Fun Factory

Coventry School of Art & Design in the 1980s

The exhibition takes its title from a nickname in the 1980s for Coventry School of Art & Design’s Graham Sutherland Building. The photographs in our new exhibition were all taken by Alan Van Wijerden, he first attended Coventry School of Art & Design in the 1980 to study electronics. Since this point he has been recording Coventry and its people. He found himself in his spare time drawn towards the activities and people on the fine art course.
He began unintentionally documenting the Fine Art course and the lives of the students who were undertaking their studies. As a result, many of the images in this exhibition were taken in and around the Graham Sutherland Building. The images he produced act as a record of the kinds of art and activities that were ongoing at the building, students can be seen in their studios or hanging out together in front of the building.
Van Wijerden was ‘unstoppable’ with his camera, he captures the homes of students, and they give a gritty and vivid picture of what a fine art student’s home looked like in the 1980s. In some of the photographs it becomes clear that some students that he met during his studies roughed it in simple make shift tents or squatting.
The images show a group of students that were politically motivated, and conscious of the effects of the rationalisation of arts education on their own educations. Van Wijerden attended several different marches and protests, either as an observer or as an active participant. In the images that will be on show images on show there are marches for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and a selection of students protesting cuts that were being imposed on Coventry Polytechnic.



Exhibition Images