Spray, splodge and dodge.

Spray, splodge and dodge.

The main pathway up to the front of the Holburne Museum.

The main pathway up to the front of the Holburne Museum.

Followers of the Virtual Museum will know l hate so-called pavement stencils. Messy graffiti that disfigures our historic city. It just looks bad and – as the rain falls and people smudge the outlines – it just gets worse and worse.

The latest example l found on the main path leading up to the Holburne Museum. Apparently its all part of ‘Rome around Bath’ – a marketing campaign organised by the Bath Museum Partnership – with funding from the Arts Council !

The 'Rome around Bath museums' leaflet.

The ‘Rome around Bath Museums’ leaflet.

It includes leaflets and posters, digital campaigns and – it would seem – stencils. It’s the successor to the ‘Hot Bath, Cool Museums’ marketing campaign last year.

All the museums are included in the promotion – including the Council ones. The campaign is listed on the Visit Bath website: http://visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/rome-around-bath

A map of Bath's museums lies inside!

A map of Bath’s museums lies inside!

While l applaud any effort to ‘market’ our fine collection of specialist museums I have to say how can young people be told not to write on walls when the  grown-ups are busy spraying all over the floor??

A closer look at the Holburne graffiti. Click on images to enlarge.

A closer look at the Holburne graffiti. Click on images to enlarge.

This is a World Heritage city.We should be proud of it. Every bit of it is precious. There is enough rubbish blowing about without this.

Ironically just been watching Reese Witherspoon in the 2004 film version of Vanity Fair – shot at locations in Bath including the Holburne and Great Pulteney Street.

These are backdrops we value for tourist income – don’t spoil them.

It’s not enough to say it’s temporary. It’s the mindset that you think it’s OK to do this in the first place.

The cut back laurel hedge by the canal.

The cut back laurel hedge by the canal.

Meanwhile interested in knowing how people feel about the cutting back of laurel in Sydney Gardens where views of the canal are certainly being opened up. I like it.

The laurel will recover at a more respectable height. It’s all to do with park management. At least for as long as the local council feels it can afford to pay.

The Network Rail barriers in Sydney Gardens are coming down.

The Network Rail barriers in Sydney Gardens are coming down.

Elsewhere in the park the barriers around the railway line that also cuts through this former Georgian pleasure garden are starting to come down at the end of Network Rail’s six-week programme of works ahead of electrification.

Can’t wait to see the designs being considered for the brackets to hold the power cable through this heritage site.

Maybe the whole of Bath might be allowed to vote on them rather than individual organisations.

The puddle-covered towpath into Bath.

The puddle-covered towpath into Bath.

The other path leading into the park is the towpath along the Kennet and Avon Canal. Ironically B&NES has a grant – aimed at encouraging cycling – to spend for the benefit of all users of the towpath. Not everyone likes the cyclists but then not every cyclist likes the dogs that wander freely across their path.

Plans for resurfacing the towpath were put on show at Larkhall on Saturday for people to see and comment upon.

Plans for resurfacing the towpath were put on show at Larkhall on Saturday for people to see and comment upon.

Went to the consultation in Larkhall yesterday where l was told very few people had complained about the proposals.

A steady flow but not exactly the sort of queues Banky’s Dismaland has been getting down at Weston super Mare.

This – of course -is all about consideration for others and a decent path so ALL can enjoy a mud and water free walk or cycle into town.

If you don’t like the bikes then campaign for B&NES to make proper provision for them along the streets of this city. The car is not sacred anymore.

The towpath has an un-enforceable code of conduct which asks cyclists to go slow and dog walkers to use a lead but there is no one to police this or hand out an on-the-spot-fine.

To all speeding cyclists and those without bell or helmet – l say slow down and safety-up. To all dog walkers not using leads l say get your pet under control. While those out with the family must put their mobiles away for long enough to keep an eye on their toddlers.

