Making Art Matter

Making Art Matter

The work of Bath-based artists Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, whose artistic partnership spanned more than five decades, will be celebrated in a new exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.

Making Art Matter: Clifford & Rosemary Ellis will run from 8 September to 25 November 2018.

Clifford Ellis (1907-1985) was a graphic artist and illustrator who is perhaps best known for his time as head of the pioneering Bath Academy of Art, which was based at Corsham Court in Wiltshire from 1946.

Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, New Naturalist Cover

Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, New Naturalist Cover

Clifford was born in East Sussex and studied at St Martin’s School of Art and the Regent Street Polytechnic. This was where he met Rosemary Collinson (1910-1998). After their marriage in 1931, they worked as partners designing iconic posters for London Transport and Shell, and book jackets for the Collins New Naturalist series.

Their imagery reveals an overwhelming interest in, and love of, the British countryside and the creatures that inhabit it. Signing their work simply ‘C&RE’, they also shared a love of fresh, bright colour and bold design.

After moving to Bath in 1936, Rosemary taught art at the Royal School, while Clifford became Assistant at the Technical College. After two years he was promoted to head of the Bath School of Art.

During the Second World War, the Ellises continued their teaching and design work and Clifford set up the Bath Art Club, with monthly lectures by prestigious speakers such as John Piper and Nikolaus Pevsner.

As part of the wartime Recording Britain project, Clifford was commissioned to depict the decorative ironwork on the city’s buildings, as the Ministry of Works was removing the iron to help the war effort. The Ellises also created watercolours of bomb damaged buildings and VE Day celebrations in Bath. Many of these wartime works will feature in the exhibition.

Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, Giant Panda, London Passenger Transport Board 1939

Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, Giant Panda, London Passenger Transport Board 1939

The Ellis Family Archive was given to the Victoria Art Gallery in 2016, and is shared with the Bath Record Office. Making Art Matter will include many gems from the collection, including the wartime diary of Rosemary Ellis, posters designed in the 1930s for clients such as Shell and BP, and book cover artwork for the Collins New Naturalist series.

The exhibition will also feature paintings and prints by other artists who studied or taught at Bath Academy of Art, including Gillian Ayres, Howard Hodgkin and John Eaves.

Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield), cabinet member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “This will be a wonderful showcase of Clifford and Rosemary Ellis’s work, and a great insight into Bath’s history – from paintings of the city during the Second World War, to works by artists who taught at the trailblazing Bath Academy of Art. I hope that many residents will take the opportunity to see this fascinating exhibition, which will be free for local Discovery Card holders.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, a programme of talks in the Guildhall, and weekly tours.


Bath Quays gets the bird

Bath Quays gets the bird

An interactive ‘DigitOwl’ has landed at Bath Quays as part of a major public art sculpture trail featuring a flock of 85 individually decorated super-sized owls.

Created by local artist John Gould the interactive Bath Quays owl is a fusion of a beautiful bird with robotic and artificial intelligence elements.


Pictured is the artist John Gould

The owl aims to highlight Bath as not only historically beautiful but also a centre of innovation especially for technology and digital industries which will be attracted to the new workspace at Bath Quays.

Walkers and cyclists will find DigitOwl at the top of Bath Quays Waterside park steps, on the bank of the River Avon near Avon Street carpark and to help cyclists it will be visible at night with reflective strips and solar lights.

People will be able to scan a QR code which is on the owl or enter a web link into their mobile browser and be transported to the future in Virtual Reality.

Using a mobile phone people can see a fictional illustration of how the space could be used in a 360-degree panorama with two versions to experience; one during the day and one at night, each of which will be visible at different times of the day.

Artist John Gould said: “I wanted the sculpture to not just be a piece of art but to perhaps look like it could be a movie prop, something fun that would appeal to children in a space which has been designed for all to enjoy.”


John Gould with members of the Bath Quays team

Many residents and visitors have already been enjoying the wildflowers and riverbank at Bath Quays and with thousands expected to view the owls over the next few months, it will further highlight the transformation of the riverside by Bath & North East Somerset Council and help put Bath Quays on the map.

Minerva’s Owls of Bath 2018 is a major public art sculpture trail featuring owl sculptures displayed across Bath and the surrounding region from 25 June–10 September.

The high profile, interactive sculpture trail celebrates the Roman heritage of Bath and marks the 10th anniversary of the highly successful King Bladud’s Pigs sculpture trail.  All profits when the owls are auctioned will be donated to local charities which include Bath and North East Somerset Young Carers and the new Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospital.

The Owls of Bath trail maps will be available from outlets across Bath from 25th June when the trail starts as well as the free Owls of Bath interactive app.  The map page of the website will go live the weekend before the event.

