Thirteen Ways of Looking

An exhibition by Dr Sylvia Theuri, the New Art West Midlands & International Curators Forum Curator in Residence

at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry (2 October – 13 December 2020)

An animation of a butterfly between two heads

Image courtesy Shiyi Li (2020)

The title of this exhibition is inspired by Wallace Stevens’ poem ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ (1917). The thirteen verses of the poem each describe the presence and movement of a blackbird in a different way – creating multiple perspectives and viewpoints of the bird. The blackbird in the poem symbolises the importance of flexibility and fluidity in order to create space for multiple forms of experience, knowledge and understanding.

This exhibition borrows from Stevens’ approach, bringing together existing and newly commissioned artworks by thirteen artists and curators. Their working practices bring forward international, multicultural, multi-faith and feminist perspectives which shift very much like those of the blackbird in the poem.

Thirteen Ways of Looking explores different strategies of resistance that overlap and intersect in the physical spaces of the gallery and digitally online. They challenge where art belongs, where it’s experienced and who is being addressed.

The participating artists and curators are: Hira Butt, Eddie Chambers, Sonya Dyer, Andreana Fatta, Hyphen-Labs, Navi Kaur, Shama Khanna, Roshini Kempadoo, Shiyi Li, Farwa Moledina, Keith Piper, Donald Rodney and Matías Serra Delmar.

An exhibition curated by Dr Sylvia Theuri.

A New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curatorial Residency in partnership with and hosted by Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in association with Coventry Biennial.

Explore the exhibition on Google Arts

Images courtesy Garry Jones

The NAWM & ICF Curatorial Residency at the Herbert (August 2019 – December 2020):

Dr. Sylvia Theuri was appointed as New Art West Midlands and International Curators Forum Curator in Residence in partnership with and hosted by the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in association with Coventry Biennial in August 2019.

Sylvia was selected for the post by a panel of arts professionals through an open call to curators based in and affiliated with the West Midlands. The post was made possible through partnership with the Herbert Art Gallery and International Curators Forum, as part of a New Art West Midlands programme supporting new talent and perspectives funded by Arts Council England. The partnership with International Curators Forum provided professional development support and mentorship for Sylvia, as well as access to international networks and contexts – part of a distinctive professional development package that aims to create pathways into future opportunities for Sylvia and for the artists involved.

At the time of the appointment Sylvia noted: “I am excited to have taken on the role of Curator in Residence and to be a part of shaping the developing arts and culture in the city of Coventry where I live and call home. It is of great importance that we foster the visibility of and engagement with the visual arts to new and varied audiences, by ensuring that visual art spaces are not seen as ‘uninhabitable spaces’ but rather as welcoming and comfortable”.

The exhibition features 6 artists who were part of a cohort of 20 early-career artists selected by ICF and NAWN to exhibit as part of the 2019 Coventry Biennial. Talking about working with those artists to produce new work relating to Coventry, Sylvia says: “I am very much looking forward to working with a cohort of New Art West Midlands 2019 artists to help shape their professional development across the course of the next year towards a new exhibition in 2020”.

Craig Ashley, Director of New Art West Midlands, said: “We are delighted to announce Sylvia’s appointment and look forward to working with her over the next 12 months. She brings a distinctive approach and perspective, with ambitions to support and reflect the region’s very best talent.”




All of the logos for the organisations involved in the project