To all of those who do have consideration for others – thanks and now spread the word.

Holburne’s latest purchase unveiled

Holburne’s latest purchase unveiled

Don McCullin and Charlotte Sorapure - wither side of her portrait.

Don McCullin and Charlotte Sorapure – either side of her portrait. Please click on images to enlarge.

Veteran war and landscape photographer Don McCullin CBE paid a special visit to Bath’s Holburne Museum today (Friday, March 13th) to witness the official unveiling of a portrait of himself.

It’s been painted by Charlotte Sorapure who was the 2012 winner of the Holburne Portrait Prize and who chose Don – who is celebrating his 80th Birthday this year – as her subject.

The portrait of Don McCullin

The portrait of Don McCullin

Her compelling portrait of him – and her own prize-winning self-portrait – are displayed in the Wirth Gallery alongside some of McCullin’s own melancholy landscape images and one of his iconic photographs from the Vietnam War.

The portrait of him is also the Holburne’s latest acquisition.

Charlotte with her husband - artist Saied Dai.

Charlotte with her husband – artist Saied Dai.

Charlotte – who arrived this morning in the company of her husband, the painter Saied Dai – lives and works near Bath.

She studied at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Art and Technology, graduating with a BA (Hons) Fine Art, 1991, and the Royal Academy of Arts, for the Post Graduate Diploma in Painting, 1995.

Since graduating, her work has been exhibited widely, including most recently at Messum’s Gallery, London; Mall Galleries, London; Holburne Museum and Victoria Art Gallery, Bath; University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA; and the Royal West of England Academy.

Charlotte and Don greet each other.

Charlotte and Don greet each other.

Charlotte has won a number of awards for her work, including the Holburne Portrait Prize; Odin Painting Prize, Royal West of England Academy; Bill Patterson Memorial Award and Cecil Joseph Prize, New English Art Club; and the Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation Grant (twice awarded).

She is an elected member of the New English Art Club.

Please click on the video-link below to listen to her talk about painting the portrait of Don McCullin. Apologies for sound but very busy press reception going on just behind us!

 

 

 

 

Postcards of the mcCullin portrait are on sale in the Holburne shop.

Postcards of the McCullin portrait – and examples of Don McCullin’s work – are on sale in the Holburne Museum shop.

Postcard copies of the McCullin painting are on sale in the Holburne Museum shop.

The [photograph Don McCullin took of Charlotte - while painting his portrait.

The photograph Don McCullin took of Charlotte – while painting his portrait.

The exhibition featuring the portrait will run from Saturday, March 14th to Sunday the 7th of June.

It also includes a photograph Don McCullin took of Charlotte while she was working on his portrait.

 

 

Improvements to Sydney Gardens coming soon!

Improvements to Sydney Gardens coming soon!

Work on landscape improvements to Sydney gardens will get underway later in the  Spring – it’s been announced. There will also be work undertaken to make entrances and paths more accessible. Bath & North East Somerset Council has committed up to £250,000 to make a start on the revitalisation of Sydney Pleasure Gardens in Bath.

The Council is working with local residents, The Friends of Sydney Gardens and The Holburne Museum to agree an initial package of priority improvements to make the gardens more welcoming and accessible for everyone.

Councillor David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Sydney Gardens is one of Bath’s most historic public parks, much-loved by its local community, but in desperate need of careful rejuvenation. Bath & North East Somerset Council’s injection of £250,000 this year will kick-start a collaboration between the community and the Council, restoring the landscape, improving accessibility and enabling it to become an even better focus of the community life for future generations.”

Jonny East , Chairman of Friends of Sydney Gardens added ‘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 project and welcome this investment to finance early stage improvements.”

Richard Fleck, Chairman of The Holburne Museum, said: “We are delighted that the Council is taking steps to revitalise Sydney Gardens, sadly now the unique example of 18th Century pleasure gardens that survive in the UK and we look forward to working with the Council. We welcome the support of the local community including, in particular, the Friends of Sydney Gardens.”

Further Information is available at the project webpage www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport-leisure-and-parks/parks-opening-times-and-locations/sydney-gardens. Bath’s Sydney Gardens is currently dotted with official B&NES signs giving notice of plans to inject £250,000 into this old public park and asking those who enjoy using it for their views on ways it could be rejuvenated.

On the council website this elongated hexagonal of land is correctly identified as the oldest park in the city but it wasn’t planned as being somewhere for the general public to go!

Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

Winter sunshine in Sydney Gardens

From the start this was a private commercial venture – opened in 1795 – as a pleasure ground.

It was a profit-making enterprise designed for adult society and entertainment with a character quite different from the more formal, flower-bedded and free-to-enter Victorian parks to come.

According to Michael Forsyth – in the Pevsner Architectural Guide to Bath – the Gardens or Vauxhall – to give the venture its proper name – was funded by shares of £100 and you had to pay a fee to get in and enjoy the facilities.

MInerva's Temple - brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

MInerva’s Temple – brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

The New Bath Guide for 1801 described  ‘waterfalls, stone and thatched pavilions, alcoves, a sham castle, bowling greens, swings, a labyrinth, a fine Merlin swing, a grotto of antique appearance, and four thatched umbrellas as a shelter for the rains.’

It was a lot to cram onto a modest site – and all surrounded by a drive for carriages and individually mounted horses to ride upon.

A novel entertainment for the well-to-do in the middle of a vast Georgian development. These were the former virgin acres of the Bathwick estate that could now be easily reached across the newly built Pulteney Bridge.

It was a Bath ‘New Town’ that would spread out from a fine terraced avenue of houses named after the estate’s developer Sir William Johnstone Pulteney.

Great Pulteney Street lead down to Sydney House – which formed it’s closure at the eastern end. However the building – now the Holburne Museum – was also the entrance to the pleasure gardens beyond.

The Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum

Thomas Baldwin – architect of Great Pulteney Street – initially designed Sydney House and Gardens in 1794, but in the end it was his pupil Charles Harcourt Masters who did the work and to a modified design.

The house offered coffee, tea and card rooms for those using the Gardens and with a ballroom on the first floor.

On the side facing the Gardens was a conservatory, orchestra stand and even – on the ground floor – a transparency. A picture painted on thin linen so that it glowed against the light.

There was also a public house in the basement – called the Sydney Tap – for chairmen, coachmen and other servants who were not allowed into the Gardens.

Sydney Gardens became a municipal park in 1909.

Sydney Gardens became a municipal park in 1909.

Events within these sylvan acres included public breakfasts and dinners – in open wooden supper boxes that jutted out in curved wings either side of the house.

There were evening promenades, gala nights with fireworks and illuminations and all accompanied by music.

All of this on offer in Gardens that were also planned to be enclosed by fine terraces of houses – that would all share a fine view of the pleasure gardens – and then the development would continue beyond.

Only two sides were completed. Bankruptcy and the French Revolution punctured this property balloon – so what remains is just a vision of what might have been.

The coming of the Kennet and Avon Canal – and then the Great Western Railway – produced further modification and disruption to the pleasure gardens layout – as both were to cut their way through its grounds.

The existing low wall from where people can watch the trains pass by.

The existing low wall from where people can watch the trains pass by.

As it was the canal – once built – was heralded as an additional ‘attraction’ while Brunel ‘landscaped’ his rail route through the Gardens – providing a visual theatre in which people could cheer his amazing trains as they sped – belching smoke and hissing steam – across this garden of delights.

Today the canal has been revitalised and the rail link to London is about to be electrified which will in itself involve some modification of the section through Sydney Gardens to address health and safety issues.

They will be digging a trench to keep people away from the line but not adversely affect the view.

The central path - looking up to the Loggia

The central path – looking up to the Loggia

Elsewhere  the original features have all but disappeared but the central axis – which does continue the line of Great Pulteney Street – and some interesting garden structures of later dates do remain.

B&NES had applied for Heritage Lottery funding but failed in the attempt. At one time a joint application was to go in from both the Holburne Museum and the Council but – for various reasons – only the Holburne’s proposal for an extension was submitted.

The Holburne extension

The Holburne extension

It was successful and – for some – a controversial but award-winning glass and ceramic 11.2 million pound extension was added to the Holburne which re-opened in May 2011 after building work was completed.

The Museum building had lost its direct link with the Gardens after it became  a college and its grounds were fenced.

The Holburne wants this view open up!

The Holburne wants this view open up!

It’s a well-known fact that – after adding an extension which turned the attention of visitors back to what lay outside – the Holburne would like to see a more direct link with the Gardens recreated.

Some sort of balanced opening out into what lies beyond its rear boundaries.

No doubt B&NES will be aware of their feelings. Meanwhile they have called in a company called Place Studios Limited of Bristol to help them plan a course of action in Sydney Gardens.

On their website Place say: ‘We are qualified urban designers who enjoy working with stakeholders and communities. We are experienced in helping to shape places, streets and green spaces within the country’s most diverse and sensitive environments, notably Bristol, Bath and London.’

Members of urban designers Place Studios and interested parties taking a tour of Sydney Gardens.

Members of urban designers Place Studios and interested parties taking a tour of Sydney Gardens.

I spotted them out in the Gardens with council officials and other interested parties taking a walk around. It’s part of a process B&NES is undertaking before deciding on a plan of action.

On the Council website it says:

‘In recent years the Council has been working with the local community to develop a long-term plan for improving Sydney Gardens. Recent surveys have identified that some of the listed historic structures and public amenities are in need of attention; and that there are concerns about anti-social behaviour in the Gardens, and the Council has recently allocated £250,000 to help address these issues.

MInerva's Temple - brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

MInerva’s Temple – brought from the Empire Exhibition at the Crystal Palace and re-erected here in 1913-14.

The Council has commissioned Place Studio to help: working with a project Steering Group that includes representatives of local residents’ groups (including The Friends of Sydney Gardens) to identify practical work that needs to happen now to help conserve the gardens and then to work with stakeholders to agree ongoing future improvements.’

According to Councillor David Dixon- who is Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods:

‘Sydney Gardens is one of Bath’s most historic public parks, much-loved by its local community, but in desperate need of careful rejuvenation. Bath & North East Somerset Council’s injection of £250,000 this year will kick-start a collaboration between the community and the Council, restoring the landscape, improving accessibility and enabling it to become an even better focus of the community life for future generations.’

B&NES lists its priorities for people to consider.

The Project Steering Group has identified a number of priorities for investment in the short-term, and we want to hear your views about these and/or any other priorities which you feel need addressing in the Gardens.

Priorities identified to date include:

Environment
• Reveal the canal.

Shrubbery prevents you seeing the canal. Should it be removed?

Shrubbery prevents you seeing the canal. Should it be removed?• Open up views.

• Open up views.
• More/better benches.
• Places for wildlife.
• Heritage interpretation

Access/Safety
• Signs to and around the gardens.
• Improve the entrances.
• Connect paths & remove dead ends.
• Trim overgrown bushes/shrubs.

Play/Keeping Fit
• Provide natural play opportunities for children.
• Improve the tennis courts.
• Outdoor gym/trail.
• Walking/jogging routes.
• More cycle parking.

It asks people who have suggestions for other improvements to send any comments by 6th March to: info@placestudio.com

Alternatively, you can write your comments down and drop them in to the Council’s One-Stop-Shop in Manvers Street in an envelope clearly marked ‘Sydney Gardens’.

