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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.’

2018 EXHIBITIONS PROGRAMME

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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.

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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.

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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.”

 

LISTINGS INFORMATION

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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!

 

Let’s ‘twin’ museums says Holburne’s new director to Bath’s Dutch friends.

Let’s ‘twin’ museums says Holburne’s new director to Bath’s Dutch friends.

An exchange of artwork between Bath’s Holburne Museum and one of the Netherland’s oldest museums is on the cards following a town-twinning reception held in our Georgian city last night.

It was organised to help celebrate 70 years of international friendship – between Bath and the city of Alkmaar in northern Holland.

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The Mayor of Alkmaar – Burgomeester Piet Bruinooge  and his wife Elly – inspecting a display of Dutch silver at the Holburne Museum reception.

It was also the first public engagement for the Holburne’s new Director, Dr Chris Stephens.

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The new Director of the Holburne Museum, Dr Chris Stephens.

He welcomed everyone to the museum and hoped an ‘ association’ might develop between the Holburne and the Stedelijk Museum in Alkmaar.

Forgive the sound quality of an impromptu recording.

Bath has been hosting a week of festivities for the Mayor of Alkmaar, Mr Piet Bruinooge and a delegation from the Dutch town.

The Bath-Alkmaar friendship goes back to the days of World War Two when a young Dutch Jewish playwright – Elias Prins –  escaped the advancing Nazis and ended up in Bath working as an air raid warden.

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L to R. Mayor of Bath, Cllr Ian Gilchrist; Dr Chris Stephens, Director of Holburne Museum, and the out-going Chairman of the Bath-Alkmaar Twinning Association, Mr Martin Broadbent.

He quickly became a well-known local figure through the many talks he gave to community groups and schools about the plight of his people.

Bathonians – inspired by Eli and his new friends in the local Rotary Club – decided to launch its own Alkmaar Appeal – and with the blessing of the Dutch sovereign, HRH Queen Wilhelmina.

It makes Bath’s ties with Alkmaar the oldest official ‘twinning’ link of any which came out of the war.

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L to R Professor Gwythian Prins receiving a ‘Certificate of Honorary Membership’ from out-going Association Chairman Martin Broadbent.

At the Holburne reception, Professor Gwythian Prins – the Bath-born son of Elias Prins – was given an Honorary Membership Certificate of the Twinning Association and an Alkmaar Medal of Friendship by the Mayor of the Dutch town.

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Professor Gwythian Prins receiving an ‘Alkmaar Medal of Friendship’ from Burgomeester, Mr Piet Bruinooge.

The Association has also arranged two Concerts to be held on Saturday 15 July and Sunday 16 July, featuring the fabulous Alkmaar Youth Orchestra with special guests, re-telling a tale of tragedy, daring escape and international friendship in music and readings, rounding off a week of Anglo-Dutch celebrations in Bath.
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The Mayor (Councillor Ian Gilchrist) will attend the Concert on Saturday, and the Deputy Mayor (Councillor Rob Appleyard) will attend the family Concert on the Sunday.
Find out more about the Bath-Alkmaar Association – and read the amazing full story of how it came about – via www.Bath-Alkmaar.eu
Earlier in the day, a memorial service was held at St Swithins, Bathford to remember Elias Prins and especially his parents and family who were all murdered in the Sobibor concentration camp.
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Eli and Ida’s son Gwythian speaking at the memorial service in Bathford.

Memorial stones for Eli and his wife Ida are in the graveyard of the church in the village in which they lived.
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The memorial to Eli and Ida Prins at Bathford

Children from Bathford Primary School were also at the event.
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Children from Bathford Primary School look on as kaddish – an ancient Jewish prayer – is spoken at the memorial to Eli and Ida Prins.

 

 

 

The threads of life.

The threads of life.

How do you follow your most successful exhibition in years? Why – with something completely different of course.

Bath’s Holburne Museum recently wowed visitors with a display of Flemish talent which brought together a variety of work across the whole Bruegel family dynasty – for the first time in this country.

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Now be prepared to move away from the 16th century and come right up to date – but with an art form that would have graced the walls of Henry the Eight’s Hampton Court Palace.

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We’re talking tapestry – a form of textile art – but not as we normally think about it. The new exhibition – Tapestry: Here and Now – makes it clear we are not talking about Baronial walls but an ambitious survey of contemporary tapestry from a range of international artists – engaging with political, aesthetic and personal issues of contemporary relevance. As Catrin Jones, the Museum’s Curator of Decorative Arts, explains.

The exhibition runs from Friday, June 23rd through to October 1st. I have had a sneak preview of the works on display and must say they are both colourful and provocative.

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Saori Sakai, detail of ‘Let’s Pretend.’

 

They exhibit both vision and dedication and use an ancient skill – and its materials – to produce pictorial representations of contemporary issues – like war, the environment, identity and memory. Read them anyway you will. I am sure you will be impressed.

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Tonje Hodahl Sorli, detail of ‘Bloom, And Jolly Future’.

What l found relevant is how their quite striking vibrancy gives us some idea of the original colours of more ancient works which – like memory itself – fades over the years.

Ironically, Henry the Eighth’s 28-foot long tapestry at Hampton Court has been ‘virtually restored’ using coloured light beams.

See:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/5131200/Henry-VIIIs-500-year-old-tapestry-gets-21st-century-makeover.html

FOR YOUR INFORMATION:

Tapestry: Here & Now

The Holburne Museum

23 June – 1 October 2017

£10 | £9 concession | £5 Art Fund | Free to all Museum Members and under 16s

A touring exhibition from The National Centre for Craft & Design

The Holburne Museum, Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4DB
Open daily, free admission 10am – 5pm (11am – 5pm Sundays and Bank Holidays)
T: 01225 388569 | E: enquiries@holburne.org | www.holburne.org