Portraits and Identity at the Victoria Art Gallery

Portraits and Identity at the Victoria Art Gallery

Mrs Siddons in the Character of  Zara, engraver John R Smith Artist Thomas Lawrence, mezzotint

Mrs Siddons in the Character of Zara, engraver John R Smith Artist Thomas Lawrence, mezzotint. Click on images to enlarge.

A free exhibition featuring portrait prints by artists as diverse as Hogarth, Dürer and Grayson Perry opens at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Victoria Art Gallery on August 20 and runs through to October 4th..

A highlight of the exhibition, entitled ‘Portraits and Identity’, will be Perry’s ‘Map of Days’, which was purchased by the Gallery in 2014, using grant-aid from outside bodies.

This unusual self-portrait takes the form of a map showing the inner workings of the artist’s mind. The river of imagination flows past a walled city made up of streets with names such as ‘Intuition’, ‘Revenge’ and ‘Churning Insecurity’.

Henry Bunbury Esqr Thomas Lawrence 1789

Henry Bunbury Esqr byThomas Lawrence 1789

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “Bath residents and visitors will have an opportunity to see this wonderful array of portraits for free. This exhibition gives a fascinating insight into portrait artists and their sitters.”

The prints on display will show how artists put clues into a portrait to tell us about the sitter’s life. For example, an intellectual might be pictured with books, while a doctor is shown with body organs and an artist holds the tools of his trade.

Clockmaker, Thomas Tompion - unknown artist.

Clockmaker, Thomas Tompion – unknown artist.

Often, portraits are commissioned by the sitters, so the artist has to create a flattering image. Alexander Pope, for example, was a difficult man with health problems that left him short and deformed, but there is no hint of that in the flattering depiction of him as a gentleman poet.

Caricatures, on the other hand, can be much more cutting. Gillray transforms naturalist Joseph Banks into a showy butterfly after receiving the Order of the Bath, while William Hibbard shows the Bath Corporation with symbols of their businesses for heads.

Portraits and Identity will run alongside the ‘Jane Austen’s Bath’ exhibition, which features many of Austen’s astute character analyses.

More information via www.victoriagal.org.uk

Late night opening at Bath’s Fashion Museum

Late night opening at Bath’s Fashion Museum

Visitors to Bath’s Fashion Museum will have extra time to browse the world-class displays this summer, as the museum will be open until 6pm every Thursday in August, with last exit at 7pm.

Fashion displays. Click on images to enlarge.

Fashion displays. Click on images to enlarge.

A select number of visitors will also have a chance to experience a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum collection. Tours for a maximum of four people will run every Thursday evening and can be booked via Bath Box Office (http://bathboxoffice.org.uk/, tickets £8).

The Thursday evening openings at the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Fashion Museum have been made possible by funding from Arts Council England to the Bath Museums Partnership.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “This will give visitors to the city and local people alike the chance to explore the Fashion Museum into the early evening, and a lucky few will also get to see behind the scenes.

The Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery are also opening later on Thursdays during the summer, offering a cultural addition to Bath’s vibrant evening economy.”

Look 41 - By Gareth Pugh -  2014 Dress of the Year.

Look 41 – By Gareth Pugh – 2014 Dress of the Year.

Current displays at the museum include ‘Georgians – dress for polite society’, featuring sumptuous Georgian dress alongside Georgian-inspired creations by some of today’s top designers; ‘Great Names of Fashion’, showcasing beautiful evening dresses by designers including Dior, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent; and a chance to see this year’s ‘Dress of the Year’ by Gareth Pugh.

Tickets for the Fashion Museum cost £8.25/£7.25 concessions. Entry is free for Discovery Card holders. Find out more at www.fashionmuseum.co.uk

Bath’s ‘first’ shared space area opens in Seven Dials

Bath’s ‘first’ shared space area opens in Seven Dials

The 'shared' space at Seven Dials.

The ‘shared’ space at Seven Dials.

A project to improve public space with more focus on the needs of people walking and cycling has been completed in the Seven Dials area of Bath.

Daily, far more pedestrians than cars use the area around Seven Dials but they were previously confined to narrow footways. The designation of this area as a ‘shared space’, with substantial changes to reduce distinctions between road and footway, removes the notion of motor vehicles automatically having priority.

The 'shared space' notice at Seven Dials.

The ‘shared space’ notice at Seven Dials.

It increases the space available to pedestrians and improves accessibility, particularly for people with disabilities or those using pushchairs.

In a conventional layout, pedestrians and motorists are equally entitled to occupy the carriageway, but habitually pedestrians give way. In shared space, people have to be more aware of other users, communicating and co-operating rather than assuming they have priority.

Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “I’m pleased this project has been completed. This new administration is committed to making it easier for residents, businesses and visitors to get around Bath. The aim is for people to use this redesigned space courteously and considerately. Walking around will be easier and spending time in the area more pleasant.”

The work on a shared space in Lower Borough Walls

The work on a shared space in Lower Borough Walls

Seven Dials, incorporating Kingsmead Square and Saw Close, is the historic west gate of Bath the city where seven routes met and lies to the west of the city’s main thoroughfare. The improvements have been delivered thanks to a £1.2 million grant from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition programme to improve the area for walking and cycling.

Doing away with pavement/road division in Stall Street.

Doing away with pavement/road division in Stall Street.

Director’s note: Seems to me this ‘shared space’ idea is also being tried out along Lower Borough Walls and the bottom end of Stall Street. Call it what you like its basically doing away with any definition between pavement and road. It ends up being a big space upon which cars, pedestrians and cyclists will fight for room. I remain to be convinced.

As far as Westgate Street is concerned – leading to this new shared space at Seven Dials – the ‘cycle’ markings on the road is faded. As a cyclist, l was shouted at by someone who told me l was going the wrong way in a one way street. It is two-way for cyclists.

Improvement work to Sydney Gardens underway

Improvement work to Sydney Gardens underway

Work has now started on a six-month programme of shrub pruning and landscape improvements in Bath’s historic Sydney Gardens..

Sydney Gardens became a municipal park in 1909.

Sydney Gardens became a municipal park in 1909.

Bath & North East Somerset Council is working with the local community on a long-term plan to help conserve the space for future generations.

Notices about the pruning and replanting works have gone up in the gardens.

Notices about the pruning and replanting works have gone up in the gardens.

The public park is a remnant of what was a Georgian pleasure garden which provided outside catering, grottos, mazes and swing boat rides for those prepared to pay an admission fee.

Councillor Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “This is crucial work that will really improve the park for local people and visitors to Bath.

A close up of an information notice that has gone up in the gardens. Click on images to enlarge.

A close up of an information notice that has gone up in the gardens. Click on images to enlarge.

We aim to open up the park, allowing views across the city whilst removing some of the more secluded areas to help combat anti-social behaviour. It will create new spaces for planting and restore the original landscape design for the gardens.”

The Council’s contractors may need to restrict access to some areas temporarily and members of the public are asked to follow advice on signage. Pruning over the summer will be supervised by a qualified ecologist to avoid disturbance to any nesting birds.

Evidence of recent poplar pruning

Evidence of recent poplar pruning

The Council’s parks team will continue to work with the Sydney Gardens Steering Group – a partnership of friends and residents groups, representatives from the Holburne Museum, and local Councillors – to help improve the space over the coming year.

Jonny East, Chairman of Friends of Sydney Gardens, said: “The Friends of Sydney Gardens promotes the preservation and conservation of Sydney Gardens, together with community-supported improvements.

To this end we are delighted to work with Bath & North East Somerset Council on the programme of shrub pruning and landscape improvements.”

More information on the pruning and landscaping works is available at www.bathnes.gov.uk/sydneygardens

I hear some sort of anti-skateboard surface is going to be added to the main pathway to stop what is becoming a bit of a dangerous hazard.