There will be QR codes to download the Owls of Bath app on every Owl plinth. For more information about Bath Quays visit

Rats in Hedgemead

Rats in Hedgemead

Joy Roberts writes:

‘This is the entrance to Hedgemead Park – just off the London Road.
Somebody keeps dumping their household waste by the litter bin which is then torn open by animals of the night.
Rats have been seen. Today was awful. Three locals stopped to remark. Phoning council which is not their fault but have to clear it.
Such a pity when the council is trying to maintain and improve the park. ‘
Clean Air Day

Clean Air Day

People across Bath and North East Somerset are being encouraged to get behind Clean Air Day and pledge to help tackle air pollution produced on the roads and in their homes.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is holding a series of pop-up events in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton to mark the national awareness day on Thursday 21 June.

View of Bath 001

And the council is being joined by pupils from St Andrew’s Church of England Primary School, Northampton Street, who will perform their own ‘Lets create an air revolution’ rap at the Clean Air Day pop-up stall in Milsom Street, Bath, from 10-10.30am.

Forward-thinking youngsters from the school are giving the clear message that clean air counts and they explain what we can all do to help reduce air pollution, follow this link to hear them:

During the day people will be on hand at the stall to talk about how we can all help tackle air pollution including car sharing, using public transport, cycling and walking more.

There will be advice on joining a car club, as a cheaper, environmentally better option for not having a second car as well as changing cleaning habits in the home and burning smokeless fuels.


Londn Road traffic.

People will also have the opportunity to look at some electric cars which will be at the three locations and there will be electric bikes also at Milsom Street.

Pop-up stalls will also be in Midsomer Norton High Street , from 12-1pm and  near Keynsham Library and One Stop Shop from 2-3pm giving people  the chance to make a pledge to help improve air quality.

And people will also be able to find out more about the council’s plans for a Clean Air Zone, which will charge higher-emission vehicles for driving into the city.

Bath Clean Air Champions will be out and about from 10.15am-12.15pm and in the streets around Abbey and Walcot encouraging drivers who are idling their engine to switch off and they will be recruiting volunteers to get on board with their anti-idling campaign

An evening ten-mile round trip community cycle ride on the flat from Bath to Saltford, is planned, cyclists should meet at 5.55pm in Nelson Place, Bath. For more details go to

And Green Park Bike Station is offering electric bike hire for the day for £20 (normal price £30) and 10% off its electric bike conversion kit. For more details go to

Bruce Laurence, director of Public Health for Bath & North East Somerset, said: “We are encouraging people to make a pledge to do something which will help improve air quality. Air quality has a major impact on people’s health, and everyone from national governments and motor manufacturers, to local councils, communities and individuals, has a role to play. The children at St Andrew’s have summed it up perfectly in their rap. Whether you decide to walk instead of taking the car, cycle to work or use the bus, every one of us can make a small change to help improve air quality in our region.”

According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, air pollution is a contributory factor to some 40,000 premature deaths in the UK every year. Both long and short-term exposure to outdoor air pollution is known to adversely affect health. Short-term exposure can exacerbate asthma and respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms which interfere with everyday life.

Long-term exposure to everyday air pollutants over several years can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD), lung cancer, and respiratory disease. In the most severe cases, it increases the risk of death, especially for people who are already vulnerable.

And organisers of National Clean Air Day say air pollution in the home is an invisible killer – with 13 sources of pollution including heating, mould, chipboard furniture, and fumes from everyday cleaning and personal care products.

In Bath vehicle emissions are the biggest cause of air pollution. To improve air quality, the Government has told 28 Councils in England – including Bath & North East Somerset – to achieve compliance with Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)   limits ‘in the shortest possible time’ and by 2021 at the latest. This is part of its National Air Quality Action Plan.

There are a number of hotspots in Bath where concentrations of NO2 (caused by vehicle emissions) exceed the acceptable national and European limit of  40 µg/m3. This means the council needs to take urgent action by introducing a Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

A Clean Air Zone is a designated area in the city where the council can introduce measures to reduce vehicle emissions and cut pollution, with the aim of improving everybody’s health.

The intention is to charge higher-emission vehicles driving in the centre of the city, but air quality improvements will be felt across the whole of Bath. To find out more go to

We’re also encouraging everyone to make a pledge, and to share it with us on social media  #ourcleanairday

For more information on local Clean Air Day events and what you can do to tackle air pollution or to download pledge cards, go to

This summer’s ‘selfie’ spot.

This summer’s ‘selfie’ spot.

Whatever you think of Bath’s annual Christmas Market the one thing l always look forward to is the Abbey Hotel’s ‘Snow Globe’ installation – the location of one of the best festival selfies you can get in this city.

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Setting up the Snow Globe.

Well – as we head into summer – l think l have found a new location for turning the camera on yourself – or your friends. It’s an archway of flowers that’s been erected in Milsom Place Shopping Centre as a centrepiece for this weekend’s Milsom Place Festival of Flowers.

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Bath’s latest ‘selfie spot’ – a living archway of flowers at Milsom Place this weekend. Allison Herbert, General Manager of Bath BID, and Allan Russell, a Bath BID Ranger, inspecting the floral handiwork.

