Time for local art to shine.

Time for local art to shine.

It’s that time of the year again – when local artistic talent competes for space on the gallery walls – at the Victoria Art Gallery – for the annual exhibition of the Bath Society of Artists.

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It’s an organisation that’s grown from the 26 people who came together to found it in 1904 to approximately 120 today.

The membership includes professional and part-time artists who live in Bath and the surrounding area.


Artists and guests pictured at last night’s preview.

Many distinguished artists have exhibited with the Society – among them John Singer Sargent, Philip Wilson Steer, Walter Sickert and Howard Hodgkin.


The Bath Society of Artists £1,000 Prize this year went to Benedict Doonan for ‘Beach Structure No.5’

The Society’s Chairman is Susanna Lisle.


The exhibition opens to the public today – Saturday, March 24th and continues until May 12th. It’s open daily between 10.30 and 5.00pm.


David Simon of the David Simon Contemporary Gallery in Bartlett Street, who sponsored this year’s Sculpture Prize. The winner – who’ll get an exhibition at David’s gallery – was Martin Elphick with ‘Wind and Sea’ – bronze and stone.

Entry to the exhibition is £4.50 / concs. / 16 and under and Discovery Card holders free. More on this and other events via https://www.victoriagal.org.uk


Kaffe brings on the colour

Kaffe brings on the colour

Internationally-renowned colour expert and fabric designer Kaffe Fassett will make a welcome return to Bath in May with a new exhibition at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Victoria Art Gallery. When Fassett and Candace Bahouth last showed here in 2008 the Gallery welcomed a record-breaking 31,000 visitors.

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Kaffe Fassett – pictured at the American Museum where he held an exhibition a few years ago.

Inspired by flowers all his life, Fassett will demonstrate his full creative flair in this stunning new exhibition, A Celebration of Flowers. With a bespoke dazzling colour scheme to match, the installation will transform the Gallery using 40 of his vibrant coloured quilts and needlepoints.

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Kaffe Fassett, Seed packet quilt

The show will also feature colourful mosaiced island gardens, benches, totems, mirror frames, shoes, flower-encrusted candlesticks and a chandelier by one of Fassett’s long-term collaborators, fellow American Candace Bahouth, who is based in Somerset. Many of these works are on a large scale and extend the floral theme into three dimensions.

Kaffe Fassett, Bouquet Needlepoint (low res)

Kaffe Fassett, Bouquet Needlepoint


Councillor Paul Myers (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield), Cabinet Member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “These two stunning exhibitions will appeal to a wide range of audiences, both residents and visitors, when they show at the gallery over the summer and I hope attract as many, if not more, visitors as the last time.”


Kaffe Fassett said: “Since colour is my obsession in art, I am fascinated by flowers as a subject. This show celebrates my recent book on the floral world called Bold Blooms.”


Candace Bahouth added: “My encrusted mosaics are inspired by nature, ceramics and textiles. Come and be immersed. Escape, dream, reflect…in a world of fantasy, pattern, colour and delight!”


Kaffe Fassett

Kaffe Fassett is one of the world’s most renowned textile designers. His work has been exhibited at museums worldwide and is in many permanent collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He continues to travel worldwide to lecture, teach, and promote his work.

Born in 1937, Fassett spent much of his youth in the creative community of Big Sur, California. He moved to England as a student in the 1960s and spent some time living in Bath, where he was inspired by quilts in the American Museum.

Starting out as a fine artist, he ventured into the world of colourful yarn on a visit to a Scottish wool mill where, inspired by the colours in the landscape, he was thrilled to find yarns in the same colours. On the train back to London a fellow passenger taught him how to knit.

Candace Bahouth

A graduate in fine art from Syracuse University, Bahouth settled in rural Somerset, where she developed her unique facility for expression in mosaics using found material from nature as well as fragments of china and even high-tech plastics. Many of her creations are designed on a large scale to fit within garden settings. Her work also features in many permanent exhibitions, including the Victoria and Albert Museum.

During the exhibition, the Victoria Art Gallery shop will be selling a beautiful range of gifts and homeware featuring Kaffe Fassett’s unique and fabulous designs.


There will be a series of talks and tours to accompany the show, including:

Lunchtime exhibition tours

Every Thursday, 24 May to 23 August inclusive, 12.30pm-1pm

Free to ticket holders and Discovery Card holders.

Lunchtime talk by Candace Bahouth

Wednesday 27 June, 1.10pm-1.45pm

A free lunchtime talk by Candace Bahouth at The Guildhall, Bath.

Kaffe Fassett: Colour and Inspiration

Wednesday 25 July, The Assembly Rooms

A talk by Kaffe Fassett at the Assembly Rooms in Bath.

Tickets available at £12.00/£11.00 concessions from Bath Box Office (www.bathboxoffice.org.uk) from 2 April 2018.




How tree rings help solve a Tudor mystery

How tree rings help solve a Tudor mystery

The most powerful image we have today of Henry the Eighth is thanks to a portrait the Monarch commissioned from a German painter called Hans Holbein the Younger.



The painting of Henry V111 at the Victoria Art Gallery


It originally featured in a mural that also included the king’s wife – Jane Seymour- and his parents – Henry the 7th and Elizabeth of York.

The original was destroyed when Whitehall Palace was consumed by fire in 1698 but – thankfully – Henry recognised the iconic importance of this royal image and encouraged other artists to paint their own copies of the work to circulate amongst friends and ambassadors.


Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery was hoping the image of Henry they had in their collection was one of these Tudor copies but – until now – they couldn’t be sure.



I have been along to talk to Collections Manager Katharine Wall to find out more about how their image of Henry has been put to the test.

I asked her first to explain how it came into their collection.


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

Portrait of a king is truly Tudor!

Portrait of a king is truly Tudor!


A painting of Henry VIII belonging to Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Victoria Art Gallery has been confirmed as an original Tudor work.

The portrait was recently sent away for essential conservation work and, at the same time, was dated by specialists using dendrochronology (looking at tree rings to date the wood the picture is painted on).


The picture, by an unknown artist, is estimated to have been painted between 1537 and 1557. It was given to the council in the 19th century and, although it has always been recognised as a very good portrait, curators at the gallery have always wondered if it actually does date from Tudor times.

Like many portraits of Henry VIII, it was copied from the Whitehall mural, which was painted in 1537 by Hans Holbein the Younger for Henry VIII’s apartment at Whitehall Palace. The original no longer exists as Whitehall Palace was destroyed by fire in1698.

The dating of the painting was paid for by the Friends of the Victoria Art Gallery. The Chairman, Michael Rowe, said: “The Friends of the Gallery are committed to supporting original research into the gallery collections and were delighted to fund the dendrochronology. We look forward to further research into the origins of this important picture.”

Councillor Paul Myers, cabinet member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “This is one of the oldest and best pictures of Henry VIII in the world, and we are very fortunate to have it in the council’s public art collection. The painting will soon be back on display at the Victoria Art Gallery, where visitors will be able to see it for free in the Upper Gallery.”


Heritage half-term fun on offer in Bath.

Heritage half-term fun on offer in Bath.

Hands-on, half-term fun for families coming up at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery.

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The Roman Baths.

Kids can get creative and a make laurel crown, add sparkle to a royal tiara, design a Georgian hat, dress like a Roman in a toga, or create a stylish sedan chair.

All activities are included in the normal admission price. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Councillor Paul Myers, (Conservative Midsomer Norton Redfield) cabinet member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “There’s something for children of all ages to do in our museums over the half-term holidays. The great news for local families is that all activities are free for Bath & North East Somerset residents with a Discovery Card. We hope this will encourage local parents and carers to sign up for a Discovery Card if they don’t already have one, as well as attracting new visitors into our museums.”

Togas and Tunics

The Roman Baths

Saturday 10, Sunday 11, Saturday 17, Sunday 18 February 2018, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm

Find out how the Romans dressed and try on a toga.

Caesar’s Secrets

The Roman Baths

Monday 12-Friday 16 February 2018, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm

Learn about Julius Caesar and use his secret code to make a Roman laurel crown.

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Fashion Museum Bath

Top It Off

Fashion Museum Bath

Thursday 15 February 2018, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm

Top off your outfit by creating a tiara, crown or sash and explore the new Royal Women exhibition.

Hats Off to Bath

Victoria Art Gallery

Wednesday 14 February 2018, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm

Turn yourself into a Georgian with hats and headgear. Ages 3 to 7.

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

Go Out in Style

Victoria Art Gallery

Friday 16 February 2018, 10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm

Create a sedan chair fit for a king. Ages 6 to 11.


One of the genuine articles. On display at the Assembly Rooms.






Let us entertain you!

Let us entertain you!

There’s nothing new about ensuring visitors to Bath are duly entertained – especially if they’ve come to ‘take the waters’ and came during a historical period when visiting meant not a couple of days but anything from three weeks to three months.


Entertainment in Bath continues through to March 14. Admission includes a free audio guide. There is no charge to Bathonians producing their Discovery cards.

A new exhibition at the city’s Victoria Art Gallery is based around the story of entertainment in Bath – from the city’s Georgian heyday until the present day.

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This is Richard Beau Nash. While he was Master of Ceremonies – from 1704 until his death in 1761 – Bath became the most fashionable resort in 18th Century England.

During the 18th century Bath was second only to London for the quality and variety of the music, art and theatre that were on offer. Although these and other high-minded activities were a vital part of Georgian Bath’s social scene, this was not the whole picture.

There was also a seedy side to the city. Gambling and prostitution were rife – and very much part of Bath’s appeal to those who came here for hedonistic reasons.


During the 1960s and 1970s, the Roman Rendevous gave people an opportunity to bathe in hot spring water in the unique surroundings of the Great Roman Bath.

The exhibition looks at the events, activities and performances those former residents and visitors enjoyed. It also brings the story up to date, covering Bath International Music Festival, and infamous pop concerts and events that many local people will remember.


Fireworks over the Royal Crescent as part of Bath Festival celebrations in 1981.

It gathers together the stories about the people, places and attractions that made Georgian Bath such a vibrant centre – with more recent manifestations like the Bath Festival that is to some extent a legacy from that time.


Parade Gardens was formerly known as The Institution Gardens in the 19th century.

Entertainment in Bath celebrates the city’s cultural history with a huge variety of prints and watercolours from the Gallery’s own collection – alongside loans from the Royal Collection and the National Portrait Gallery.


How British Railways prompted the city of Bath and its famous visitors and residents.

It has been curated by Katharine Wall who met Bath Newseum to tell us more.

Entertainment in Bath runs through to March 14th.

It includes special performances by Bath Spa University drama students who will be bringing ‘Entertainment in Bath’ to life Saturdays 10, 17 and 24 February and again on March 3rd. All from 12 pm to 2pm.