A sunshine tour.

A sunshine tour.

The hottest April day since 1949 and some good news amidst the sunshine.



Welcome back!


The fountain in Laura Place is back in action after the installation of a new pump. It’s the only real fountain the city has and – just like what is left of Mr Pieroni’s architectural offering on Bog Island – is in need of some long-term tender love and care.

Both fountains need real money spent on them or – long term – they will be lost.

Back to the good news. I have been gently chiding Garfunkel’s Restaurant – on the ground floor of the Empire Hotel – about their exterior planting troughs full of plastic flowers.

Somehow it seemed ironic to me that they should be there when just across the road was a riverside park which has constantly won awards for its living blooms.


Now you see them.

Bath seems to have more success in saying it with flowers – thanks to an overstretched and under-funded parks department – than it does with celebrating its waters.

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Now you don’t!

But back to the restaurant where – l am pleased to say – the artificial flowers are gone. The manager tells me he is looking to source some living plants to go outside his restaurant. At last! It will help make his business bloom!


The area between the two eight-storey​ buildings is gradually​​y being transformed into a​ riverside park.

Good to see the new riverside park taking shape as part of the Crest development down by Victoria Bridge.


Royal View with Sovereign Point – still under construction – beyond.

Whatever you think of the new eight-storey apartment blocks – taking shape on the riverbank – it’s fair to say Bath has not seen anything like them before.


The photography exhibition by David Molina Gadea in the Holburne Museum Garden.

Back into town and the Holburne Museum cafe-goers are sharing their garden space with an exhibition of photographs called The Long Way Home which reflects on the long journey that refugees across the world undertake when they decide to leave their homes in pursuit of a new place to call “home”.


These contemporary ‘monoliths’ are part of the photographic exhibition by David Molina Gadea who is a member of the Portuguese agency of photojournalism. They make a striking sight in the museum garden.

It’s a striking display with a strong message.


Who has set up camp in Sydney Gardens? The tepees are part of a ‘corporate event’ being held here on Friday, April 20th. B&NES is looking to get more revenue from its parks but – somehow – it’s a bit of an affront to the people who use this public space that part of it is being ‘denied’ to them. Even on a temporary basis.

Into Sydney Gardens, where three large tepees have been erected for what l was told, was a ‘corporate event’ today – Friday, April 20th. The cash-strapped Council is obviously out to extract more commercial value from its parks – and cannot be blamed for that. l just feel its a temporary denial of public space for the benefit of a private enterprise. I am not aware of any notices going up to warn of the event.


A bit of a tidy up

Onto the towpath and finally, the Canal and River Trust is removing the growing rubbish heap that had been created in and around a bag of grit that had been left on the grass verge by the path down to Grosvenor Bridge.

The Trust doesn’t provide proper rubbish bins and so – maybe – you can’t blame people for looking for somewhere to put litter. It’s one of the reasons we find so many discarded dog poo bags on the towpath too.


I am always full of admiration for the one-man team B&NES employs to keep the city clear of graffiti. Caught him at work on Grosvenor Bridge. The horrid concrete replacement for what was a fine suspension bridge that disappeared many years ago.

Finally – across Grosvenor Bridge – where the one-man-band that is the city’s Graffiti Unit was hard at work removing more evidence of this urban blight. It’s a spot from where l have often stopped to photograph a half-submerged tree up-river of the bridge on the Avon.


There’s life in that old river tree yet!

It’s bare branches look stark in the winter. I often wonder how long it will be before what is left of its roots gives way and the tree is carried off during the next rain-induced flood surge. Yet here – on this sunny morning – one of its branches was covered in new growth. Takes a lot to make Nature lose her grip.




A gallery stroll around the world.

A gallery stroll around the world.

Bath’s Holburne Museum is currently offering visitors the opportunity of travelling around the world without leaving its top-floor gallery.


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The Holburne Museum


It’s where you can experience a colourful taste of the work of artist Anthony Fry with this his first museum retrospective.

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Artist, Anthony Fry 1927-2016.

Fry – who died in 2016 – lived and worked near Bath for sixty years but made pictures that expressed his principal inspiration of travel.

Although he enjoyed great commercial success in Britain and America during his lifetime, his work has not previously been recognised by a major exhibition. Comprising works lent from prestigious private collections, the show reveals the considerable extent of his talent.

