticks, fresh air given a chance. But it’s whether this was appropriate for a “Family Fun Day”.

My next issue was the gender divide if the offerings. As a parent of a little girl, I find that it’s a constant battle to let my child not be pushed into the roles that society plans out for her. She plays with dollies, dreams of being a bride and loves pretty dresses and make up. She also loves football, being a monkey and digging big muddy holes in the garden. But the only option for those not wanting, or not allowed weapons was a small gold handbag, or a plastic slinky. Neither if which lend themselves to imaginative play in a park setting.

My final objection to the offerings of these stalls was that everything was plastic. Now I understand that keep toys still are rife in modern life, but as with many things, these are the toys that break, get forgotten and will outlive not only childhood but the life of the adult they become. Now I know how much joy a hunk of plastic shaped like a ball or a baby can bring a child. But these are positive symbols of life, of family life, of team work. The plastic lends itself to the making of complicated shapes and versatile toys. A wooden ball would be dreadful for playing football with, and a leather is expensive but football has long been accepted as a both physical and social part of male life. In the same way a doll is a major part of little girls mimicking their mums, learning about clothing and even learning how to apply makeup. Please can we limit the plastic that is no longer acceptable as it will end up in landfill! Cheap rubbish toys, happy meal items that have a short life that cost our planet far more then the price label placed on it.

What do you think, is this type of item suitable within this setting, or is it just what life is? Is it something you think is fine, or do you object to it for another reason?

* bow and arrows are slightly more acceptable as they are a sports item, and it’s harder to be violent with this toy. But saying that, anyone who have watched or read “The Hunger Games” knows how deadly and scary these items can be!

Message from:

Friends of Spencer Park

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