In Bath, we rust.

In Bath, we rust.

There’s a good chance those rust-covered and expensive planters may stay on the London Road after all – though maybe in different positions.


The irony of moving the container when it clearly bears a message referring to the London Road – supreme gateway to Bath – is not lost on me.

Took B&NES a couple of years to take action on a safety audit that had suggested the trees planted in some of them obscured the vision of motorists pulling out from side roads.


Will the planters now be allowed to stay?

So – suddenly – the trees are ripped out or sawn off – and the artist-produced containers – that were designed to rust and which bear poetic quotes – seems destined for scrapping or replacing some of those unattractive (but necessary) concrete blocks in the city centre.

However, l hear there has been a softening of attitudes in that – as long as the safety issue is addressed – the planters can stay where they are or be moved slightly to new sites on the London Road where there is no obstruction to worry about.


Crouching down to car driver level. I can still see what’s coming.

Have to say l crouched down to car driver level to take some pictures this morning and – as long as they are re-dressed with low growing plants – l cannot see any problem.


A B&NES spokesperson said they are looking into the business of visibility:

“The Council is still investigating issues caused by the positioning of the planters. One tree has been removed because it was dying and others removed temporarily and replanted whilst the Council gives further consideration to the issue of visibility at junctions on this stretch of London Road.

The positioning of the bus shelter will also be checked as part of the work on junction visibility. ”



Polluted paradise.

Polluted paradise.

Popped into the BRLSI-  amongst other things, for me the city’s unofficial ‘Museum of Bath’ – yesterday to catch Collection’s Manager Matt Williams and Graphic designer Jude Harris busy setting up the summer exhibition which opens today (Saturday, April 21st).


Collections Manager, Matt Williams with some of the vivid photographs within the exhibition which illustrate environmental damage to the Pacific Ocean.

The Institution is inviting the public to come in and explore four different themes concerning the Pacific Ocean – a sea so vast that ALL the Earth’s landmasses would fit into its basin.


‘Bleached’ coral reefs where environmental issues are upsetting the ecosystems that operate beneath the waves.

There is no charge so come and explore the material culture of the indigenous island peoples of the Pacific – including war clubs, drums, jewellery and beaded clothing.


Beads and gourds – Pacific culture on display.

The exhibition also examines the diversity of marine life which is shown by some of the beautiful shells donated by 19th-century naturalist collectors.

You can learn about the history and significance of the Wallace Line, an invisible boundary (named after 19th-century British naturalist Alfred Wallace) which separates the distinctive ecozones of Asia and Australasia – with tigers, barbets and woodpeckers on one side, for example, and marsupials, honeyeaters and cockatoos on the other.


Still in the process of setting up – but here’s a photo illustrating how some islands will be submerged by rising sea levels.

For me, the themes that really hit home are the damage – we the human race are doing -with the ocean under threat as pollution and climate-change impacts on Pacific ecosystems and communities.


Rising sea levels threaten to swamp whole islands and plastic – floating on the ocean surface – is being mistaken for food and fed to bird chicks!

The exhibition is illustrated by prints from four renowned international photo-journalists – Chris Jordan, Ciril Jazbec, Jonas Gratzer and Remi Chauvin – highlighting the impact of environmental change on the wildlife and peoples of the Pacific.


Pacific – Ocean of Islands‘ runs until September 22nd. It is free to enter and the ground floor gallery is open from 10 am to 4pm Monday to Saturday. You will find the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square.

Engraved in wood

Engraved in wood

A piece of work by a locally-based artist is taking pride of place in an amazing display of delicate craftsmanship currently on show in Bath.


The exhibition is being held at the BRSLI in Queen Square

BRSLI in Queen Square is hosting the 80th annual exhibition of The Society of Wood Engravers and one of its star pieces is a work by Jane Randfield which has been awarded the SWE prize for a first-time exhibitor.

Randfield, Jane Old Vine at the Three Choirs

Jane Randfield’s “Old Vine at the Three Choirs” won prize for first time exhibitor. Jane lives in Bath.

Wood engraving is at once the simplest and one of the most exquisite forms of printmaking. The print is made, first, by engraving the reversed design or picture to be printed into the mirror-smooth surface of a block of endgrain wood.

Boxwood is best, though cheaper alternatives such as lemonwood and synthetic materials are now frequently used.


