Walcot woes

Walcot woes

Party litter in Walcot Street

Party litter in Walcot Street

I know todays strong and gusty winds have not helped but there’s a section of Walcot Street that was looking very depressing this morning.

If fag ends and chewing gum wasn’t bad enough we have aerosol capsules and balloons from some sort of ‘enjoyable’ dance club activity which seems to revolve around one thing being filled with the other.

My thanks to my mate Dan for telling me it’s laughing gas – and apparently a legal ‘high.’

You tell me?

You tell me?

That’s fine – though l can find plenty to laugh at without breathing gas into my lungs –  but  – more importantly for Walcot traders – why is the source of their fun now being shared out along a vast stretch of pavement?

Feel sorry for those businesses fighting to keep things looking tidy and attract people and trade into this wonderfully historic street that has always helped give the city an ‘edge’.

And – not much to laugh at for the council sweeper l bumped into who was faced with clearing it all up.

This sort of littering should be dealt with. It has – after all – got a source. A place where it has all come from.


Tai Chi on the Terrace.

Tai Chi on the Terrace.

Come and clear your minds at some early morning T’ai Chi sessions that once again this year,  are being organised at the Roman Baths from April – offering the opportunity to start the day with some gentle exercise.

Tai Chi on the Terrace at the Roman Baths. Picture taken during last year's sessions. Click on image to enlarge.

Tai Chi on the Terrace at the Roman Baths. Picture taken during last year’s sessions. Click on image to enlarge.

Led by a qualified and supportive T’ai Chi instructor, the sessions are open to anyone interested in improving their balance and aid relaxation.

They will take place for half an hour, starting at 8am, on the following Tuesdays: April14, 21 and 28; May 5, 12, 19 and 26, and June 2, 9 and 16.

“This is a great way to learn a new way of relaxing both mind and body in the elegant environment of the terrace – weather permitting,” said Stephen Clews, who works for B&NES as Manager of the Roman Baths. “But if the weather is less than friendly, practise your moves in the equally calm and beautiful surroundings of the inner terrace.

“Practising T’ai Chi in the refined surroundings of the terrace is an experience unique to the city of Bath and offers a very special experience for local people.” He added: “In ancient times the Roman Baths were a venue for relaxation and meeting with friends; it is wonderful that the Baths can still be used for the benefit of the community in this way today.

The early morning T’ai Chi sessions are planned to fit easily into a working day, or a trip to the shops or other sites of cultural and historical interest nearby.”

Bedding down at the Gainsborough

Bedding down at the Gainsborough

New mattresses being unloaded at the hotel's side entrance.

New mattresses being unloaded at the hotel’s side entrance. Click on images to enlarge.

The opening of the city’s five-star Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel cannot be too far away.

It's the way the new hotel's guests will enter this five-star facility.

It’s the way the new hotel’s guests will enter this five-star facility.

The new General Manager has told the Virtual Museum it will be during the summer but your Director saw bed mattresses being delivered yesterday in Beau Street.

He also caught a glimpse of the new front door to this luxury conversion of a building that has already played community roles as both hospital and technical college.

The new surface is Lower Borough Walls

The new surface is Lower Borough Walls

Meanwhile the transformation of Lower Borough Walls – on the other side of the new hotel – continues apace.

Another view of the work in Lower Borough Walls

Another view of the work in Lower Borough Walls

A new surface is being laid as part of traffic calming measures for the area. It’s looking good.

Finally on my travels l took a quick look over the wall looking down on Parade Gardens. There is some sort of electric sub-station in the grounds which has always looked very out-of-place.

Could not this 'blot' be artistically disguised?

Could not this ‘blot’ be artistically disguised?

If it is too expensive to re-locate couldn’t B&NES hold a competition amongst art students to come up with a design to mask this ‘blot on the landscape?’

Meanwhile your Director is proud to say he has now contributed more than one thousand stories to the Virtual Museum of Bath since launching this facility two years ago.

He looks forward to more contributions from OTHER people too!


110th annual Bath Society of Artists Exhibition

110th annual Bath Society of Artists Exhibition

This year’s  Bath Society of Artists Annual Exhibition will run at the city’s Victoria Art Gallery from May 16 – June 27, 2015.

Bath's Victoria Art Gallery.

Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery.

Now in its 110th year, this hugely popular exhibition is the highlight of the gallery’s calendar and assembles the cream of regional artistic talent.

Any artist aged 18 or over can now submit work for possible selection by downloading a form from the website http://www.bsartists.co.uk and following the delivery instructions.

