Art at Bath

Arts & culture at The Edge & elsewhere

Posts By: Jamie Eastman

Festival of the Future City 2017: Proof that Bath and Bristol share more than just a cycle path!

📥  Uncategorised

Bath and Bristol. Two cities.

Amid the growing spectre of urban sprawl, this year’s Festival of the Future City (18-20 Oct) and Festival of the Future City Bath (19-21 Oct) take place in both. Though neither location resembles the type of concrete jungle one might associate with notions of 'future', both face challenges at the dawn of the 21st Century.

Moreover since the establishment of the West of England Combined Authority, both share a future that is inextricably linked. Standing in togetherness with the other devolved city regions of England at the dawn of a new era of inter-city partnership and collaboration.

Outsiders looking in tend to associate the romantic and traditional with Bath (Jane Austen, Sally Lunn, UNESCO) and the gritty and and creative with Bristol (Banksy, Aardman). The elegant Georgian townhouses of Bath juxtaposed with rows of multi-coloured terraces in Bristol, at first glance evidence a cultural chasm between two West Country neighbours, with the connection between them an eponymous cycle path.

The reality, of course, is that Bristol and Bath are both forward looking, modern cities. Sharing more in common than not. Visit England puts it best when describing Bristol and Bath as “the yin and yang of the West Country”.Without one, you wouldn’t have the other. They are inseparable contradictions, both at forefront of developments in arts and culture, science and technology on the world stage, yet fiercely traditional in their own unique ways.

For a festival that turns the spotlight on the city in the 21st century, Bristol and Bath are fittingly futurist in many regards, seeking to embrace green futures for instance. For my part, it is great to be working in partnership with our West Country neighbours and Univesities; sharing this landmark event: The Festival of the Future City 2017.

The two programmes demonstrate how great things come via collaboration between our two great cities, but also a commonality of purpose in celebrating culture and ideas. There is plenty to get your teeth into as you would expect from an extensive array of talks, originating from the brilliant Bristol Festival of Ideas.

Having said all that, I of course urge you to check out and attend the Bath programme first!

Owing to Bath’s rich architectural heritage, and the shared issues our cities face in terms of ensuring that housing and public spaces are fit for the challenges of the future; the Festival programme is generously apportioned to the future of urban housing (21 Oct) and creating great spaces. One of our key themes is What Makes Great Architecture with films made with some of our speakers (writer Anna Minton, the Design Museum's Justin McGuirk, architect Alison Brooks) to get the juices going on the subject.

Anna Minton

Justin McGuirk

Alison Brooks

 

Ensuring that the future city evolves in a way that is simultaneously liveable, inclusive and sustainable, while maintaining and developing a unique sense of place form the core of Bath’s contribution to the Festival programme.

We’ll also see architecture writer, Owen Hatherley, do a walking tour of Bath’s main architectural sites (19 Oct), while one of the city’s most radical adopted sons, Ken Loach, lays out his vision for the future of the place he calls home (20 Oct) 

In short, as the pace of urbanisation intensifies around the globe, the future of cities is becoming an increasingly hot topic. Holding such a festival across two cities, connected, physically, by a quotidian thoroughfare of urban life: the daily commute more than just symbolically. Together we are pathfinding together the shape and colour of the future city, via yin, and yang.

Festival of the Future City 2017 is supported by the University of Bath, Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bath Preservation Trust, Arts Council England, University of Bristol, University of the West of England, Bristol City Council and Business West.

 

Banners at Bath Abbey

📥  Director's update

Tuesday 25th October saw a fantastic 50th birthday celebration held by the University at Bath Abbey. I was proud and humbled to see many of our students put themselves on the line at such a significant event, performing dance, music, choral and spoken word sections in front of hundreds of onlookers. Colleagues and guests in attendance said how much they welcomed a student arts presence in the event, a reflection of the fact we are an institution imbued with creativity.

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29095 25/10/2016 University of Bath 50th Anniversary Day. Procession with banners enters the abbey.