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Anthony Fry, Mango and Rice Paddies, Thirunelli, 1991, oil on canvas, 106 x 132 cm, Private Collection ©Permission kindly granted by the estate of Anthony Fry / Browse & Darby Ltd

Bath Newseum talked to the Holburne’s Director, Dr Chris Stephens about this special event.


Visit the exhibition between now and Sunday 15 April and you can take advantage of a TWO tickets for just £10 offer. 

To take advantage of the offer call 01225 388569 or purchase at the Holburne Museum. The offer is not available online.

The Exhibition is supported by The Linbury Trust, The Monument Trust, Browse & Darby

Meanwhile, David Simon contacted  Bath Newseum to say:

‘By happy coincidence, The Holburne exhibition of work by the late, well-known Modern British painter, Anthony Fry this month coincides with a solo exhibition of new paintings by veteran painter, Diana Matthews FRSA at my gallery. She was taught by Fry at the Bath Academy of Art in the 1950’s.”

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David Simon Contemporary
4 Bartlett Street

gallery@davidsimoncontemporary.com   /  01225 460189

Local artist makes shortlist for major prize.

Local artist makes shortlist for major prize.

Bath artist Charlotte Sorapure, has been chosen from over 1,000 artists to be shortlisted for a prestigious national art prize worth £15,000 to the winner.
Charlotte is one of 83 artists from across the UK shortlisted for the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize 2018, the UK’s leading competition for British contemporary representational painting and drawing. Having made the shortlist her work ‘The Letter’ will be exhibited at London’s Mall Galleries from 5–17 March.

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The Letter – painted by Bath-based Charlotte Sorapure.

1,144 artists entered this year’s competition – the highest number in the prize’s 13-year history.
Responding to the news of their shortlisting, Charlotte said: “In an artistic climate that tends to be preoccupied with novelty and gimmickry, the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize is very special, with its commitment to nurturing and supporting the continued development of figurative painting and draughtsmanship. I am very happy to have been included in this years exhibition”
Charlotte has been painting for over twenty-five years. She describes the overriding concerns of her work as being rooted in drawing, composition and colour.
‘The paintings often hint at a poetic awareness, rather than any literal narrative – hopefully emanating an underlying mood or atmosphere. In order to do so, one has to be constantly alert to possibilities in any potential subject; from the corner of the studio or a humble still life, to the pattern and movements of a crowd.
There is a gentle irony, humour and poignancy in the paintings, that life is rarely what it seems. The recognition of these fleeting, incidental and silent moments have the ability to resonate more powerfully, than grander schemes and gestures. Seeing the significant in the insignificant – peering under stones, so to speak’

Trained at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Charlotte is a figurative Artist living and working in Bath. She has exhibited mainly with Messum’s in London and Brian Sinfield Gallery in Burford. Winner of the 2012 Holburne Portrait Prize, she has also exhibited at the Victoria Art Gallery in  Bath as well as more broadly in the UK and abroad. She has produced commissioned Portraits and Murals including a portrait of the war photographer Don McCullin CBE for The Holburne Museum in Bath, which was unveiled in 2015.

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Don McCullin and Charlotte Sorapure – wither side of her portrait.

The Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize for representational art – art that seeks to capture the real world – offers total prize money of £30,000, comprising a first prize of £15,000 and a gold medal, second prize of £4,000 alongside the newly introduced People’s Prize worth £2,000. Young artists aged 25-or-under compete for the Young Artist Award of £4,000.

For further details visit www.lynnpainterstainersprize.org.uk

It’s amaze-ing!

It’s amaze-ing!

Hands up if you haven’t yet heard of the “Sydney Gardens Parks for People Heritage Lottery Fund Project.”

Yeh l know it’s a grand-sounding title, but it’s an ambitious scheme to restore one of Bath’s much-loved public spaces.


The main path through Sydney Gardens

Sydney Gardens has an historic past – it’s the only remaining eighteenth-century pleasure gardens in the country – but it also needs to appeal to the present.

The Project team – a mixture of ‘Friends’, B&NES, local residents’ groups and the Holburne Museum – are preparing stage 2 of a Heritage Lottery bid for over three million pounds which will hopefully secure its future.


The funding will be used to restore historic buildings, invest in landscape and garden restoration works, and create new play areas for all ages, over a three-year programme (2019 – 21).

Alongside the works, a programme of events and activities around art, nature, horticulture, wildlife, play, sport, archaeology and history will be put on. The project will celebrate the fascinating history of the gardens, with its Cosmorama, Labyrinth, Merlins Swing, Concerts, Public Breakfasts, Galas and Illuminations.


