Blog Archives

New Acquisitions

This original montage by Peter Kennard features Margaret Thatcher and was first published as a New Statesman cover in 1985. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Acquired with the assistance of the Art Fund.

In March we received the latest artworks acquired for the Peace and Reconciliation collection which is funded through the HLF Collecting Cultures programme. This included a collection of works by Peter Kennard and collaborative works by Peter and Cat Picton-Phillipps.

Peter’s work is a powerful response to social and political events around him. It is often based around his wish to express anger and outrage but also inspire positive action and protest. In the 1970s Peter moved away from painting to photomontage which he felt to be a more powerful response to the Vietnam War. His recent works with Cat Picton-Phillips were created in response to the Iraq War and include digital collage.

Peter manipulates familiar symbols and images to force the viewer to ‘see’ the horror and impact of national and international events. This is often combined with humour and sadness. His images have been used on banners and T-shirts and in newspapers and magazines, as part of CND and Labour Party campaigns as well as shown in gallery spaces. He has been exhibiting since the 1970s and his work is held in The Arts Council Collection, Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

We are exploring working with Peter and Cat as part of an exhibition of the Peace and Reconciliation collection in 2012. This might include a solo display of their work within the exhibition and recreating their studio at the Herbert to explore their methods and practice.

Other new acquisitions have included poster works by Michael Peel, also created as a form of protest for display on the streets, and works from the Roaring Girls series by Al Johnson. These sculptures of guns are based on real weapons, but stitched from scarlet textiles and explore the involvement of women in warfare.

Jamal Penjweny, Iraq is Flying, No.7. Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We have also been able to acquire three photographic works from the Iraq is Flying series by Jamal Penjweny, which featured in the Contemporary Art Iraq exhibition at Cornerhouse, Manchester in 2010. The works were made during the artists travels throughout Iraq. Photographing a diverse range of people in very different locations, he asked them all to jump for the camera. There are obvious signs of conflict in the images but they also convey a feeling of joy and hope.



Object of the month – April 2011

Hidden stories – Blitz handbag

Sometimes a museum object stands alone as an engaging painting or a beautiful dress, other times you need to know its story to bring it to life. So when I was offered this little blue handbag, with dried, cracked leather and signs of rust I wasn’t sure what to make of it – until I heard its story.

The donor told me about a night in Coventry during the 1940 Blitz: ‘the sirens went and I got into my siren suit, climbed over the next door neighbour’s fence and into the Anderson shelter. When the bombs dropped I remember the candle going out and my mother screaming ‘that’s our house’. When the raid was over we got out and all our windows had been blown in. But to my horror my friend’s house which was at the bottom of our garden was razed to the ground, this being in Ashington Grove [in Whitley]. I remember seeing one of the dolls in the rubble. My friends were Enid and Andrew Moffat and along with their mother they were all killed; their father lived. It was said that the children and their mother went under the stairs and their father stayed in bed. He gave me Enid’s handbag out of the rubble which I have cherished all these years.’

While the Herbert can not collect every item relating to Coventry during the Second World War, this handbag tells a tale that connects us to the donor’s survival and the loss of her friends. Stories of the Blitz and Coventry’s experience of peace and reconciliation are an important part of the city’s history.

To find out more about our peace collecting project see Natalie’s blog:

You can also add share your stories of Coventry on the Coventry Memories website.

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

The Herbert’s Peace Collecting Project

Themes of peace and reconciliation are of key importance to the city of Coventry. This stems from experiences during the Second World War but continues today through the lives and work of people of Coventry. We have highlighted this in our Peace and Reconciliation gallery and we now want to expand our collections around these themes.

As part of this we are keen to collect stories of war and peace from local people. Together with Coventry Transport Museum we have created a new website where you can add your memories and images around a range of themes and events.

We are also interested in material linked to themes of peace and reconciliation with a local connection, for our collection. This could be banners, badges and clothing from peace demonstrations but also photographs and objects illustrating your personal story. If you have anything you think we might be interested in for the collection, please email Natalie:

Please note we can not accept everything offered. We can not accept any items left at the museum without prior arrangement with a member of staff.


Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to FaceBookAdd to Google BookmarkAdd to RedditAdd to StumbleUponAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Twitter

%d bloggers like this: