‘The East of Bath issue.’ Hopes for reducing city’s traffic load.

‘The East of Bath issue.’ Hopes for reducing city’s traffic load.

The Leader of Bath and North Somerset Council wanted to show me something. Cllr Paul Crossley led me down through Green Park Station and along the river bank – and past Sainsbury’s – to point with pride at the newly refurbished Victoria Bridge.

Cllr Crossley showing me the newly refurbished  Victoria Bridge.

Cllr Crossley showing me the newly refurbished Victoria Bridge.

It’s cost the Council 3.4 million to almost completely rebuild it – apart from the stone pylons – but it’s now once more a vital pedestrian and cycle connection between Upper and Lower Bristol Roads.

It is also an historic link with the past for the growing population moving into the new housing springing up on Bath Riverside.

The bridge will get an official re-opening in mid-January.

The bridge will get an official re-opening in mid-January.

If only sorting out the rest of the city’s transport problems and traffic congestion was as easy.

Over coffee at a local café we discussed the issue and events during the year that had both pleased and disappointed him.

But first, the good news about Bath’s own Victorian suspension bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coin it in!

Coin it in!

The Beau Street Hoard will be back on display at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Roman Baths just after Christmas – and there’s a chance for a lucky visitor to win a top secret prize.

Some of the cleaned coins.

Some of the cleaned coins.

The Beau Street Hoard roadshow has been touring the Bath and North East Somerset area and beyond for several months but every so often the team like to show off some of the 17,577 Roman coins on their own turf.

On Saturday 27 December, the Council’s Beau Street Hoard team presents ‘Silver Silhouettes’ at the Roman Baths. From 11am to 3pm, you can make your own Roman coin to take home and there will be displays, hands-on activities for the kids, and the chance to win prizes.

People paying a post-Christmas visit will be in with a chance of winning a top secret prize – simply by striking a pose next to a giant Roman coin and posting a photograph on social media. All you have to do to enter the competition is to send the Beau Street
Hoard team your photo through Facebook or Twitter – the most creative coin wins!

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said: “The Beau Street Hoard Roadshow has been an enormous success so far. Hundreds of people have already had the opportunity to enjoy looking at these fantastic Roman coins during the roadshow visits.

“Now, we’d encourage anyone who has not yet been to a roadshow to seize this opportunity to come and see and experience this fabulous display – coupled with some post-Christmas activities for both children and adults and a fun competition that everyone can enter.”

Like the coins on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BeauStHoard or follow the coins on Twitter @BeauStHoard. Alternatively, take a look at the http://www.romanbaths.co.uk events section for more information.

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

The hoard lifted by crane ©Cotswold Archaeology

FOR YOUR INFORMATION: The Beau Street Hoard was excavated by archaeologists on the site of the new Gainsborough Hotel in Beau Street, Bath, in 2007. The 17,577 Roman coins span the period from 32BC – 275AD and were found in eight separate money bags, which were fused together.

In March 2014, Bath & North East Somerset Council was awarded a grant of £372,500 from The Heritage Lottery Fund to purchase the hoard, and, from February 2015, it will be on permanent public display in a new interactive exhibit within the Aquae Sulis Gallery at The Roman Baths.

Canaletto, Contemporary Art and some great Brits! Holburne’s 2015 programme.

Canaletto, Contemporary Art and some great Brits! Holburne’s 2015 programme.

The Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum

Four months to the day after she officially started her new job , the Director of Bath’s  Holburne Museum faced the Virtual Museum’s camera to promise that – alongside the museum’s amazing permanent collection – there would always be something new to see in the coming year.

Jennifer Scott comes to the city  from the Royal Collection where she was Curator of Paintings.

I wanted to find out more about the Holburne’s programme for 2015. Seems it’s a mixture of contemporary takes on the permanent collection, a little known local collection getting a bigger audience and a Summer Canaletto in Britain blockbuster.

And there was a special reason why she had chosen the museum’s Davidson Gallery to talk about the new year ahead.

 

New look at the Nativity.

New look at the Nativity.

Bath Abbey has taken a contemporary approach to the traditional nativity scene this Christmas.

Artist, Annette Smith in the Birde Chapel. Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.

Artist, Annette Smith in the Birde Chapel.
Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.

An installation by artist and Bath Spa University graduate, Annette Smith, reinterprets the scene of the birth of Jesus using a 3-D photographic urban landscape instead of the usual crib and figurines.

Commenting on the installation, Edward Mason, Rector of Bath Abbey, said: “Traditional nativity scenes have a special place in our Christmas celebrations and worship. However, from time to time it’s good to be reminded that the first Christmas was an ordinary birth to an ordinary couple. In Annette Smith’s crib we see the ordinary scenes of Bath. These are buildings we know and the people are those who live and work here.

This modern and beautifully-made Crib reminds us that at the first Christmas extraordinary things happened to those ordinary people and if we visit the crib in the Abbey the same thing might happen to us!”

 The ‘Bath Abbey crib’ will be on display in the Abbey’s Birde Chapel throughout December until Monday 5 January. Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.

The ‘Bath Abbey crib’ will be on display in the Abbey’s Birde Chapel throughout December until Monday 5 January. Photos © DeborahJColeman/BathAbbey.

The artist, Annette Smith, who also is a part-time member of staff at the Abbey, said: “I first made this nativity Crib for Bath Abbey in 2009 where it was placed in one of the side chapels. I’m pleased to say after a few years’ absence, it is now back in the Abbey – this time in the beautiful Birde Chapel where it is particularly fitting as people can get right up close to it.

Based on the 17th century Neapolitan tradition, my version of the crib shows a distinctly urban scene. People are going about their daily activities and can be found talking on a mobile, eating burgers, and shopping. But, some people have noticed something extraordinary is going on. As the viewer, you are invited to go on a journey through the scene, to look for and discover the holy family for yourself.”

The ‘Bath Abbey crib’ will be on display in the Abbey’s Birde Chapel throughout December until Monday 5 January.

Bath-based artist Annette Smith works across the boundaries of paint, print and photography and is interested in the passage of time and its relationship to lived experience.

One of her long-term projects is in response to the several old faded shop signs around Bath, where the narrative of the city is being slowly erased or eroded.

She has a first in Fine Art from Bath Spa University and has exhibited in London, Bristol and locally. Her web-site is www.annettesmith.weebly.com

USA link to Soldier’s Prayer Book.

USA link to Soldier’s Prayer Book.

The year now drawing to a close marked one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. A conflict that I came face to face back in the summer. Not in a clipped and cared-for cemetery, embracing war graves of the fallen, but on a book-stall at a car boot sale held near Castle Combe in Wiltshire.

My attention was drawn to a little embossed and leather-bound book with the Royal Crest and words ‘Official Copy’ barely readable on its age-darkened cover.

The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer

It was a pocket-sized copy of ‘The Book of Common Prayer’ and – inside its cover and alongside ‘A Soldier’s Prayer’ – was the name ‘Private Leonard Davis, Coldstream Guards No 12410.’

In different ink beneath was written ‘Caterham, Surrey, September 7th, 1914.’ Where this soldier had joined his regiment.

Did he survive the war to end all wars? Well he was not killed in action. Nor was he sent home from the Front with an obvious war wound.prayer book

It appears Private Davis was given an honourable discharge in 1917 and a Silver War Badge – issued to all service personnel forced to retire from action through wounds or sickness. In Leonard’s case his discharge was put down on his record as ‘valvular disease-heart’.

I subsequently discovered that Leonard lived into old age and was able to send on his prayer-book to relations down in Devon.

 

MaryJo Hayden and her copy of a First World War issued Book of Common Prayer.

MaryJo Hayden and her copy of a First World War issued Book of Common Prayer.

Imagine my surprise when the Virtual Museum receives an email from an American ‘visitor’ who lives in Granger in Indiana

MaryJo Hayden tells me: ‘With reference to your article  ‘A Soldier’s Story’  – I purchased an identical “Official Copy – The Book of Common Prayer” at a flea market in South Bend, Indiana, USA a few yrs ago.

It’s signed Church of England, Rev Husband, Vicar, July 1918.’

