‘Hot Springs’ art celebration.

‘Hot Springs’ art celebration.


Events will take place across Bath next month to celebrate 160 years of art and design teaching in the city.

‘Hot Springs of Art and Design’ (Friday 13 October to Monday 16 October 2017) will recognise the ongoing influence and partnership of the Bath School of Art and Design and the city of Bath from the 1850s to the present day.

'Centre Piece' Peter Brewers and Philip Dorey

‘Centre Piece’ with Peter Brewers and Philip Dorey from Bath Art Secondary School. Picture from Bath Record Office.

The celebration has been organised by the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Victoria Art Gallery, Bath Spa University and alumni of the Bath Art Secondary School.

Jon Benington, Manager of the Victoria Art Gallery, said: “The Gallery has enjoyed close connections with the excellent Bath School of Art and Design going back over more than a century. This exciting weekend of events for all ages celebrates the amazing legacy of art teaching in the city while also looking forward to a very bright future.”

Dr Graham McLaren, Head of Research at Bath School of Art and Design, said: “The histories of Bath School of Art and Design and the City of Bath are inseparable. It was concerned citizens of the City who brought the School into being, agitating for its establishment and putting their hands in their pockets to fund it.

“The School can thank the City for supporting its continued existence through financial strife and even the total destruction of its buildings and equipment by enemy bombing in 1942. In return we hope that the City is proud of the amazing array of art and design talent that the School has produced over the years, adding so much richness and diversity to the culture of Bath and beyond.”

victoria art gallery

The Rotunda at the top of the staircase in the Victoria Art Gallery.

Events over the long weekend will include:

Howard Hodgkin, India on Paper
Victoria Art Gallery
Saturday 14 October to Sunday 7 January

For more than 60 years Howard Hodgkin, one of the foremost artists of our time, nurtured positive relations with Bath and the Victoria Art Gallery. This exhibition highlights those connections whilst exploring his love affair with India. The show features several works created while Hodgkin taught at Bath Academy of Art (1955-66), where he had also studied.

Meet the Inventor of Plasticine
Victoria Art Gallery
Saturday 14 October, 11.30am-4pm

3D modelling in Plasticine with Bath’s very own William Harbutt, headmaster of Bath School of Art in the 1890s. Learn how his invention became a world phenomenon. Free drop-in event.

Symposium: The impact of art education in Bath and beyond, and preview of ‘A History of Bath School of Art and Design, 1854 to the present day’ by Dr Graham McLaren
Bath Spa University, Corsham Court
Saturday 14 October, 1pm-4.30pm

To book a place for the above event visit www.bathspalive.com. An exhibition of works from the University Art Collection will be on display at the Court from 10am-1pm. Note that parking is not available for this event at Corsham Court or Church Square.

Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum at the Sydney Gardens end of Great Pulteney Street.

House of Imagination Activities
Gardener’s Lodge, Holburne Museum

Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October, 10am-5pm

5x5x5=creativity will run a pop-up House of Imagination, a studio space for children and young people to make art alongside professional artists.

Future Forward: An exhibition
Walcot Chapel
Open daily 10am-5pm

Bath School of Art and Design today, including plans for the Grade II-listed former Herman Miller furniture factory at Locksbrook Road.

The Bath Art Secondary School
St Michael’s Church, Broad Street
Open daily 10am-5pm (Sunday 1pm-5pm)

Find out about Bath’s unique post-war art secondary school with archival items and artworks capturing its history and output.

Walking Tour – Bath School of Art and Design and the City
Sunday 15 October

A walking tour of Bath covering sites related to Bath School of Art and Design from the 1850s to the present day. Tour led by Dr Graham McLaren and students of Bath School of Art and Design. For further information and to reserve a place visit www.bathspalive.com.

Walking Tour – Painting the Town
Monday 16 October, 2.30pm-4pm

A free walk led by Victoria Barwell exploring the houses, picture rooms and favourite views of some of Bath’s most famous artists, from Thomas Gainsborough to Walter Sickert. Assemble opposite the entrance to the Victoria Art Gallery, overlooking the weir. The walk finishes at the Assembly Rooms.





Looking ahead at the Holburne.

Looking ahead at the Holburne.

Extending the reach of what we do and attracting a bigger and wider audience. That appears to be the plan of action for the future now being put together by the new Director of Bath’s Holburne Museum, Dr Chris Stephens.

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Dr Chris Stephens Director, Holburne Museum

In an extended interview with Bath Newseum he says museums – whatever their academic credentials –  are a popular form of entertainment and he wants the Holburne to be a centre of attraction for as many art lovers as possible.