We the people….

We the people….

The Bath Guildhall

The Bath Guildhall

Bath & North East Somerset Council has agreed to establish a new Bath City Forum so that the ordinary people of the city can have their say.
At a full Council meeting on Thursday July 16, Councillors voted to move forward with plans for the forum, which will consider the key issues affecting the city and will assist and advise the Council on issues specific to Bath.

The proposals have been developed by a cross-party working group of Councillors, established last year to look at options for strengthening civic representation in Bath using input from local residents and community groups.

The forum will be made up of 12 Bath ward Councillors from Bath & North East Somerset Council and a representative from the Council’s Cabinet. The forum will also co-opt members from across the city to ensure it has the right blend of expertise, skills and local knowledge. Co-opted members could come from residents, business, heritage or other community groups. Forum members will elect their own Chair and Vice Chair.

Following debate it was agreed it would not have delegated funding or decision-making powers.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip), said: “The forum will provide us with a new mechanism to allow greater engagement and collaboration between communities within the city.

Bath will have its own forum at which matters affecting the city can be discussed by people from the city, in the same way that other areas of Bath and North East Somerset have their town and parish councils.

“There is widespread support for this and I would like to thank the cross-party working group for their work in developing proposals.”

The first meeting of the Bath City Forum is expected to take place in the Autumn. It is then envisaged that the forum will meet at least three times a year.

Further details, including information about the application and selection process, will be made available on the Council’s website as plans progress – www.bathnes.gov.uk

Rail works begin!

Rail works begin!

Bath starts to be directly affected by the massive and costly construction programme Network Rail have underway to electrify the main line from Paddington down to Bristol and beyond.

The Great Western line through Sydney Gardens.

The Great Western line through Sydney Gardens.

From today – Saturday, July 18th – to the end of the month, the line between Chippenham and Bathampton Junction will be closed. This will result in a reduced number of services from Bath Spa towards London to one train per hour and they will be diverted via Westbury.

You will of course be able to get to London via Bristol.

From August 1st to the 31st the line between Chippenham and Bath Spa will be closed – as will the line between Westbury and Bathampton Junction.

This means there will be no trains running between Westbury, Freshford and Avoncliff to Bath Spa and journeys towards  London from Bath Spa will be routed via Bristol Temple Meads and Parkway.

This huge engineering undertaking in our area will be carried out over six weeks during which time the track will be lowered in a number of places through Bath and in Box Tunnel. In some places – but not World Heritage Bath – some bridges have to be demolished and reconstructed to give safe clearance for the new overhead electric line equipment.

Keep up to date with developments via http://www.networkrail.co.uk/great-western-route-modernisation/banes/

Libraries free up computer access for customers

Libraries free up computer access for customers

Charges to use public access computers in Libraries across Bath and North East Somerset are to be removed from July 17

Bath Central Library

Bath Central Library

From July 17 there will be no charge for anyone to use a PC in Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Libraries. Sessions of up to 2 hours per day to use library PCs can be booked in advance, with further sessions bookable depending on availability on the day.

Printing charges of 10p for black & white sheets and 50p colour per page will remain.

In addition to free PC access in all libraries, free Wi-Fi is also available in Midsomer Norton, Keynsham, Paulton, Weston and Bath libraries.

Bath Central Library

Bath Central Library

At Bath Central Library, volunteer IT guides are now helping library users with all kinds of digital challenges from scanning documents, to setting up email accounts, downloading our e-books and accessing government or health information.

The IT volunteers are available Monday to Friday from around 11.00am – 5.00pm in Bath Central Library.

Cllr Martin Veal (Conservative, Bathavon North), Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “The current charging system limits the use of the library computers for some people so we have agreed to remove charges. As computers become more important in everyone’s lives we want our libraries to provide more support for customers to exploit the opportunities of the digital world and make the most of the technology available.

“We will continue to look at ways in which our libraries can develop to best serve our local communities and will be consulting with communities on what people want from their local library service over the coming months.”