» consultation work
Talking Birds has been involved in many creative consultations over the years, and arguably many of our site-specific projects could also be re-framed as consultations. We think consultations should always be bespoke, not least because the issues you might want to discuss will often be keenly felt by the people involved, but these projects give an idea of how we might work and structure such a project. Do get in touch if you've an idea for a creative consultation project that you'd like to discuss.
» The Virtual Fringe
The Virtual Fringe was a festival of non-existent events, programmed into unused, underused or unfulfilled buildings and spaces in Coventry. It was conceived as a way of entering into the debate about what makes a vibrant city - and what artists can do to be involved in the discussion and to help that to happen. Alongside the consultation, it was also very much about Talking Birds curating the artists and pairing them up with real spaces to produce their virtual works.
You are the audience for the Virtual Fringe: We ask you to look through this online brochure and imagine your presence at this festival. We ask you to imagine the buzz on the street and to enjoy looking at your city with new eyes. We ask you to imagine your role in realising such a festival, given that Something, like Nothing, can happen anywhere.
"It is a very creative and practical exercise in showing just how vibrant the city could be...How artists can influence the arts policy of their local council is a difficult question to resolve: Talking Birds' independent but engaging approach could be something of a model." [a-n magazine]"
» The Space of Possibilities
A cultural strategy.
Sounds dull, sometimes it is dull, and the process of writing can be even duller. Its impact on a city, though, is huge, or at least it should be. And if it isn’t, then what’s the point of writing it at all?
We wanted to explore a different way of creating, and then presenting, a cultural strategy. We thought a good way of starting would be to ask people who’d never heard of a cultural strategy.
Masterplan was a 3 year project in association with Creative Partnerships in two Coventry schools. It involved a number of investigations, at least one sculpture, 13 sets of school toilets and a mention on (sadly no longer John Craven's) Newsround. You can explore the slightly labyrinthine project website here - look out for the fabulously revamped toilets here, here and here (for starters).
At Stivichall Primary School, the project was very much about transitiion - straddling the period of the ending of one school and the start of another. Initially, Talking Birds worked with years 2 and 5 to investigate the outdoor space of the school site and to create a sculpture that would act as a focal point for parents gathering at the end of the day. We treated this as our 'levelling stone', and made something which echoed the roofline of the existing school building (which was to be demolished once the new school was built), and incorporated objects and lenses through which we would literally as well as figuratively see the school differently.
Talking Birds worked alongside the architects at the start of the design process for the new Stivichall school building, getting pupils and staff involved in looking at the exisiting building with a view to making the most of the site, transferring features that worked and determining what a twenty-first century school might need to be. Once the school was built, we worked with a mixed age group of children to design all the new toilet blocks.
In Finham Secondary School, it was more of a straightforward re-design of existing and badly-vandalised toilets: see the before and after for details! We now hold the view that, actually, the toilets are pretty much the most important thing to get right in a school, because they are the one place where children and young people are unobserved and vulnerable - we could go on, but we wouldn't want to put you off your tea, but if you are interested in a further conversation about this, do get in touch.