This historic central location is being dressed to impress under the guidance of Chelsea Flower Show gold medal veteran Jon Wheatley with plants on sale and even a hand-tied bouquet workshop.

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Jon Wheatley – with 26 gold medals to his credit from Chelsea – was busy showing a party of ‘bloggers’ around Milsom Place where he orchestrates the planting throughout the year.

I was introduced to the Centre Manager Alex McLaren by Allison Herbert who is General Manager of Bath BID.


Allison and Allan with Alex McLaren (left) who is the Milsom Place Shopping Centre Manager.

For those who don’t know this is the Bath Business Improvement District – an independent, not for profit, business-led initiative that works to create the environment for businesses in Bath to succeed.


Hanging baskets in Milsom Street.

It’s also in the process of helping to ensure many of the city’s central shopping streets are properly decorated with flowers for our millions of visitors.

Local authority cuts mean that – although they can supply the flowers from their greenhouses, B&NES hasn’t the resources to ‘manage’ the displays.


Flowers in Upper Borough Walls. That’s Bath BID Ranger Alan Russell with Bath BID General Manager Allison Herbert.

I joined Allison and BID Ranger Alan Russell in Upper Borough Walls where they were keen to show off a whole railing full of blooms – before we headed for Milsom Street.

It’s Allan who has the job of managing the floral displays in the city centre and – twice a week – physically driving around to water them all.


Bath Bid will be looking after these displays in Milsom Street.

We stopped outside Milsom Place so l could find out more about how the BID was helping to maintain Bath’s floral reputation. A city famous for its success in national competitions which judge floral displays.


Find out more about the Milsom Place Festival of Flowers via

Bath BID via

Meanwhile, while l have been critical of the plastic box hedging that has appeared in the Saw Close – alongside the new Casino, hotel and restaurant development – it’s a shame to report that one of the displays has been vandalised.


Someone has tugged one of the plastic​ bushes out of the trough.

Many people agree it’s a poor show for a new development – and one that has dangerous steps that have needed marking to make them safer – but l would rather see all the plastic removed by the developers than the contents of one scattered across this badly-thought-out space.


Abbey clearance continues.

Abbey clearance continues.

The east end of Bath Abbey is now clear of pews as Emery Brothers – the local builders with the multi-million-pound task of securing the church floor and building new facilities – get into their stride.


The pews in the east end have now all been removed.

I watched as Fiona started cleaning the surface of the ledger stones that have been uncovered for the first time in one hundred and fifty years.


Fiona at work cleaning newly-exposed ledger stones for official recording next week.

The job of recording them will get underway next week before they are taken up for the contractors to deal with the cavities that have been found under the floor.


The contractor is installing as much protection as possible for the Abbey’s amazing interior walls. Next to the scaffolding is Prior William Birde’s exquisite early 16th-century chapel.

They will gradually work their way around this ancient building over the next two years until the whole interior is stabilised.

Though most of the pews will be returned to the east end, the rest of the building will be left open – as it was when this English gothic perpendicular church was built at the beginning of the 16th century.


The temporary raised altar with the permanent High Altar now covered in the distance below the east window.

While building work continues, the High Altar has been covered and a temporary altar erected on the nave side of the crossing.

It’s on a dais at a spot that may well be used on a regular basis when the Abbey is returned to full use at the end of its Footprint Project.


Looking down towards the west end of the Abbey from the temporary altar.

Emery Brothers are hoping a fan-based ventilating system they are going to install – when the east end is sealed behind a giant dust cover – should obviate the need for wrapping the 1997-installed Klais Organ.


Hopefully, dust can be dealt with in such an effective way as to not need wrapping for the church organ.

I have been trying out a new device called the Osmo Mobile 2 which turns my mobile into a steady cam.

All fired up!

All fired up!

The fires are lit – so let the forging begin! Bath’s first-ever Festival of Ironwork has got underway today – Thursday, June 14th.


The Master Blacksmiths have started work on their individual panels for the bandstand.

See the blacksmiths at work – and have a go yourself – is just some of the entertainment available in Parade Gardens through to 6pm on Sunday evening.


Here’s where Bath school children are having a (supervised) go at ironwork.

There are also displays of the most amazing ironwork.


Another piece of iron art.

Running alongside this ar talks on the subject at the Guildhall and free sixty minute Heritage Ironwork walks – led by two experienced blacksmiths – around Bath City centre to discover hidden ironwork treasures.


Some of the amazing ironwork on display.

Elsewhere on the Bath Newseum site, you will read how Master Blacksmiths will be forging unique and individual ironwork panels for the bandstand in Parade Gardens.


How clever is this?


Find out more about the National Heritage Ironwork Group – and the Bath Iron Festival – via


There is plenty to see outside too.


Skilful work on display in Parade Gardens.