New for 2015, there will be a lottery of members’ work executed on postcards and displayed anonymously; buy a £1 ticket for a chance to win a unique original.

Many prizes are up for grabs including the Bath Society of Artists Prize of £1,000; the Bristol Guild Prize of £250 for a 3-D work, and the Harry Walker ‘RWA’ Young Artist Prize of £250, awarded to artists aged 18-25. There are also smaller prizes for prints, watercolours, small paintings and drawings.

During the exhibition members of the public will be invited to vote for their favourite art work, with the winner of the Bath Society of Artists Public Choice Prize receiving £500.

The Society was founded in 1904 with 26 members. It has grown over the years to a membership of around 120 diverse, talented artists. The annual exhibition, which is open to non-members, attracts about 1,000 entries and 7,000 visitors, with sales doubling in the last few years.

To enter, entrants must be over 18, pay a small entry fee to the Bath Society of Artists and submit their work at the Victoria Art Gallery on Saturday 9 May between 10am and 4pm. All submissions must be the artist’s own original unaided work. They may be paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints or mixed media, but not photography, craft or Giclee reproductions.

Many distinguished 20th-century painters have exhibited with the Society including Walter Sickert, John Singer Sargent, Philip Wilson Steer, Gilbert Spencer, Patrick Heron, Mary Fedden, William Scott and Howard Hodgkin.

The Victoria Art Gallery, near Pulteney Bridge in Bath, is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sundays 1.30pm to 5pm and closed on Mondays. Admission for the Bath Society of Artists Exhibition is under 21s and Discovery Card-holders free; otherwise £3.50 / concessions. For more details call 01225 477233, email victoria_enquiries@bathnes.gov.uk or visit the Gallery’s website www.victoriagal.org.uk.

2014 Dress of the Year unveiled.

2014 Dress of the Year unveiled.

Bath Fashion Museum has announced that the Dress of the Year for 2014 is by Gareth Pugh, one of the most celebrated fashion designers working in Britain today.

Look 41 - By Gareth Pugh -  2014 Dress of the Year.

Look 41 – By Gareth Pugh – 2014 Dress of the Year.

Chosen for the museum by Katie Grand, Editor-in-Chief of LOVE magazine and a major name in fashion today, the 2014 Dress of the Year positions the Fashion Museum as a showcase for the most exciting and innovative contemporary fashion.

Ms Grand’s choice as Dress of the Year 2014 is a super-sized structural ensemble made of plastic sheeting, shown at Gareth Pugh’s Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. The look – called Look 41- is a plastic coat and wrap ensemble, tied with a kimono-style belt. It is completed with a pair of twisted cream calico trousers that morph into boots, and an elastic hair net.

Gareth Pugh (born 1981) graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2003 and is known for his experimentation with form and volume, creating sculptural clothes that playfully call into question the traditional notions of the body.

Gareth Pugh © Wikipedia

Gareth Pugh © Wikipedia

Now backed by American fashion design Rick Owens, the winning voluminous and inflated ensemble formed a magnificent finale to the Autumn/Winter 2014 collection and chimes with finding and fashioning beauty in non-traditional and unlikely places. Pugh’s collection, which also featured ensembles created from calico, interfacing and wadding, highlights fashion’s current fascination with process and craft.

He said: “It’s an honour that Katie Grand has selected one of my outfits to represent the Dress of the Year 2014. I’m particularly delighted that the look that she has chosen – the finale from my Autumn/Winter 2014 show – is emblematic of what was an incredibly important season to me personally.

This look was created in a moment where I had decided to hit the reset button and re-examine what it was that inspired me when I was starting out, so the entire process was about stripping everything back to the bare necessities and simply celebrating the idea that you can create something from nothing. With this is mind, it’s wonderful to see it being displayed at the Fashion Museum in Bath, included in a collection of such cultural significance.”

Katie Grand says: “I’m delighted to have been asked to select the Dress of the Year and to me Gareth’s plastic dress sums up 2014. I like the idea of how fancy and complex the dress is in structure, yet made of something so disposable. I had a super time photographing this with David Sims for Love 12; it was so easy as it gives a couture silhouette yet is ‘punk’, it’s Edwardian, forties, seventies and two thousands all at the same time. It is familiar in its historical references yet utterly new in its execution.”

Fashion Museum manager Rosemary Harden talking recently to Mayor's Guides.

Fashion Museum manager Rosemary Harden talking recently to Mayor’s Guides.

Fashion Museum Manager Rosemary Harden commented: “The Fashion Museum is a world-class museum collection located in a World Heritage City, and the 2014 Dress of the Year places us firmly in cutting edge fashion in Britain today.