The Virtual Museum has something to say on the subject. Clearly the Gardens cannot be restored to its original layout. Too much has changed – physically and socially – but it would be nice if its heritage could be better acknowledged. It is after all the last remaining portion of a former Georgian pleasure garden existing in this country!

Should the canal be opened up to view by removing shrubbery?

Should the canal be opened up to view by removing shrubbery?

Concentrated planting was often done on such a confined space to hide attractions from one another. So that you came across each one as an element of surprise – although they were close to each other. At one time the whole gardens looked like a densely packed wood!

The Virtual Museum agrees that some views – like the canal – could be opened up. The restoration of a clear line between the Holburne and what remains of the Loggia at the top would also be welcomed.

B&NES talks about places for wildlife and the VM is not sure what they mean by this. As things stand the place is teeming with it and any reduction of flora would reduce habitat for what is there.

Seating could certainly be better

Seating could certainly be better

The park needs better seating. Could people not sponsor it? Already seats are providing as memorials to loved ones. Once upon a time there was wooden seating wrapped around mature trees. Could not that be done again?

The bottom tennis courts in need of attention

The bottom tennis courts in need of attention

Recreational activities do need to be addressed and certainly the bottom tennis court could do with a make-over.

The public loos have been overhauled but there are older listed loos to consider?

Get rid of the tarmac paths and – most important of all – bring the Gardens back into night use with proper lighting. I am sure l heard there were plans to have solar lights sunk into the ground?

Maybe a limited archaeological dig could identify some sites of past structure so some sort of reconstruction could be attempted?

The main driveway through Sydney Gardens. Swathes of tarmac!

The main driveway through Sydney Gardens. Swathes of tarmac!

New and old loos standing side by side

New and old loos standing side by side

Network Rail’s intervention in the area this year – as part of their electrification scheme – should be tied into the Council’s plans.

Maybe the company might help out in other ways!

B&NES say: ‘Once we have received suggestions, a plan of action will be agreed by the project Steering Group and the Council.

We will then update on progress and – at a later date – provide an opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to get involved in developing the longer term plan.’

The Council website for you to look at is: www.bathnes.gov.uk/…/sydney-gardens

 

 

 

 

Magic night of lanterns and light.

Magic night of lanterns and light.

lantern procession 2014Hundreds of people have taken part in what surely must be the biggest lanternlantern procession 2014 procession through Bath that the Holburne Museum has got together in the eight years this magical event has been running.

Hundreds more lined the streets to experience a night of lanterns, lights and music.

This year’s theme was On the High Seas and there was an assortment of things big and small – from jelly fish and minnows to submarines, galleons and even an elephant!

Virtual Museum fans can watch some of the event by clicking on the link below.

 

Panto man on a plinth at Holburne Museum

Panto man on a plinth at Holburne Museum

The late and great comic actor Chris Harris – star of countless pantomimes at Bath’s Theatre Royal – has been commemorated in a work of art that has gone on display at the Holburne Museum in the city.

'Hello You Tinkers! Chris Harris as Widow Twankey' Paul Gunning MA

‘Hello You Tinkers! Chris Harris as Widow Twankey’
Paul Gunning MA

The Holburne Museum

The Holburne Museum

A ceramic figure of Chris – dressed as Window Twankey – is just one of eleven temporary installations from MA ceramics and textiles students at Bath Spa University’s  School of Art & Design which have now gone on show throughout the building.

It is the work of Paul Gunning who is a MA Design: Ceramics graduate this year and who has explained his choice of subject  on a card alongside the figure.

Paul says: ‘ I’ve always been drawn to the Holburne’s ceramic figures and paintings of actors. When l decided to create this figure, Chris was very much alive and heaving the matronly bosom.

Now the work is dedicated to the memory of a generous, funny man who looked fantastic in lipstick and Doc Martens.’

Well there’s no denying this would make a fitting installation for Bath’s Theatre Royal – if the money could be raised to buy it?