Dr Stephens comes to Bath with an outstanding record from his time at Tate Britain where he was Head of Displays and Lead Curator, Modern British Art.

At Tate Britain he has curated a series of major exhibitions, including Gwen & Augustus John (2004), Francis Bacon (2008), Henry Moore (2010), Picasso and British Art (2012), Barbara Hepworth (2015) and, most recently, the on-going David Hockney retrospective that is projected to be the most popular exhibition in Tate Britain’s history.

I wanted to know why he’d given up the bright lights of London to come to Bath.

Apologies regarding the wind noise across the microphones on this interview. My former colleagues in the ITV sound department will no doubt be wagging a finger. I will try and avoid breezy gardens next time!


That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

That’s the way to do it! The re-birth of Weston-super-Mare’s Town Museum.

More than two and a half thousand people turned up last Saturday ( August 26th) to look around the newly-reopened town museum at Weston-super-Mare.


The exterior of the Grade 2 listed building in Burlington Street.

I know this website concerns itself with Bath but – as someone who claims that west coast town as his birthplace – l seized the opportunity to pop down and be shown around the place by the man who chairs the committee responsible for its rebirth – Cllr John Crockford-Hawley.


L to R. Cllr John Crockford-Hawley and my friend Peter Steel – on our tour of the newly re-vamped facility.

You’ll find the museum in the former Gas Company workshops in Burlington Street – a site it has occupied since 1974.

However, this is its third town location, as a museum has existed in Weston for 155 years – making it just ten years younger than the V & A and ten years older than Bristol City Museum.


Plenty of colourful displays and ‘hands-on’ fun for youngsters.

To complete the business plan – there is a tripartite agreement between Weston Town Council which owns the building, North Somerset Council which owns the collection, and the South West Heritage Trust which curates the collection.


Milk churns and platform porters.

The project has largely been covered by the Heritage Lottery Fund – which provided £346,000 more than the town council asked for – with further money coming from the Coastal Communities Fund, Garfield Trust and Arts Council England.

The building has been closed for two years to enable a new roof – with automatic opening windows – to be installed.

They’ve also added a lift to open up the second floor to those with disabilities and a cafe – selling local produce – is ‘in-house’ -allowing profits to flow back into the museum.


No ‘tat’ in the museum shop!

Donations are obviously welcome and there’s a bright little shop area – selling everything from local history books to china mugs and reproduction carbolic soap – adding to the all-important extra income.

Bright new display areas, new balconies and a re-configured staircase has opened up areas for exhibition and performance.


A view down into the body of the museum’s main hall from one of the new balconies. To the right is another exhibition room that can also be used for lectures and conferences.

Most of the museum’s vast collection is stored at Taunton but there will be a regular flow of items – no doubt – to refresh displays.


Come face to face with some of Weston’s former inhabitants!

I have to say having ‘less’ has turned out to provide ‘more’ in the way of impact. You no longer have to shuffle past past endless displays of  somewhat cluttered and drably displayed objects.

There is a real – brightly-lit and information-rich flow of artefacts which explore Weston’s long history – from primitive man to its ascendancy as a Victorian seaside resort.


Memories of paddle steamers!

As an ‘old boy’ myself – l have to say the ‘Wyatt smile’ widened with every new display that triggered memory and took me back – for instance – to the days of the Open Air Swimming Pool – with its gushing fountain and high diving board – or the bracing summer days of Channel cruising on the old Bristol and Cardiff Queens.

This little boy’s heart would beat fast as he ran down the once firm-planks of the jetty on Birnbeck Pier to board one of those wonderful smoke-belching Campbell steamers that promised Knickerbocker Glory ice-creams as soon as we docked – down Channel –  at Ilfracombe.


The ‘sponsored’ wooden blocks in the floor. The whole of the town’s high street was once lined with wooden blocks too.

Community involvement is strong with sponsored woodblocks that you can purchase to help coat the museum floor and a special display area given over to groups and clubs in the town to promote their place – and history – in the town.


Here’s where the community can make its mark.

There were more memories for me of the penny in the slot automatons l viewed on the old Grand Pier. They were always depicting gruesome executions or ghouls rising from the grave – but you got a childlike thrill knowing there was glass between you and the stuff of nightmares.


The electric chair! An original automaton that used to give me nightmares after being viewed as a young boy on the ‘old’ Grand Pier.

Meet the ‘Lord of the Manor’ – a couple painted by no-less-than Bath-based Thomas Gainsborough himself – and lots of other canvasses depicting the town’s history in the first real Weston-dedicated gallery the museum has ever boasted.


The new art gallery.

