Nesting here since May 2021 with a little help from our friends
We can’t quite believe that we’ve been at The Nest for a year already. The building work happened throughout the pandemic – there were site visits in steel toe caps, hi-vis and masks (thanks Kathi, Jane, Andy & Kieran) – and when we moved in at the start of Coventry’s year as City of Culture, there was still a lot to do to make the space the way we wanted it to be. We painted walls (thanks Emma and Dan), transferred everything from our store (thanks Tom, Josh, Dom & Elliot), sourced second hand furniture locally to upcycle (thanks Mark), collected scrap fabric to make window blinds, and made the odd visit to the Swedish Shop (as it is known around here).
All the spaces at The Nest are named after previous Talking Birds’ projects, so there was also signage (thanks Jack) and keyring fobs (thanks Nell) to make. Since the pandemic meant that there was no theatre to design sets or costumes for, Janet spent weeks sawing, drilling, painting, sewing, mopping and generally making the spaces just right at The Nest – and it was great to be able to get our huge table – made as the stage set for Disorder Contained (thanks Andy & Tim) out of the store – and into use as the main working table in our co-working space, aka We Share This Space.
Gallery of building and decorating:
We filmed a BSL interpreted tour of The Nest (thanks Clare & Rochi) for the website – to show people what to expect; we commissioned some fabulous Nest Bonds from Cov creatives (thanks Janet, Snod & Frances) and had them hand-screen-printed to sell (thanks Kate); we collected our books together to make a proper library and commissioned a beautiful Nest bookplate (thanks Charlie) – and it’s been wonderful to be able to share the books with residents and discuss the ideas they contain.
Nest Residencies & Co-working:
Once we opened the studios, Rosa was our first resident – moving into the Solid Blue studio for a residency in collaboration with Coventry Biennial in July. It’s been brilliant to be able to host Nest Residents in purpose-made studios, and to have them pile into ‘We Share This Space’ (our co-working and kitchen/bar space) at communal lunchtimes – these impromptu conversations about life, art and everything in between have been one of our favourite things about working at The Nest.
We (cautiously) hosted an F13/Green Materials workshop in September (thanks Livvy); a training session on the Difference Engine in December; held our first monthly co-working session in January 2022 to kick off our 30th Anniversary Nestival celebrations; a Board away day (thanks Charlotte, Laura, Sujana, Dan, John, Jack, Jess, Sylvia, Val, Mahendra & Andrea) and the first Nestival of Ideas panel discussion – on Artists’ Manifestos as a vehicle for change (thanks Zed, Dan, Dez & Philippa) – in March.
Another thing we have loved about this year is being able to host events – and there’s been some memorable events, made all the more memorable by coming slowly and cautiously on the back of 18 months of pandemic. What we hadn’t bargained for was all the VIPs and funders who’d also want to come and have a shufty – good job we know where to get the best coffee in Cov (thanks Ed), have mates with an extra-large coffee machine (thanks Julia & Chris) and know where to go for Cov’s best cakes for all dietary requirements (thanks Gloria & Lils).
Ahead of the official opening of The Nest & Daimler Powerhouse on August Bank Holiday weekend (thanks Tom, Steph & Linda), it was lovely to catch up in real life with some of our previous residents and freelance family when we hosted an informal Flock get together. Also up there with our favourite moments is Heritage Open Day (thanks Vimal & thanks Andy for the photos); the deliberation weekend for our Citizens’ Assembly, Art for the People in November which was just fantastic and also involved the opportunity to take pics of The Nest looking pretty in the snow (thanks Mutual Gain, Liz & Buncers); the relaxed yet productive sociability of Third Fridays Creative Co-working Afternoons (thanks Frances); slightly more chaotic devising and rehearsals for Come Bowl With Me (thanks Tom, Adrian, Jack & Aizah); a couple of lunchtime gigs (thanks Sam & Ricardo and Dez, Amy & Simon); a lovely Neighbourhood Creative Hub experiment as part of Coventry Opens (thanks Andrea, Lisa, Daksha, Frances, Charlie & Krissy); and being (mostly) able to say YES to requests for space…
One day, we’ll have a full rooftop edible garden and loads of planting to encourage pollinators and birds to stop over at The Nest, but until then we’re making do with planter-benches (thanks Jess) and windowboxes – and it’s working – pollinators and butterflies have been spotted on the business park, particularly around the kale in flower. The only birds we’ve seen remain pigeons, gulls, magpies and two kinds of wagtail – nothing on the window-feeder yet, but it’s just a matter of time, right?
Residents, visitors & keeping in touch
Thanks to the combination of our new spaces and some additional investment, we were able to host 25 Nest Residencies (and 29 artists) between May 2021 and May 2022. These were: With Coventry Biennial – Rosa Francesca: With Ludic Rooms & Coventry City of Culture Green Futures – Jazz Moreton & Alan Van Wijgerden, Indira Lakshmi, Dion Ellis-Taylor; Hatching Residencies – Sarah Owen, Emily Woodruff, Emily Tyler, Amanda Randall, Calico Theatre, Leanne Moden, Adele M Reed & Paul Daly, Becky Taylor, Andrea Mbarushimana, Sym Mendez; Nestival Residencies – Dom Fleming, Paul Tafaro, Wes Finch, mélissandre varin, Duncan Whitley, Adi Dowling, Sinéad Brady; Remix Residency – Speak Up Theatre; Remote Residencies – Tara Rutledge, Vimal Korpal, Corinne. We ask residents to write a blog post reflecting on their residency – and you can find these on Words from the Birds.
Throughout the year we were visited by Arts Council England, City of Culture delegates, DCMS, the Coventry Society, Outdoor Arts, and Prince Charles (although technically he just passed through Daimler Powerhouse and didn’t actually set foot in The Nest).
We opened The Nest to the public for the three days of August Bank Holiday 2021, two days over Heritage Open Days weekend in September and for City of Culture’s Coventry Opens Event in May 2022 – and if you were one of the hundreds who visited The Nest during one of these events, we’d like to say thank you to you too.
You can keep up with what we’re up to for the rest of 2022 – our 30th Birthday Nestival year – by clicking here to sign up to receive one of our Birdmail newsletters every so often, and by keeping an eye on our What’s On page. If you are a creative practitioner in Coventry or Warwickshire, please do pop in for a co-working Friday, join the F13 network, or apply for a Nest Residency. If you’d like to buy a Nest Bond to help support our work with Coventry artists, or are in the position to be able to make a donation, we’d be really grateful.
Here’s to the next 12 months – and to all those fabulous friends of the Birds whether you got a name check here or not, thank you – we really couldn’t have done it without you!