The banners enter Bath Abbey

Further example of our creative pulse was evidenced by seven banners, made especially for the event and arriving via a procession of current students and staff. Each banner represented a key area of University life today: the Faculties of Science; Engineering & Design; Humanities & Social Sciences; the School of Management; Students’ Union; Sport; and Professional Services. For this blog entry I thought I’d outline the background behind the creation of these.

When I was made aware of the idea to have an informal procession enter the Abbey numbering a variety of students and staff from the University (alongside a traditional formal party which would include Chancellor), I thought about how we might amplify the procession’s diversity, yet signal one community. It struck me that asking the procession to carry banners might work well. I also thought it important the banners were resolutely non-political, whilst including some of our University DNA.

The production process began with exploratory interviews with senior colleagues on this, asking them similar questions such as ‘what values informed their working practices?’ and ‘where they saw the University in fifty years time?’. Joining us at many of these interviews was Bath-based artist Sandra Porter. Sandra’s task was to distill the atmosphere in these interviews into a template from which the banners would be produced.

29095 50th Anniversary Celebrations 25 Oct 2016. University of Bath marks the 50th Anniversary of receiving its Royal Charter from the Queen. A procession of staff and University Officers makes its way from the Guildhall to the Abbey where performances and speeches are made. The Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, presides over the event. Client: Lara Stanley - Alumni and Development
29095 50th Anniversary Celebrations 25 Oct 2016. University of Bath marks the 50th Anniversary of receiving its Royal Charter from the Queen. A procession of staff and University Officers makes its way from the Guildhall to the Abbey where performances and speeches are made. The Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, presides over the event. Client: Lara Stanley - Alumni and Development

Staff and students make their way from Guildhall

We always had the notion that the banners would be produced by students and staff themselves from the templates. What we didn’t plan for, was how closely aligned the answers given in our interviews would be from the many participants. Thrillingly the importance of creativity in the working (and study based) lives of our community was cited consistently.

Thus it was that Sandra fashioned one master template that would be used by all. Incorporated in this was a collaged section of images to suggest that beholders look further. Sandra often uses collage in her work, manipulating images and colour to emotive effect as exampled on her website here.

Following the template, the tricky business of finding willing students and staff to paint and collage their own banners was undertaken. Thankfully coercion was only necessary in a minority of cases as persons who had never done such activities before gamely tried their hand. Participants collaged images that depicted aspects specific to their University areas and painted thereafter in relational colours.

It was great to see the results processed through the streets of Bath and into the Abbey on the 25th. Viewed as a collective work, onlookers encountered the procession as a collective host of colour with similar designs, generating an understanding that this procession was one community. For me, the production process in art is often an opportunity for story making and co-design. The creation of these banners and what they showcase indicates a community that I am part of, and that many many others are part of also.

29095 50th Anniversary Celebrations 25 Oct 2016. University of Bath marks the 50th Anniversary of receiving its Royal Charter from the Queen. A procession of staff and University Officers makes its way from the Guildhall to the Abbey where performances and speeches are made. The Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, presides over the event. Client: Lara Stanley - Alumni and Development

Staff and students approach Bath Abbey

The story of Bath University, now 50 years in the making is equally of fascination. As we go further and onward to many more years of success, I picture the banners as being carried into our future, signifying the role that creativity and creative thinking plays in our achievements. My thanks to Sandra Porter, and especially the participants and colleagues that helped create these very special, University of Bath artworks.

Happy 50th Birthday University of Bath!

 

My first six months as Director of Arts

📥  Director's update

view from the audience of Jamie Eastman's talk at The Edge

Recently I gave a talk to University staff, giving a flavour of upcoming arts presentations at The Edge this Autumn. From a show of hands, I was pleased to see everyone in attendance had visited The Edge before and liked spending time in the building. I agree, it’s a great space to visit and we are incredibly fortunate to have such a building here at Bath.

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