I could go on but l want you to go look for yourselves. Burlington Street is a bit out of the way but there is now good signage and even little museum symbols on the pavement to guide you into the back streets from The Boulevard.


Museum logo markings on the pavement help lead you to the front door in Burlington Street.

Details of opening ties and directions can be found on the museum website via www.http://westonmuseum.org

This is the biggest project the Town Council has undertaken and there are plans to start developing phase 2 of the museum which will bring in the rear courtyard, back of house areas and Clara’s Cottage.

Makes a refreshing change to say that here is a little gem that Weston-super-Mare can be truly proud of.








Twilight talks about fashion.

Twilight talks about fashion.

Subjects ranging from Jane Austen to fashions inspired by Caribbean culture will be amongst topics featured when the Fashion Museum Bath hosts a series of Twilight Talks this autumn.

fashion museum

The talks, at the Bath & North East Somerset Council run Museum, will also include subjects such as the use of fur and feathers in fashion and a fascinating insight into the life of British stage and screen actress Vivien Leigh.

Cllrs Paul Myers (Conservative, Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration said: “This is a wonderful programme of talks put together by staff at the Fashion Museum, covering a diverse range of topics.   I am delighted they have been able to incorporate events to coincide with the Jane Austen Festival and Black History Month.  The talks should prove to be informative, inspiring and thought provoking.”

fashion museum

All talks take place at the Fashion Museum from 6.15pm to 7.15pm. Tickets cost £10 adult/£8 student including a glass of wine, and can be booked atwww.bathboxoffice.org.uk.


Jane Austen

Thursday 14 September 2017

A talk about fashions at the time of Jane Austen, to coincide with the annual Jane Austen Festival that takes place in Bath each September.


Discovering Pauline Baynes

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Hear all about Alberto Ceccatelli’s research discovering the life and work of children’s illustrator Pauline Baynes, who, as a child, owned a vibrant jumper now on display at the Fashion Museum. Later in life, Baynes worked with JRR Tolkien and illustrated many children’s books including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The talk will be a conversation in Italian and English, with simultaneous translation.


Re-use and Re-purpose: Understanding Jessica Ogden

Thursday 12 October 2017

Join Professor Carol Tulloch as she talks about how British/Jamaican fashion designer Jessica Ogden’s work re-making, re-cycling and customising pre-used textiles is rooted in a centuries old Caribbean tradition. Part of Black History Month.


Vivien Leigh – Actress and Movie Star

Thursday 9 November 2017

Keith Lodwick will talk about British stage and screen actress Vivien Leigh, drawing on the archive of her letters and diaries at the Theatre Museum Collection. Leigh’s 1940s red embroidered jacket is on display at the Fashion Museum.


Fashioned from Nature

Thursday 23 November 2017

Drawing on her research for the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition Fashioned From Nature, Edwina Ehrman will talk about the fascinating role of fur and feathers in fashion from the 18th century to the present day. Her talk will particularly focus on the human impulse to improve on and commodify nature.

For more information visit:  www.fashionmuseum.co.uk.


On the trail of a dragon!

On the trail of a dragon!


Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery, which is run by Bath & North East Somerset Council, is launching a new family trail around the city this summer, to coincide with the Here Be Dragons exhibition (22 July-8 October 2017).

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Eight virtual dragon eggs will be hidden in Bath city centre, each designed in the style of a children’s illustrator, including Axel Scheffler, Russell Ayto and Quentin Blake.

Families can begin hunting by downloading the free ‘Where Be Dragons?’ app from iTunes or Google Play. They can follow the compass in the app to find eight posters around Bath, each featuring the work of a children’s illustrator. When pointing your device at the poster a virtual egg will appear and be added to your collection.

On the shell of each egg is a gold letter. Find them all and complete the anagram to complete the challenge.

All players who manage to complete the trail and solve the anagram can enter a prize draw to win one of three goody bags containing signed books, toys, games and tickets. Entrants must be over 14 years old.

Everyone who takes part will also be able to collect a free bookmark from the Victoria Art Gallery (subject to availability, during opening hours).

The eggs are all close to the city centre, and the trail will take about one hour. A short video demonstration for the app is available by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onGe34wpIak

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Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield) Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “This is an exciting exhibition and trail for families to take part in over the summer. Dragons are really popular fictional characters and I am sure this exhibition and trail will attract local residents and visitors alike.”

Here Be Dragons will take over Victoria Art Gallery from Saturday 22 July until Sunday 8 October 2017. Visitors to this awe-inspiring exhibition can expect to encounter a veritable dragon’s den – in two and three dimensions – crammed with creatures that have leapt out of their favourite books.

