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Art installation offers a journey like no other


Observation on Being, London Road Cemetery, Coventry, until August 15.

Barbara Goulden

Keen environmentalists and yoga fans should especially appreciate this immersive art installation that has spread itself around Coventry's London Road Cemetery.

It won't suit ghost hunters and you do have to cross the formidable London Road to access a reopened entrance into the oldest part of the cemetery which has been accepting the city's dead since 1847.

On a sunny day, it's too spiritual to be spooky.

City of Culture organisers are using the car park on the fields outside Charterhouse where they've set up a ticket booth just ahead of a controlled traffic light crossing. There's also a helpful guide who explains to small groups of six that at the first stop in the cemetery we will be invited to wear blindfolds as we follow a rope line along a flat path.

Thankfully, that's all after we've negotiated the busy road. And the blindfolds are purely optional. They're just a way of getting us to open our ears to the sound of birdsong - and sirens - before we get to the atmospheric bells which can be heard as we stare up into oak trees and contemplate how, as we breath out, the earth breaths in our exhalations, and vice versa.

Essentially we are as one with the planet and can witness this through surprising illuminated displays set up in the cemetery's two chapels - one for Anglicans the other for Non-Comformists. The first display looks uncomfortably like the colourful insides of our own bodies.

The second involves sitting before the image of a giant redwood tree as it slowly turns, allowing us to see not only round its circumference but down into its roots and then up into its canopy.

My favourite graveyard exhibit involved the opportunity to lie beneath a real oak tree - weather permitting - and contemplate the currents flowing from my own body down into the boneyard below.

The sixth and final immersive experience involves anothe tree. This time a spreading copper beech, listening to sounds entitled Longplayer. The music, composed by Jem Finer, is intended to continue repeating itself for nearly 1,000 years. it started playing in other locations back in December, 1999.

This highly unusual exhibition aims to demonstrate how mankind and our environment are bound inextricably together.

It was created by an international group of artists working under the unlikely sounding banner of Marshmallow Laser Feast. The group has its works shown in places like the Saatchi Gallery, the Sundance Film Festial and the V & A in London.

Now they're in Coventry until August 15.

Tickets must be pre-booked by visiting the Coventry City of Culture site: www.coventry2021.co.uk