Secondly, the block is rolled up with ink (on its top surface) and printed onto paper. The cuts that were made into the wood therefore come out as white, the remaining top surface which gets inked, as black; the artist is, in effect, drawing with light – with a white mark as opposed to the black mark that comes from a pencil, brush or pen.


Some of the tools of the trade.

Most wood engravings tend to be closely worked and relatively small because the tools used are finely pointed. Because the finesse of wood engraving produces a particularly rich tonal range, wood engravings are usually, but by no means exclusively, black and white.



Part of the exhibition at the BRSLI.


The Society of Wood Engravers was founded in 1920 by a group of artists that included Philip Hagreen, Robert Gibbings, Lucien Pissaro, Gwen Raverat and Eric Gill. They held an annual exhibition that attracted work from other notable artists such as David Jones, John and Paul Nash, Paul Gauguin and Clare Leighton.


Lindsley, Kathleen Puffins

Kathleen Lindsley, Puffins


The group thrived until war broke out, disrupted the demand for their work and cut the supply of materials. In the years that followed, there was a return to the annual exhibition but the group and the cultural context had changed.



A more contemporary work by Jim Westergard – Statue of Limitations.


After a decade in which there were no exhibitions, the SWE was revived in the early 1980s and has built up an international reputation for excellence. The regular activities of the Society are its annual touring exhibition, quarterly journal ‘Multiples’ and monthly Newsletter.


The exhibition, stringently selected from an open submission, visits several venues each year, showing the best of current work from Britain and other countries.

It’s a wonderful mixture of traditional and contemporary work.

Robertson, David Progress?

The exhibition also features contemporary work like this one from David Robertson, Progress?

It is currently at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square until January 22nd. Admission is free.



On the Queen Square trail

On the Queen Square trail

With Bath’s amazing Roman remains – and outstanding Georgian architecture – it will come as no surprise to hear that there are plenty of guide books and histories in the bookshops to choose when you come to look around this World Heritage city.

There are plenty of guided tours to join too.


The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution in Queen Square.

So what’s different about the city ‘trails’ being created by volunteers at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution.

Well l can tell you.

The people creating them are all under the age of 18 – and these are self-guided walks designed with young people in mind!


Some of the trail leaflets the youngsters at BRSLI have helped produce.

So far they’ve published leaflets covering everything from Adelard – the local man who became England’s first mathematician – to a Science Trail that will introduce you to Bath’s famous scientists, explorers and inventors.


The youngsters who want your help in producing a leaflet on Queen Square.

The latest leaflet being prepared involves finding out more about a modest park area on the doorstep of the BRSLI – the lawn in Queen Square.


Beatrice Richens and Ralph Bridge are two of the young people leading the research into the Queen Square lawn.

The youngsters involved in research are members of  the Young BRSLI or Science Cadets – and they need your help.

tree trail ed

Here’s a rough idea of how far they have got with the new Queen Square trail.

tree trail front and back

They still need to hear from anyone with a story to tell which involves the tree-covered lawn in the middle of Queen Square – so they can expand on its social history.


Lisa Buddrus and some of the youngsters involved in producing the new trail leaflet.

I asked Coordinator, Lisa Buddrus to tell me more.

If you think you can help with the Queen Square research or want to find out more information about the trail leaflets or Young BRSLI then the contact email is:

That’s the one to use to find out more on the Young BRLSI or book onto workshops and the Young Researchers, too.

You can also check out the BRSLI website https://www.brlsi.org

The Institution is also recruiting for the BRSLI Young Researchers. So please look below!

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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.

Oh, what a night!

Oh, what a night!

The fine and dry weather certainly helped, but it was the sheer talent and enthusiasm of those taking part in this year’s free Bath Festival  ‘Jump In – Party in the City’  that got the opening night celebrations off to such a great start.


Crowds gather in Milsom Street – renamed Carnival Street for last night’s free party in the street.

The ten day event is always launched by holding Bath’s biggest free party with hundreds of  musical and theatrical performances at venues across the city. Involving everything from the ‘chapel’ at the Gainsborough Spa Hotel to the city’s stage on wheels – The Bath Theatre Bus!


Got to be Bath’s smallest theatre venue.

Thirty six venues in total – and l can only talk about the events my partner and l managed to catch – but congratulations all round to those who gave their time and talents for free.


