Humour: The Open Arms    

People United and Compton Verney are delighted that their brand new outdoor artist commission, The Open Arms by Foka Wolf, opened on 26th September 2020. 

Artworks created by Foka Wolf for Compton Verney, 2020. Images © Michael Robertson-Smith

Birmingham based street artist, Foka Wolf, has created eight Folk Art inspired signs in Compton Verney’s 120-acre parkland, exploring humour and its connection to kindness.  

Foka Wolf’s most recognisable artworks have been joke adverts with a serious message. With this commission Foka Wolf has created signs that fuse that previous interest with inspiration from Compton Verney’s British Folk Art collection. The resulting artworks feel completely at home in the ‘Capability Brown’ landscape, while also creating a surprise for visitors who ‘come across’ the signs and discover their witty content and clever placement. 

The artworks are also influenced by local people’s experience of social solidarity during lockdown and the role of humour as a tool for empathy and resilience.   

To connect remotely with local people, we held two Laughter Cafés (14 & 16 August), hosted by Janice Connolly BEM, who is the Artistic Director of Women & Theatre. Janice is also known for her alter-ego, Birmingham icon and Britain’s Got Talent star, Mrs Barbara Nice – and she’s starred in shows such as Peter Kay’sPhoenix Nights,.  

Local people joined Janice at the online Café to share and discuss what had made them laugh in lockdown. These stories and jokes then fuelled Foka Wolf’s thinking and inspired the new works of art which subtly speak of the challenges people have experienced in 2020. 

All artworks created by Foka Wolf for Compton Verney, 2020. Images © Michael Robertson-Smith

To mark the launch of the new art trail, Foka Wolf was interviewed as part of the West Midlands Culture Response Unit’s Democratising Creativity & Culture Weekender. This was a free online event celebrating young creatives in the West Midlands, held on Saturday 26 September 2020.  The weekender featured a collection of performances, films, dance, poetry and  stand-up, that put the region’s young talent centre-stage, sharing their art and highlighting the issues affecting them including lockdown, including health, Black Lives Matter, and the power of communities.  

You can experience The Open Arms at Compton Verney between the 26 September and the 23 October 2020. Share your images and experiences of the trail with us on social media by tagging People United and letting us know – what has made you laugh recently? 

The Open Arms at Compton Verney 

When 
Saturday 26 September – Friday 23 October 2020. Tues- Sun, 10am -5pm. 

Where 
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park 
Warwickshire, CV35 9HZ 

No advance booking required for grounds only tickets.   
£5 per adult, child (0 -18) FREE 
Access All Areas Members & Local Pass Holders, FREE 

More information on visiting Compton Verney here: www.comptonverney.org.uk  

Share your images and thoughts with us on social media:
Follow @people_united @ComptonVerney and @FokaWolf on Twitter 
@people_united_@compton_verney  and @FokaWolf on Instagram 
Like People United Compton Verney and @FokaWolf Facebook page’s 

With thanks to 
Foka Wolf, Artist 
Amy Banks, Creative Consultant at Compton Verney 
Emma Butchart, Formal Learning Programmer at Compton Verney 
Becky Vincer, Creative Programmes Coordinator at People United 
Chloe Osborne, Creative Producer 

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