COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
Pool Meadow Bus Station has been given a City of Culture 2021 upgrade, with new yellow metal benches, amazing artwork and now its own Coventry music ceramic collage entitled ‘Ska’d For Life’.
The vast artwork contains ceramic tiled faces and cuttings of so many of Coventry’s famous musicians and movers and shakers.
There is a huge 2-Tone slant to this masterpiece but it’s very much a celebration of all things Coventry.
I’m proud to have been one of the consultants to the project and even prouder be featured on there a couple of times, including a tile showing me as a Rude boy in my teenage years. Behind this epic piece is the amazing Carrie Reichardt, so time I put some questions to her.
Are you a 2-Tone fan?
She said: “My older sister Fi brought home a single of Gangsters and I fell in love with it.
“I am the youngest of four, all my siblings were into punk, played in punk bands – I was that bit younger, 2-Tone spoke to me.
“My best friend Susan, her dad was Jamaican, and she also introduced me to a lot of ska and reggae.
“I think the look was so striking – I loved the aesthetics of 2-Tone and that as a tomboy, it validated me in wanting to dress in boys clothes.”
So how did this artwork come about?
“I was invited to apply for the commission by Creative Giants.
“I spent a long time on design work, agreeing with the stakeholders the finished design.
“I spent about four intense months working on it with a team of very talented artists.
“I am very happy with the result, there were times when I doubted it would ever get completed or installed.
“So just to see this installed makes me very proud.
“It was actually made in a short period of time, given the surface area.”
How long did it take to make?
“Most of the time, we were dancing around the studio listening to ska trying to keep ourselves motivated working 12-hour days.
“Because of Covid and ever-changing restrictions, I was given a very tight deadline, but I am most proud of the fact I managed to work with over 90 local school children and include their own personal ceramic stars in the finished work.”
How do you think the people of Coventry will react to it?
“I hope the people of Coventry will be very proud of ‘Ska’d for Life’ – that they feel it visually captures some of the city’s amazing musical past.
“2-Tone made me the person and artist I am today, it politicised me and in tribute I called my only son Rudi.
“It was a total honour to try and show my love and gratitude to the people of Coventry.
“I know that the staff at the bus station were very happy and proud and everyone I spoke to during the installation seemed very positive.
“It’s also not just about 2-Tone but about other musicians, ie Delia, the Orchids and those who helped build up the music scene in the community plus the fanzines, magazines, the counter-culture that comes before it.”