I did some brief historical research into the areas that I will be photographing. Having been a resident of Coventry for 19 years, most of the information I found I’d already heard through stories or from school, but a few things still surprised me. This is what I found:
In 1329, Coventry was considered one of the wealthiest cities in the country due to the Priors and ‘Goodmen’ being allowed to collect taxes. This meant that the city needed to be protected, and a fortifying wall was commissioned. The wall when finished 159 years later was 8ft thick, over 12ft high and was punctuated with impressive gates and watch-towers. It was said to be rivalled only by the wall that surrounded London. – http://www.historiccoventry.co.uk/wall/wall.php
The Old Cathedral dates from around the 1300s, and has seen a lot of change over its years. Originally referred to as the Parish of St. Michaels, the Cathedral only gained its status in 1918, nearly 4 centuries after the previous Cathedral St Mary’s, was demolished. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city, and was included in the grounds of Coventry Castle.
Coventry University has roots that go as far back as 1843, from the Coventry College of Design. In 1970 the college combined with the Lanchester College of Technology and the Rugby College of Engineering Technology to become the Lanchester Polytechnic, named after Dr Frederick Lanchester. Dr Lanchester was considered one of the great pioneers of the midlands automotive industry. In 1982 the name was changed to Coventry Polytechnic and in 1992 the university was set up under UK Government Legislation.
Coventry has also been symbolised as The Phoenix, a mythical creature that is said to be consumed in flames upon its death, and reborn from the ashes to begin a new life. This is in reference to the great fire bombing of Coventry called The Blitz, in which the city was heavily bombarded by German bombers in WW2 despite Winston Churchill having prior knowledge of the attack due to the British intelligence service cracking the Nazi’s encrypted code. Churchill wanted to keep the discovery a secret, and so allowed to city to be bombed without warning, which while devastating the city’s ancient buildings allowed the British Army to decipher German coded messages in secrecy.
I believe my project reflects this city’s great history, as the stories I have heard inspire imagination which is something I wish to do with my work. I plan to create a narrative running through my images, and create a digital graphic novel/video with audio recorded to suit the images. I plan to create an alternative reality that the viewer can enter and experience, but still be able to recognise famous areas within the city.