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Caught in the Crossfire: Artistic Responses to Conflict, Peace and Reconciliation

Caught in the Crossfire is a temporary exhibition at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry which explores how artists grapple with both the brutality of war and the desire for peace. Coventry itself is a city which has been devastated by war with a strong reputation for peace and reconciliation. The Herbert is therefore the perfect setting for such an exhibition as this.

KennardPhillipps (Peter Kennard and Cat Picton Phillips), Photo Op

The exhibition takes us on a challenging journey from the home front to the frontline and back again, as seen through the eyes of artists, soldiers and people affected by conflict.

Visitors travel through divided lands, debate the role of protest art, explore the aesthetics of violence and machinery of war, and reflect upon the aftermath of war where hope emerges and lives are rebuilt. A section of the exhibition focuses on the work of KennardPhillipps made in response to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

KennardPhillipps, The Mall

John Piper, Interior of Coventry Cathedral, 15 November 1940

War is a delicate topic to address through contemporary art and viewers may find some of the works unsettling, but The Herbert has decided to tackle conflict and issues head-on within this exhibition. Being bold in an approach to depicting the brutality and consequences of war allows for a deep and thought-provoking display.

The show begins with a more local theme, focusing upon Coventry during wartime with works such as John Piper’s (see above). The exhibition moves through sections with titles such as ‘Machines of War’ and finally ‘Aftermath.’

The inclusion of street art such as Napalm by Bansky and Desert Storm by Blek Le Rat help give the exhibition a gritty feel. There is also plenty of art within the ‘Protest’ section which exposes the role of those in power in civilian death and of the media in not revealing it.

Bansky, Napalm

Blek Le Rat, Desert Storm

This is definitely one of the best exhibitions around at the moment and will be running until the 7th of July. It is already earmarked to go to Dresden, but here’s hoping it tours further in the UK.

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