Approved: 19.07.2019

mary courtney

Artist, Curator, Digital designer, Film-maker, Project manager

Approved: 19.07.2019

Takes the familiar and barely noticed, and hands it back as something different. This can be by radical re-invention or the bold act of attention. Working fluidly across arts disciplines (drawing, digital, word-play, curation, animation) and venturing into collaboration with film-makers, scientists and members of the public, transformation is the current that runs through. That, and quite often, a sense of playfulness and fun

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  • Location: Coventry, West Midlands

Artist Statement

Takes the familiar and barely noticed, and hands it back as something different. This can be by radical re-invention or the bold act of attention. Working fluidly across arts disciplines (drawing, digital, word-play, curation, animation) and venturing into collaboration with film-makers, scientists and members of the public, transformation is the current that runs through. That, and quite often, a sense of playfulness and fun

Examples: A talking tin of tomatoes. Microscopic chemistry images, never seen before outside of a lab, morphing into beautiful abstract art, displayed on giant digital screens.  A wardrobe brought to a library, becoming a Wordrobe, where clothes have opinions. A moon-brain forms out of neurones. Elements are re-imagined as characters, in a 70 metre drawing, from Hydrogen Hooligan, to Chlorine the Killer Clean and beyond.

“A deep-rooted love of Coventry, of interactive art, and a desire to bring out creativity in others, infuses what I do.” Examples include the Coventry Elephantastic drawing event for 200+ people; co-founding the Facebook Group Sitting Rooms of Culture for people to share their creations (4k+ members) and dreaming up Sponnie, the mechanical fish from Spon End, bringing him from sketch to pink finger-nailed life, with the technicians from Fablab. Sponnie won Visitors’ Choice Award in the Spon Spun Festival 2018.

Currently I'm compiling a trail of the Coventry Grotesque, with a map earmarked for the end of the summer. Later in the year will see the release of a Giant handmade picture book called "To Coventry", with unusual routes to explore the city ... by trunk, by tree, by brute, by blue, by sea, by one, by sun, by demon, by tongue.

CV & Education

Art and Poetry Awards
Spon Spun Festival, Coventry, Visitors' Choice Award 2018
Coventry Drawing Prize (twice) 2014, 2015
Selected for the Birth Rites Exhibition, Media City UK 2014
Cambridge University Poetry Prize (2nd Place) 2011
International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry in Medicine (twice commended) 2010
National Poetry Competition commended winner 2008

Residencies and Fellowships
Random String Digital Art Fellowship with Ludic Rooms, Coventry 2019
Artist in Residence at Nuneaton Library, Warwickshire 2017
Leverhulme Artist in Residence at Warwick University Chemistry Department, Coventry 2016

Selected Exhibitions
Compton Verney, Warwickshire (a 1.5 metre drawing) 2013
Tate Modern (a giant handmade book of illustrated poems) 2014
George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton (7 painting-poems) 2013-2021
The Oculus, University of Warwick, Coventry 80 Chem-Art digital images) collaboration 2016
Lewis Gallery, Rugby  (joint exhibition, showing drawings and ceramic cubes) 2015
City Arcadia, Coventry (Sponnie, the mechanical fish) collaboration 2018
Coventry Cathedral (animation projection) collaboration 2018 and Phoenix film showing, collaboration, 2020
Holyhead Studios, Coventry (poem projected onto a person) collaboration 2018                                            

Education and Work in Previous Lives
For around ten years I’ve been fully immersed in creative endeavours. When I decided to focus in this direction I took a Foundation Art course to seal the commitment to a new life in the arts. From there I have been experimenting and learning with a born again passion. I’ve worked as a nurse, policy analyst, independent researcher, academic in medical sociology, Access Tutor and a Manager in Further Education Colleges in previous lives. Skills from my old lives help with the new. It is natural for me to collaborate, to deliver projects on time and to nurture others. And I love the freedom and joy in creating and co-creating, that my new life brings. 

Distinction in Foundation Art, Coventry University
Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University
PGCE Teaching Qualification, Oxford Brookes University
MA Health Care Research, University of Warwick
BA (Hons) First Class, Nursing (RGN)

Details of Work: 2020-2016


Phoenix. Poetry-film. Collaboration with Tara Rutledge. Funded by Coventry City Council. Shown at a Coventry Cathedral and two West Midlands digital festivals. Cover image for the Coventry Cathedral Facebook Page from March 2020 - currently. Circa 20k views.

Co-founded Sitting Rooms of Culture Facebook Group. Circa 4k members.

Yesterday's Diary: An Anthology of Coventry in Lockdown. 117 contributors from all walks of life selected by author Cathy Cassidy. Led the project from idea to publication. Published by Fairacre Press. Community Funded.