The preview crowd party for this year’s annual exhibition by Bath Society of Artists.

We started with the opening party for this year’s 112th annual exhibition by Bath Society of Artists at the Victoria Art Gallery. That’s open to the public today – through to July 15th.


44AD’s Open Studios event


Broose – our gallery entertainer.

Then across to Abbey Green and into 44AD – a well-known art gallery holding an open week-end and music from a Texan musician called Broose.


Looking in from outside the Abbey’s West Door.

Great to see the large wooden doors of Bath Abbey’s West Front wide open and people overflowing from a crowded nave inside. The church was hosting seven different musical events – right through to the unaccompanied ‘choral compline’ – sung by the Abbey girl’s and men’s choir which ended proceedings at 10pm.


Chapel entertainment at The Gainsborough.

Then across to the 5 star Gainsborough Spa Hotel – a listed building that started life as the city’s general hospital – and musical events in what was the infirmary’s former chapel. Watched and listened to close-harmony group The Noteables while munching on complimentary olives and Japanese crackers.


Bath Natural Theatre at play.


What a whopper.

Heading up Milsom Street – renamed Carnival Street for the evening – and stopping to enjoy the antics of Bath’s much loved Natural Theatre Company.


We’ve lost our aeroplane?

Spot the life savers, trawler men and flight attendants giving their pavement performances.

Bath Carnival held a costume making workshop and then celebrated their achievements.


Music in Queen Square

Queen Square found Moles Club hosting a live music event and – while there appeared to be some sort of 200 people limit on the numbers allowed into the fenced inner lawns, a long queue that had formed outside was eventually let in.

We were heading for the lawns in front of the Royal Crescent to see a special projection on the face of No 1 – home of Bath Preservation Trust. Yesterday – May 19th – was the 250th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone.


Getting the projector ready outside No 1 Royal Crescent

Not quite dark enough to see the ‘Words On Stone’  poetry projection when we passed through – but l am sure it became more impressive as darkness fell.


One of the haikus

Poet Nick Compton – too his inspiration from Japanese haiku to produce 7 seventeen syllable poems inspired by Royal Crescent onto the building.


Poet Nick Compton gets to see his name in lights. That’s Dr Amy Frost from Bath Preservation Trust on his left

Lots more events on Sunday, May 21st to celebrate the iconic Crescent’s anniversary. See



Then a slow walk home – past the celebrations in Alfred Street – where Woods Restaurant were hosting an Australian punk band called The Meanies and the Bath Theatre Bus was parked up and full for even more mini-staged musical activity.


The Meanies in action!


Inside the Bath Theatre Bus

And so to bed. Thanks entertainers and do check out for more information about forthcoming events.

Pedal power

Pedal power

Great to know the Tour of Britain cycle race is passing through Bath in September and it solves the mystery – l am led to believe – of why there are individual bikes hanging on the facades of some of our city’s most iconic architectural urban spaces.


The bike on the north side of Queen Square – and on the exterior of the house architect John Wood once lived in!

As a Mayor’s Guide, l spotted the first one after bringing my group of eager-to-learn-about-this-World-Heritage-city tourists up into Queen Square.

They pointed out the one hanging in front of  the grand north side – a marvellous Georgian structure – once described  by architectural guides historian Sir Nicholas Pevsner as ‘one of the finest Palladian compositions in England designed before 1730’.


I spotted the next one – roped to the parapet in The Circus.

While l share the city’s excitement – and its involvement in a major sporting event – l can’t help but wonder if this is the best way of showing off some of our most iconic spaces to some of the four million plus people who visit us every year.


A bit of Tour of Britain cycle race advertising in The Circus.

My little group were lost for words as to how we could so nonchalantly use the fabric of two John Wood masterpieces in this way.

It’s also a ‘novelty’ form of advertising that is wasted on them as they are just passing through.

You expect to see an inventive display of cycle power in the Southgate Shopping Centre – and it is well done too!

Commerce attracts and expects such innovative installations. It draws the crowds to fuel business – but surely the architectural showpieces that people come to see, promote themselves by shape, form and decoration and are made less by such temporary adornments. It’s a way of scarring their stone faces and this is a ‘rash’ that may spread?

I never thought l would say l prefer street stencils. What do others think?