Thanks for sharing that with us MaryJo and – who knows – someone might just recognise that clergyman’s name!

 

History Makers display aids charity

History Makers display aids charity

Bath’s ‘History Makers’ open-air display – back in the summer – has also turned out to be an impressive money-maker for an important local charity.

Organiser, Angela Calvert Jones and Sue Tucker, from Forever Friends, with that bumper cheque!

Organiser, Angela Calvert Jones and Sue Tucker, from Forever Friends, with that bumper cheque!

A cheque for £9,188.64 – from the exhibition proceeds – has been presented to Sue Tucker of the Forever Friends Appeal – at her retirement party –  for the proposed new Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospital. P1010112 Oliver 3.11.14

The ‘History Markers of Bath’ exhibition was set up by organiser Angela Calvert Jones on thirty large display panels along the paved corridor between Bath Abbey and Kingston Buildings.

They featured the famous – and infamous – characters who had all made a lasting Beckford & Smith P1000162  AAAimpression on Bath and elsewhere.

Angela said:  “When I first told Sue about my idea to hold a Bath outdoor street exhibition to celebrate history makers of the city and raise money for the cancer unit, she was not only incredibly positive and encouraging, but she suggested she should come on board and help, which is just what she did.P1000007 Fitzjocelyn, Oliver Plus AAA (a) (4)

I am thrilled that we have been able to mark her retirement with the surprise presentation of a significant donation from this project”

Bath to help celebrate West art collections.

Bath to help celebrate West art collections.

An exciting new project named ‘Modern Art in Britain’ is set to launch in the West this month with exhibitions running in Bath, Bristol,  Swindon and Cheltenham through till autumn 2015.

The Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum

It is the latest offering from a collaboration of five of the region’s Museums called ‘Frameworks; Great Art in the West’ which is a working partnership between Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, the Holburne Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, The Wilson in Cheltenham and Swindon Museum & Art Gallery.

Individual exhibitions launching at each of the museums will show the quality and diversity of art collections in the West. Modern Art in Britain will highlight modern gems in each museum’s collection by featuring over 50 artists including many household names such as Barbara Hepworth, Alfred Wallis, Richard Hamilton, Lucian Freud and Howard Hodgkin.

All of the exhibitions will include loans from the significant Swindon Collection; between them spanning 100 years of British painting and works on paper. *(Further information on dates, times, venues can be found in notes to editor).

Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives played a leading role in setting up the partnership which was developed last year with funding from Arts Council England as part of a Major Partner Museum agreement to help strengthen relationships between arts organisations.

Bristol Councillor Simon Cook, Assistant Mayor for the Arts, said: “This is a great achievement for museums in the West and goes to show how our organisations can work together to create something diverse and exciting.

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

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

“I’m very proud of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery who played a key role in initiating the Frameworks collaboration. I hope that this partnership can be continued in the future in order to make the most of our combined resources.”

Karen MacDonald, Creative Partnerships Officer for Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives said: “This is all within an hour’s drive time or a forty-minute train ride.
“We are looking at how we can join forces and work collaboratively to research our collections and make them more available to the public. Curators across the museums have been inspired by visiting each other’s collections.

We started with an intimate touring show of watercolours by JMW Turner, which can still be seen in Bath and Cheltenham in spring 2015.

‘Modern Art in Britain’ celebrates Swindon’s wonderful collection and sheds new light on British approaches to modernism through all the museums’ holdings.”

Each individual exhibition will be running from the following dates:

The Wilson, Cheltenham: 13 Dec 2014 – 8 March 2015
An Open Window

Swindon Museum and Art Gallery: 14 Jan – 18 April 2015
Present Tense

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery: 17 Jan 2015 – 31 Aug 2015
Reality Questioned

The Holburne Museum, Bath: 28 Feb – 7 June 2015
Gwen John to Lucian Freud. Home and the World: Dexter Dalwood selects from the Swindon Collection

Victoria Art Gallery, Bath: 7 March – Nov 2015
Beryl Cook: Intimate Relations (until 3 May) plus The Human Clay (until Nov)

For more details and links to all the partners’ sites, see: www.bristolmuseums.org.uk/frameworks