Meanwhile, the Virtual Museum has been down to speak to the Holburne’s Curator of Decorative Arts, Catrin Jones, who can explain exactly what the tie-up with Bath Spa is.

 

 

Whether responding to individual pieces in the collection, highlighting objects not usually on display or commenting on Sir William Holburne himself, this exciting collaboration between Bath Spa University and the Holburne Museum will stimulate new interpretations and ways of looking.

The show includes ceramics by Charlotte Asprey, Rupert Brakspear, Adele Christensen, Paul Gunning, Wen Hsi Harman, Elise Menghini and Richard Winfield, and textiles by Kate Bond, Jayne Goulding, Bronwen Gwillim, and Carole Wadham.

The exhibition graphics were designed by Paul Gunning.

 

 

 

It’s going to be a blue (and white) Christmas at the Holburne!

It’s going to be a blue (and white) Christmas at the Holburne!

Got a chance to meet Jennifer Scott – the new Director of the Holburne Museum – today and she’s very excited about the venue’s new exhibition which features the comic art of Thomas Rowlandson. He was one of the leading caricaturists of Georgian Britain and many of his cartoons feature Bath. The exhibition has just opened and will run through to February next year.

Jennifer has also been telling me what’s in store for this year’s Christmas theme at the Holburne – so stay with this article until the end to find out more!

She has come to Bath from her previous job as curator at the Royal Collection Trust. A job she has done since 2004. She has curated a number of major exhibitions for the Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh.

Jennifer also worked with the Holburne Museum team last year on the Rembrandt Exhibition which also featured paintings from the Royal Collection.

But first – let’s talk about Thomas Rowlandson.

 

 

Jennifer has only been in the job for five weeks and was not about to divulge long-term plans for the Holburne. However she was able to give me a taster of what to expect at the museum this Christmas.

 

 

 

Fresh art on display!

Fresh art on display!

FREE Exhibition of new artwork created for the Hillview Acute Inpatient Unit in Bath.
At The Schoolhouse, Building of Bath Collection, The Paragon,
Bath, BA1 5NA.
31st May – 8th June, 12.00 – 4.00 daily.

Building of Bath Museum

Building of Bath Museum

No.1 Royal Crescent, the Holburne Museum and the American Museum in Britain have hosted a series of creative workshops resulting in a remarkable collection of artwork to be displayed in Hillview Lodge, B&NES’s acute inpatient unit in Bath.

The artists are people with experience of mental health challenges plus their friends and family. The artwork includes collage and painting and presents such challenges in a positive light, breaking down the stigma often associated with this subject.

The original idea behind the Fresh Art @ Hillview project came from service users at Hillview Lodge who wanted to give something back to the ward. Providing fresh artwork will promote conversation and inspiration within Hillview and give confidence, new skills and a sense of pride to those whose work is on display.

The project itself has been run as a partnership between local organisations: Avon and Wiltshire NHS Trust (AWP), Bath Preservation Trust, the Holburne Museum, the American Museum in Britain, Creativity Works, Sirona and St. Mungo’s.

Hannah Carding, one of the lead artists, said: “It has been very rewarding to see how participants have enjoyed developing their artistic skills so much. They have really flourished in this project.”
Polly Andrews, Co-ordinator of the Bath Museums Community Engagement project commented: “We have been delighted to work in partnership to provide an opportunity for the participants to feel inspired by our unique collections and beautiful settings.”FreshArt@Hillview

Participants on the project came from the acute inpatient community at Hillview as well as many peer-led creative groups such as Tiny Monuments and The Inspirational Arts & Crafts group, which have grown from wellbeing projects across B&NES.

For more information on the Fresh Art @ Hillview exhibition or the project itself contact:
Name: Polly Andrews
Tel: / email: 01225 333895 pandrews@bptrust.org.uk
The artworks will be on display in the Schoolhouse at the Building of Bath Collection on the Paragon between 31 May and 8 June, between 12 and 4pm daily. Free admission.