Urban Mining | Martin Green, Katrin Hanusch, HelenA Pritchard, Katie Surridge and David Rickard

Martin Green, Katrin Hanusch, HelenA Pritchard, Katie Surridge and David Rickard
Coventry University’s Delia Derbyshire Building, Cox St, CV1 5PH


An exhibition of works that revalue and reform the material fabric of our urban environment.

To reimagine and elevate the discarded through the creative act is not new. Spolia, stones taken from an old structure and repurposed for new construction or decorative purposes, has occurred since antiquity. Visual artists have a long tradition of using found objects, from Picasso to the pioneering found object sculptures of German and French Dada artists like Duchamp, Minimalists such as Carl Andre and the conceptual art of Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin, to name but a few from the Western context. Today however, the work of artists in the space takes on an added urgency. Exhausted by the hyper-consumerism of Capitalism, we are also living in a world whose virgin resources are being extract at a rate far exceeding that which it can sustain. The artworks on display in this exhibition are a cathartic reminder of the power of creative thinking and the creative act to reignite the value and life in that which is no longer seen, to nudge something that already exists so that the world and our connections to it shows up more vividly.

At once sculptures in their own right, the works on display can also be imagined as maquettes; creative approaches that can be scaled. Occasioned to run concurrently with a Research Test Lab exploring the integration of public art using Urban Mining Design philosophies into the development of new circular economy models within regeneration, these artists offer us ways to reimagine and re-see the anthropogenic materials of our built environment, reminding us of their latent power. Through the lens of sculpture, these valuable materials destined for landfill can have a new life, connecting us to place, as well as supporting climate initiatives and circular sustainable practices.

Martin Green
Coventry-based Martin Green’s abstract assemblages are a direct response to his research of City Arcade (within the City Centre South redevelopment area). Precariously balanced, the resulting fragile assemblages rest somewhere between chance and intentionality. Martin’s sculptures operate as three-dimensional archives. Formal concerns give shape to the strong historical narratives inherent in the archive of images he collages to the surfaces of his forms and the discarded/disregarded objects he uses. A series of 10, we are exhibiting Arcade Box 6; Getting Accustomed To the Lack of Light. This includes collaged photographs from his documentation of City Arcade, turned into photocopies. Those selected depict the entrance mat to gentleman’s club, Heat, encrusted in discarded chewing gum; a skein of Mercia wool from the wool shop on site; five long thin windows at the rear of the original Rover showroom and the Arcade skylight, as well as part of a map detailing the priority bombing sites for the destruction of Coventry.

HelenA Pritchard
Working with discarded, found and off-cut materials, HelenA Pritchard creates an abstract perspective on societies’ imperfections. She is interested in the transcendence of materials, creating new forms through the art of aesthetic balance. Free Form; Can You Handle It is an amalgamation of the detritus and discarded materials from systems and rituals of the unimportant and our everyday urban environment. Discarded insulation foam; broken handles and tea pot spouts collected/mined from the Edwardian dump in Tilbury Docks, Essex; a plaster cast of a found object from a building site; terracotta clay, paint and an Irish linen napkin are brought together, given balance and positively transformed. “I guess this artwork a reflection on our time. We are dealing with so much material history and the accessibility of ‘everything’; time has been compressed and expanded in an instant,” says Helen.

Katie Surridge
This historical mash-up is also inherent in the artwork of Katie Surridge, though with a different creative interpretation. Katie allows her interest in folklore, stories and skills from the past to inspire her material choices and making techniques. She likes to blend bits she borrows from the past, with things that she finds in the present, “like when they drop a bit of 80s rock into a techno mix at a squat party. I use this to humorously draw attention to situations, and tropes, of modern society, like dating apps or binge drinking,” she says. Katie has been working with scientists at the University of Leeds on ways to give new life to the valuable elements – including gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and cobalt – that are trapped in discarded electronic devices. Caryatid Mirror (2024 Version) is made from this recast copper. A modern-day version of a bronze age mirror, this contemporary relic features the artist as the handle, in place of the goddess Hathor, and a polished and reflective iPhone shaped mirror on her headrest instead of a sun disk.

David Rickard
In David Rickard’s Small Acts of Subtraction (With Unknown Positives) we experience a public sculpture in reverse. Realised through the process of removing materials from the public space, the work is an accumulation of nails, screws and other sharp objects collected from the roads of London. What began as a casual practice of picking up objects from the roads that could potentially create punctures, slowly evolved into an extensive collection. The artwork is the process of collecting, the resulting ordered catalogue of hazards shown in the exhibition and the unknown positive outcomes for the public through its accumulation.

Katrin Hanusch
“Everything wants to be considered as sculptural medium. Everything wants to be recognised in its potential and cherished in an alchemical transformation, that turns material into an actant, proposing new organisms/objects created by our organic/biological/mineral/technical waste,” says artist Katrin Hanusch. Her protean practice experiments with a disparate range of materials, from found objects, to the detritus of Capitalism and often the discarded by-products of sculpture-creation processes. She breaks down notions of value in her material juxtapositions. Discarded remnants may be used directly, at other moments moulded and recast in bronze. Katrin’s sculpture on display here is the combined result of quick gestures and labour-intensive processes. Her intuitive approach interacts on a poetic level with material, creating an anthropomorphic interpretation of materials that is both humorous and uncanny.

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