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28 October 2014

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Café culture in the heart of the city

Artist Lesley Whelan
Lesley Whelan sitting in front of her work Wyken Pippin in Lloyds
Artist Lesley Whelan tells us about the café commission that made her name whilst researching Coventry’s past.

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Lesley Whelan, an artist based in Coventry, was recently commissioned by Lloyds No 1 Café Bar in the city.

 Coventry Bell
One of the Coventry Bell series
The work involved researching the botanical history of Coventry, and producing three related artworks.

Click the images button below to see a gallery of pictures from this project and other artworks by Lesley and read on to find out all about the artist and her work.

images button

Café commission

 Cofas Tree
Cofas Tree
‘Cofas-Tree’ was the largest of the works made for the café bar, as it was based on the tree Coventry was named after.

Lesley told us about this research: “It was probably a Pedunculate Oak or small-leaved lime tree standing near the centre of the city.

"The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles set out descriptions of parish boundaries by features such as trees.

“It became a landmark, a meeting place, and a living marker post. And the word ‘Cofa’, who or what was this? Maybe a person who lived near the tree. Fascinating stuff!”

Another artwork was based on ‘Wyken Pippin’, a native English apple that has been driven out of the market by more commercial varieties. It is now almost extinct. Examples exist, but are hard to find.

The final piece was called ‘Coventry Bell’, referring to a plant named in old documentation. Nobody knows for sure what it was or is.

Lesley explained: “There’s local debate as to what it may have been. Many people think it may have been similar to Canterbury Bell or Foxglove, some say the Bluebell – all characteristic of this area. My work was an adaptation of all three.”

Name sounds familiar?

 Artwork by Lesley Whelan
Artwork by Lesley Whelan
Before becoming a parent and exhibiting artist, Lesley Whelan taught in a number of Coventry schools, nurturing children’s creativity in the belief that with self-belief everyone can be creative and produce valuable work.

If she taught you, have a look at the gallery and look out for her exhibitions to see what she’s doing now.

Current projects

 Artwork by Lesley Whelan
Lesley's artwork
Until the end of October 2003, you can see a number of Lesley's paintings in an exhibition at the Restaurant in the Park in Leamington. Follow the art in the park link on the left for more details.

Lesley has also recently been made the artist in residence at the University of Birmingham Botanic Garden at Winterbourne.

She hopes to use the year to develop her work, researching the botanical history of the area.

For information about the University Botanic Garden at Winterbourne follow the weblink on the top left.

Lesley will also be exhibiting at The Gallery, Earlsdon from 2 November to 29 November. For further details please contact Satty Sira on 07813 015939.

For more information about the artwork in general contact Lesley on 07762 139438 or send her an email using the link on the left.

All the commission photographs were taken by Dave Webb for Wetherspoons.

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