Coventry Made Me. Film about Coventry Creatives. Made with Dana Chis. A collaboration with researchers Vishalakshi Roy and Victoria Barker. Funded by Coventry Creates, University of Warwick and Coventry University


Project Coventry, a Projection-based exhibition. One of 12 exhibiting artists. An animated poem live projection onto a human body. Poem "It was written all over her" by Mary Courtney, with text animation and projection performance by Sherrie Edgar. The Classroom, Holyhead Studios, Coventry. 20 June

Digital screening of The Cullen Jig animation, The Turning Taps animation and the Lips Projection. Curated by Edie Jo Murray. University of Warwick Piazza 19 June

Night off the Tiles. Animation inspired by the Cullen mural in the lower precinct in Coventry. Made with Alan Van Wijgerden

Freedom of Expression. Library Poem. Commission from Coventry City of Culture for the #HumansofCov project. Text of the Poem projected at Fly the Flag for Human Rights Event, A Seat at the Table, Foeshill, Coventry, 25 June 2019.  Poetry-film with Alan Van Wijgerden - Independently funded.

Random String Fellowship, with Ludic Rooms, (Post-Digital Arts). Coventry. Nov 2018 - March 2019 

BBC CWR Culture Club Programme Guest (twice)


Digital Projection at Coventry New Cathedral. With Alan Van Wijgerden. New Year’s Eve

Coventry Artist of the Week, September, selected by Curating Coventry, for an image of Coventry Cathedral

The Grand Tour of the CET. Film animation with Alan Van Wijgerden, with music by Synthcurious. Launch 15th September, Holyhead Studios, Coventry

Sponnie and Friends. At Moira's Wet Fish Shop, as part of the Spon Spun Festival,15 September and City Arcadia Gallery, 5-20 October. Collaboration with Christopher Sidwell, Andrea Mbarushimana, and Marie Sindel and Jack Shuttleworth of Coventry Fablab, along with Grapevine and Moira's family. Winner of Visitors' Choice Award

BBC CWR Culture Club Show. Guest contributor three times in the autumn

Pop Din - Brain-waving animation.  Created with Alan Van Wijgerden. Vimeo. Shown at the CET, Coventry. April

Art Workshops for the University of Warwick. Food and Culture

Art Workshop for Coventry Grapevine, in collaboration with Andrea Mbarushimana. Magical fish-making

Poetry-art workshops for children at Castle Vale Primary, Birmingham. Theme: Protest 


Through the Wordrobe. Artist in Residence and Commission, Arts Council England, Warwickshire Poetry Voices and Warwickshire Libraries, Nuneaton Library

Poems on the Pavement with Spon Gate Primary School (with a drawing and poetry workshop with glitch artist Antonio Roberts)

Spon End Big Draw. Exhibited at Coventry Arcadia Gallery, Spon Spun Festival and CET

Workshops and talks at the University of Warwick, incl Mapping the Imagination for the Applied Imagination module and Academic Mobilities: Snakes, Ladders and Flying Carpets

Art-Poetry Workshops for Escape Community Arts, Nuneaton

The Coventry Elephantastic, Community Big Draw and Neuroscience event, with Professor Bruno Frenguelli and Professor Kevin Moffat from the University of Warwick Neuroscience Department. Earlsdon Library. Funded by the University of Warwick

Conference Drawing: The Intergalactic Cosmic Egg-Ship. Nexus Business


Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the University of Warwick Chemistry Department. A collaboration with Professor Patrick Unwin

Art of the Micronosphere, digital chem-art exhibition, University of Warwick and collaborative exhibition talk at the Herbert, Coventry

The Coventry Mappa Magnificellaneous. Community Big Draw Event, and chemistry public engagement event with Warwick University Chemistry Department. Earlsdon Library

Planet Biscuit: Into the Micronosphere, film with Laurence Campbell and images from Warwick University Chemistry

A Being Objective. Animation-film. Collaboration with Laurence Campbell, with drawings from academics and students at the University of Warwick. Funded by the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning, University of Warwick

Forest of Optics. Film with Laurence Campbell in collaboration with Vasilios Stavros, Laser Lab, University of Warwick

Guest Blogger for Outside In. Verse Reaction and Caption Chem

Abstract of War. Front Cover design and haiku inspired by a scientific research image and collaboration. Chemistry - A European Journal

We Have a Situation Coventry. Role as Community Consultant. Disruptive Media Learning Lab at Coventry University, coordinated by Rachelle Viader Knowles, with Helen Varley-Jamieson

Spirit of Ubuntu Drawing Event. ESRC Festival of Social Science. Manchester Metropolitan University