This was once the bowling green!

Sydney Gardens has gone through a period of decline.

It’s been sad to see the bowling club close – through a lack of new members – but it was here l caught up with Project Manager Keith Rowe to discover how its now-defunct bowling green is playing its part in planning one possible feature for the new-look gardens.

And – just days later – here’s the first cut of that mini labyrinth with Parks Department works Robert and Steve battling the elements to cut the first outline into the now defunct bowling green.


Parks Department member Robert is behind the mower and Steve on grass cuttings blowing duties.

As you have just heard, the next public consultation open day is on Saturday 25th November from 11.30am to 4.30pm at the Gardeners Lodge, in Sydney Gardens. Come and view the labyrinth and all the latest plans. You can give feedback and share your ideas too.


The scaled-down labyrinth beginning to take shape.

Catch up with the Project via http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport-leisure-and-parks/parks-green-spaces-information/sydney-gardens/sydney-gardens-parks-people-heritage-lottery-fund-project

Major new exhibitions at the Holburne in 2018.

Major new exhibitions at the Holburne in 2018.

The Holburne Museum in Bath has today announced its 2018 exhibitions programme, including the first museum retrospective of the painter Anthony Fry, the first exhibition to bring together Dutch seventeenth-century paintings from National Trust collections around the country, and an exhibition focussed on Thomas Gainsborough’s theatrical portraits. As well as curating these three major new exhibitions, the Museum will organise contemporary commissions and public events throughout the year, with further details to be announced.

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

Dr Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum, said: ‘We look forward with great excitement to 2018. We are delighted to be working in close partnership with the National Trust on the first exhibition to bring together their Dutch masterpieces, and to be presenting shows of two significant artists with local connections and of international recognition. Bringing together great art of the past and the present, from around the world and from nearby is what the Holburne is all about.’



Anthony Fry, Mango and Rice Paddies, Thirunelli, 1991, ©Private Collection / Permission kindly granted by the estate of Anthony Fry

Anthony Fry: A Retrospective 
(9 February – 7 May 2018) is the first major exhibition of the painter Anthony Fry (1927 – 2016). Though Fry enjoyed considerable commercial success in Britain and the United States this is his first museum retrospective. Comprising works lent from prestigious private collections, this exhibition will reveal the extent of his talent. Fry’s principal inspiration was his travels across Tuscany, Andalucía, India, Morocco and the Sahara Desert. He had an early introduction to art through his great aunt Marjorie Fry, sister of the art critic Roger Fry, and through her had contact with the Bloomsbury Group, and was cousin to the painter Howard Hodgkin. He sought a synthesis of the figurative tradition in which he had been trained and abstraction, most notably that of Mark Rothko.


Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait Wearing a White Feathered Bonnet © National Trust Images – Chris Titmus

Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses 
(25 May – 16 September 2018) will bring together Dutch seventeenth-century paintings from National Trust collections around the country for the first time, including works by masters of the ‘Golden Age’ such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Lely, Gabriel Metsu, Aelbert Cuyp and Cornelis de Heem. The National Trust cares for one of the largest and most significant collections of art in the UK, commissioned and collected by country house owners for over 300 years. The exhibition will explore what made Dutch art so sought after among country house owners and how Dutch art collecting in British country houses developed over the centuries, as tastes and interests changed.


Thomas Gainsborough, Mrs Siddons © The National Gallery, London

Gainsborough and the Theatre 
(5 October 2018 – 20 January 2019) celebrates Thomas Gainsborough’s close involvement with the theatre world of London and Bath. It will showcase some of his finest portraits of his friends in the theatre, creating a conversation between the leading actors, managers, musicians, playwrights, designers, dancers and critics of the 1760s to 1780s. It shows how his work with the likes of David Garrick in Bath launched his career there and later in London, and how actors enabled him to explore naturalism in portraiture, just as they and their contemporaries turned to less artificial forms of performance in theatre, music and dance. Themes of celebrity and friendship will also be explored through some of the most touching likenesses by “the most faithful disciple of Nature that ever painted.”



Anthony Fry: A Retrospective
The Holburne Museum, Bath
9 February – 7 May 2018
£10 | £9 concession | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s

Prized Possessions: Dutch Paintings from National Trust Houses
25 May – 16 September 2018
£10 | £9 concession | £7.50 National Trust Members | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s

Gainsborough and the Theatre
5 October 2018 – 20 January 2019
£10 | £9 concession | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s

It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

I suppose –  be it a traditional portrait or landscape painting framed on the gallery wall – all realistic visual art is an illusion. Be it faces or places, it’s our brains who merge paint daubs and strokes into order as a recognisable image.

