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3rd Jul, 2022

Warwickshire art gallery project to explore role of humour during pandemic

Catherine Thompson 4th Sep, 2020 Updated: 4th Sep, 2020

A NEW art project at Stratford’s Compton Verney will explore how laughter has helped people cope through lockdown.

The art gallery and park, located between Kineton and Wellesbourne, has teamed up with arts organisation People United, which investigates kindness in the arts and its influence on behaviour, to explore the theme of humour.

The investigation will lead to new public art interventions in the 120-acre parkland, created by Birmingham based street artist Foka Wolf.

The partnership got under way with two sessions of The Laughter Cafe hosted by artistic director Janice Connolly. As well as starring in shows such as Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, Janice is also known for her alter-ego, Britain’s Got Talent star, Mrs Barbara Nice.

Locals joined Janice for two hours across the two sessions of the online Cafe to share and discuss what’s made them laugh in lockdown.

Janice said: “Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. In this extraordinary time we have found ourselves living through, humour has proved an important ally in its ability to strengthen our resilience as individuals and communities. In the Laughter Cafe sessions, I was struck by how often people cited the role that everyday interactions, language play and observations of daily family life had in eliciting laughter and humour. I really look forward to seeing how these laugh out loud, lively, big-hearted sessions inform the artwork in the grounds of Compton Verney.”

Everything that has come out of The Laughter Cafe is being used to fuel the new work of art.

Artist Foka added: “I am overjoyed to be working on a commission with People United and Compton Verney this September. Compton Verney was one of the first galleries I ever visited as a teenager, so I have fond memories of it. People United have been involved in some fantastic projects over the last decade that bring happiness and kindness through the use of art, and that to me is what art is all about, so naturally I was drawn to their call out.

“The submission guidelines could have been made for me – text based artworks using humour to help people be more empathetic and kind towards one another. I am really intrigued to see how this sort of work will sit in the a parkland and gallery setting. Usually my work is out on a road side, but here I can observe the Compton Verney gallery-goers reactions in the flesh. I am hoping to bring about some positivity through these installations and I can’t wait for people to see what we have in store.”

The artwork will be unveiled later this month.

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