The show will mine a rich seam of dragon lore, with images by some of the world’s best children’s illustrators, including Chris Riddell (Ottaline and Goth Girl), Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), Quentin Blake and Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon). There will be more than 70 pieces on show, with something for visitors of all ages, from ‘touch and feel’ art for babies to scary, fire-breathing dragons for older fans.

Exciting dragon events, workshops and storytelling sessions will take place at the gallery, including an opening celebration where children can help create a Lego mosaic of Cressida Cowell’s Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus, which will be displayed in the show. Copies of famous dragon tales will be available to browse in the story corner and purchase in the gallery shop.

The exhibition is guest curated by John and Gill McLay, founders of Bath Children’s Literature Festival. Gill McLay said: “In everything we do, we try to bring together art, story and entertainment and the exhibition will do just that. A true celebration of the illustrator, we hope this family-focused exhibition will bring families together in their love of dragons and the world of imagination. We’re hugely excited to be working with the team at the Victoria Art Gallery and grateful for the opportunity to share some breathtaking artwork with children of all ages.”

www.victoriagal.org.uk/dragons ­­

Family events

Lego workshop
Saturday 22 July, 10.30am – 4.30pm

Celebrate the opening of the exhibition by taking part in our Lego public build mosaic. Children will jointly build an artwork to go in the show – Cressida Cowell’s very own Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus.

Face of the dragon
Wednesday 26 July, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 3 to 7 years old

Create a colourful dragon mask

Dragon modelling
Friday 28 July, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 6 to 11 years old

Create a dragon using pipe cleaners and foam

Dragon printing
Wednesday 2 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 3 to 7 years

Create dragons using a clever printing technique

Dragon allsorts
Friday 4 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 6 to 11 years

Draw and paint a dragon

Snapping dragons
Wednesday 9 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 3 to 7 years

Make a dragon model

Dragon’s first breath
Friday 11 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 6 to 11 years

Create a paper craft dragon’s egg

Head of the dragon
Wednesday 16 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 3 to 7 years

Create a dragon headdress

Dragon puppets
Friday 18 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 6 to 11 years

Use a folding technique to create dragon puppets

Enchanted castle
Wednesday 23 August, 10.30am – 12.30pm and 1.30pm – 3.30pm
Ages 3 to 11 years

Be a princess or knight battling a dragon

Included in admission price, no need to book. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Crystal gazing

Crystal gazing

Takes an exhibition like ‘Riches of the Earth: The Beauty of Minerals’ to remind me what a gem of a collection is housed at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square.


This is a ‘free-bee’ and you are welcome – during open hours – to pop in off the street and admire the beauty of minerals through the astounding forms and vibrant colours of more than a hundred carefully selected specimens.


The marvellous colours and forms of these natural wonders delight the viewer: glacial blue-green beryl, rainbow-hued opal, fiery red heulandite, lurid yellow sulphur, along with hexagonal prisms of aragonite, eccentrically fused cubes of fluorite and needle-like crystals of Goethite.


One group of specimens demonstrate their curious ability to glow in strange colours under UV light, while others have been chosen for their ornate patterns exposed in cross section.


The Institution’s collection of more than 2300 mineral specimens was built up during the 18th and 19th centuries, through the donations of many collectors.


It includes beautiful rarities from many different countries, and this is a unique opportunity to see them on display in Bath.


‘Riches of the Earth: the Beauty of Minerals’ is open  Monday to Saturday 10:00-16.00, until 30th September, and is a free exhibition.

A view of the Crescent

A view of the Crescent

Would Bath’s iconic Royal Crescent have made a good Council House? Can you still see the spot where a wartime bomb made a big crater on its lawn?  Or appreciate why one local painter calls its grassy front garden Bath’s beach?


Detail from Peter Brown’s 20-16 study of the Crescent lawn entitled ‘The Beach.’

Just some of the questions that may come to mind if you go and see ‘Exhibition: A View of the Crescent – Celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Bath’s Landmark Building’ which opens at No 1 Royal Crescent on Saturday, June 25th until November 19th.


illustrations showing how the Royal Crescent could have been transformed into Council Offices.

It explores what the Royal Crescent means to people who enjoy, admire and respond to the beauty of its setting, and how prominent artists have portrayed this famous building over the years through paintings, prints, photographs and textiles.


Philip Bouchard’s painting of the Royal Crescent.

To stage it, Bath Preservation Trust has delved into its own archives – and that of Bath Record Office – as well as involving the Victoria Art Gallery and many well-known locally-based artists.

As one of its organisers, Beatrice Goddard, explains:

At No. 1 Royal Crescent from 24 June to 19 November.

Free with normal admission to the museum: Adult £10, Child £4, Family £22. Concessions.