Perception is all about how we see things – how we make sense of it all.

Bath’s Holburne Museum heads towards the darker months of late autumn and winter with a striking and – in part – vibrantly colourful exhibition which is all about the tricks an artist can play on the viewer.


The new exhibition at the Holburne Museum

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception comes to us from Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park. It’s sharp, vibrant, informative and playful. Forget the gloom outside and  immerse yourself  in  galleries where the eyes play tricks.

To quote from the Holburne’s on-line webpage:

“This exhibition will explore one of the most exciting threads of art history of the past 150 years. Many artists from the Impressionists onwards were inspired by scientific colour theories, such as the pointillist work of Georges Seurat, where colours other than those actually painted on the canvas are generated in the eye of the viewer.


During the 20th century this interest in perception extended to creating a sense of movement and a variety of artists from the Vorticists to Josef Albers looked at using form, and often colour, to convey the sensation of movement.

This interest intensified in the 1950s and 1960s in what came to be known as ‘Op Art’ and ‘Kinetic Art’, exemplified by the work of artists such as Victor Vasarely, Bridget Riley, Jeffrey Steele and Peter Sedgley.

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Tom Boggis – Curator of Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception.

This art has had a bold legacy right up to the present, not only in the further development of some of these artists but also in the work of others including Carlos Cruz-Diez, Jim Lambie and Sara Moorhouse.”


No photography allowed in here!

It’s all there to view – and interact with – in an exhibition curated by Tom Boggis.

Bath Newseum went down for a chat with him but, because of copyright issues, that had to take place outside the exhibition’s closed doors.

The Holburne Museum’s website can be found at www.holburne.org 

The exhibition runs from Friday, October 20th through to Sunday, January 21st next year.

Admission is £10/£9 concs/ Free to all Museum Members. Under 16s go FREE (Under 12s must be accompanied by an adult).

Shine a light on SouthGate.

Shine a light on SouthGate.

It may have decided it couldn’t afford the time or money to continue with organising the city’s annual lantern procession but Bath’s Holburne Museum has now got itself involved in another light show.

It’s being consulted by the design company behind radical new proposals to enliven and enhance the public spaces within the Southgate Shopping Centre.

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How the community might be involved in a lantern sculpture.

One aspect of the new design would involve a ‘sculptural lantern element’ – a community artwork ‘ to get input into the words and prose that could be used with the lantern design to represent the local area.’ The Holburne has been approached to ‘begin the dialogue on getting the community involved in this artwork.’

These details form part of a planning application that has been submitted to B&NES which is aimed at enhancing the large central space within the SouthGate Centre and in Brunel Square – alongside Bath Spa Station –  encouraging footfall with both permanent and temporary ‘interventions.’Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 15.40.33Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 15.41.04


In documents you can view on line the application explains:

‘SouthGate already hosts a successful series of events throughout the year, connecting in with the City’s busy festival programme.

The events hosted within Brunel Square and the colourful umbrellas, for example, show how contemporary, playful interventions within the public realm make a big impact on visitors arriving from the train station, showcasing the vibrant character of the City of Bath.

The proposed public realm placemaking initiatives aim to continue to foster these popular seasonal events whilst also enhancing the Centre’s public realm during ‘every day’ modes when there are no events on.

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The proposals look at the spaces and streets as a key journey from the train station to the City Centre, which SouthGate forms a key part of.

By enlivening SouthGate’s public realm through a series of temporary and permanent interventions, the aim is to enhance the experience for people as they pass through and dwell within SouthGate.’

The big central area within SouthGate would be transformed.

‘The Place’ is the central pedestrianised space at the heart of the SouthGate Centre. The intention is to create a ‘permanent’ Pocket Park to enhance the quality of this public space during ‘everyday’ mode.

There will also be a more exible space for events and for circulation, working in tandem with SouthGate’s events calender.

Within this exible space, it is proposed that planting / seating platforms populate this space when no events are on. These are designed to be de-constructed and re-located when the spaces is required for events to ensure that the space is a multi-functional and exible as possible.

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Proposals involve tying in with city festival events so that objects other than just coloured umbrellas can be used in the centre’s shopping avenues. There will be room for  music and even cinema.

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Bath Newseum is actively seeking a spokesperson to tell us more.