Routes of Our Culture

Emily Tyler reflects on her Nest Residency earlier this year

Since I heard that Coventry was to hold the accolade of UK city of culture for 2022 I’ve been excited.  I’ve found that other creatives have felt that it hasn’t been as positive as it could be.  With the main events heavily weighted towards artists from the rest of the country, creatives have been feeling ignored. They have spoken loudly about this being a missed opportunity. I’m inclined to disagree on this subject, mainly because I haven’t stopped all year, and have not directly been employed by the official channels.

I have been a photographer longer then I’ve been a painter. And my dreadful film photographs did little to document my life or even be in focus. But with the invention of the digital camera, and later the camera phone, like many people I take photos of everything from food, to my child to times out with friends. But mostly I have found that it is a brilliant tool in which to share a unique view through your eyes that is easy to understand.

I created a map of Coventry to root this project to its geological routes. I used colour and texture to transport this image from a tool into a feeling and mood enhancer which reflects the cultural tapestry which I feel represents our city.

This project has been about how the general public are the important audience this year, those people who might not attend a gallery, events or a performance normally. For those that think arts are elitist and unrelated to their life. During these times where our current government is cutting arts funding left, right and centre, it shows that not only is it an important part of everyday life, but a way to build communities, bring money into the city, but something that can enhance your life.

As an artist I always start out taking my own photos, and editing them into the image that I want before I start to draw it paint. With this in mind, I decided I wanted to do a project which showed the peoples view of the City of Culture 2021 by collecting other peoples photos of events.

We are living in an age where language is becoming more visual then ever. People abbreviate words, use a sentence or two to describe a picture, and although I’m a bibliophile, I am first and foremost a visual learner and sharer.

Photo courtesy of Talking Birds

What I thought I needed to support the project when I began at my Talking Birds Nest Residency was space to work, and advice on how to reach the general population within the city.

But I quickly found that although a studio space is useful for creating a large canvas, as a part-time extrovert and general clutterbug, I didn’t actually enjoy being in an empty space on my own. I found that the loneliness was not something that worked well for me. This is possibly because of my dyslexia and my mental health problems.

As part of the residency deal, a mentor was found for me to help me with my social media coverage. Tara Rutledge is an artist and social media guru who currently works for Imagineers within the same building as Talking Birds (Daimler) and is currently working on a “up my street “ project with ArtSpace and embarking on her own art residency with Talking Birds.

The two issues are complicated. Firstly, I need to share more of my work in progress posts, and make it more personal so that people relate to me better. Next I need to post stories more often, to keep my work in peoples’ awareness. Also I need to make my posts more chatty so that they are more understandable and people get what I’m trying to do, and how easy it is to take part!

As part of the career progression part of my social media, the above will generally help, but using the right tags and hashtags will also pull in people who are looking for the type of work I offer. Simple planning of posts and posting at the right times also can help.

All this said, social media is not the only thing I needed to do to be able to promote myself and my project. Media coverage, including digital newsletters was recommended, as well as focusing on certain publications and media outlets locally.

Fingers crossed that all this will help me to complete this project and increase the positive view of the City of Culture. And I hope to get this project displayed in the City Centre in the next few months!

With my mental health problems, I find that I lack physical and mental energy most days, and that being around people and bouncing ideas often helps to lift my mood and productivity.

Once I had my large canvas painted, I decided the best use of my residency time was to pick the brains of the team at Talking Birds on how to get the word out about my project, and how to market myself as an artist.

For my social media, I needed to appeal to two different demographics. The places that might want to commission me and my work, and those people who will share their  pictures with me to show the city as a cultural place open to everyone.

Keep an eye on my social media @emilytylerartist for updates and further projects!

Thanks for reading!

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