In a sense, we are doubly fortunate; both Gareth Pugh and Katie Grand are towering figures in the industry today, and we are thrilled and delighted that through their support and generosity the Fashion Museum is able to step up to the plate and present the very best of directional contemporary fashion – and fashion thinking – to the 90,000 plus visitors who come to the Fashion Museum in Bath every year.”

The Dress of the Year is now on display at the Fashion Museum and will remain on display throughout 2015. The Fashion Museum is open daily from 10.30am to 5pm (exit 6pm).

For more information visit www.fashionmuseum.co.uk or call 01225 477789.

Loos ends!

Loos ends!

Bath & North East Somerset Council’s plans to improve public toilets across the district is nearing completion.

toilet-signNew toilets at Henrietta Park were re-opened for use on March 13 and those in the Royal Victoria Park children’s play area will re-open on Friday March 27, on schedule, before the Easter holiday period.

From later in April, Newbridge Park & Ride will have toilets for the first time, for use by commuters, shoppers and other visitors to Bath who use the expanded car parking and bus services into the city centre.

The Council’s contract with Healthmatic Ltd will provide investment in cleaning and management services for 15 years, and means that 16 public toilets in parks, play areas, green spaces and key transport hubs will remain open and be improved.

Cllr David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “I’m delighted that new, modern, clean toilets are now being put in place across the district. People are telling me every day what a great improvement these new facilities are – they are much improved, cleaner and safer to use and certainly worth 20p.”

The new 20p in the slot loos in Sydney Gardens

The new 20p in the slot loos in Sydney Gardens

The new public toilets will have many benefits for local people, including:
• Cubicles will be unisex, disability compliant and will have baby-change facilities
• The cubicles offer a high standard of cleanliness and safety and are able to handle large numbers of people using them
• They are large enough for a parent with a couple of small children and a pushchair to use together
• High-tech controls means access can be 24 hours / 7 days a week all year and timers can be adjusted remotely to suit local need as well
• Access is by coin entry to a totally private cubicle with its own hand-washing and drying facilities
• The inside is resistant to vandalism and misuse with an easy-clean tiled interior and hard-wearing fittings
• Problems are detected remotely enabling rapid response by Healthmatic’s engineering and maintenance teams

All of the refurbished facilities will be charged at 20p for use, in order to make the contract sustainable over the next 15 years.

Say hello to Bath College!

Say hello to Bath College!

The name of Bath and North East Somerset’s merged multi-campus college has today been announced to mark a new era of education.

Bath College Logo - Bath CollegeCity of Bath College and Norton Radstock College will move forward under the new name of Bath College.

Bath College will have the City Centre Campus in Avon Street in Bath and the Somer Valley Campus in South Hill Park in Westfield.

The name announcement has been made ahead of the official merger date of Easter Monday, April 6.

The merger will build on the strengths of the two colleges and their long legacy of quality and professionalism.

City of Bath College

Former City of Bath College

The new college will focus on work-ready skills to ensure students are able to meet the demand of the local labour market.

City of Bath College Principal Matt Atkinson, who will become the Principal of Bath College, said the name change was an important milestone for the future of education.

He said: “We are thrilled to begin a new era of education under the Bath College name.

“The merged college will continue with our strong tradition of academic and vocational quality and teaching professionalism.

“We remain dedicated to providing education and training to meet the needs of the region and will continue to do all we can to support the growth of the local economy.

Bath College Logo - City Centre“The launch of the City Centre and Somer Valley campuses is just the start of an enormous vision to transform education and match local students to local jobs.

“The merger will allow the college, its staff and students to face the future from a position of strength.”

Staff, students, governors and community partners from both colleges worked with The House branding agency to come up with the new college and campus names.Bath College Logo - Somer Valley

They looked at important people and historical events but decided to use locations to make the most of the established brands and good reputation of City of Bath College.

The names were selected to exemplify the strength and historical foundation of each college’s geography, while positioning the merged college for future growth.

Both campuses will be re-branded with new logos and new signs and an updated website for all part-time, full-time and higher education courses will be launched.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills identified the merger as the best possible option following Norton Radstock’s inadequate Ofsted inspection.

The new college will provide vocational and educational training for more than 3,000 full-time students and around 10,000 part-time students across the broadest range of subjects.

The long-term strategy of the merged college will see the Somer Valley Campus focusing on skills for the manufacturing, engineering, construction and land-based sectors.

Somer Valley will also become the new College’s head office, increasing the number of employees working at that campus.

For more information visit http://www.bathcollege.ac.uk