Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Seeing Bath through the eyes of artists

When you live or work in an area you sometimes become a bit blase about its attractions.

If you walk past the same buildings – however beautiful – day in day out it is easy just to take it all in your stride and not fully appreciate it. It sometimes takes an outsider to remind you of the beauty in front of your eyes.

That was certainly the case for me last week when I had the pleasure, for the second year running, to be one of the judges for The Bath Prize, an art competition designed to get people to capture in art form the spirit of the city as they see it.

Although only in its second year, the competition has already established itself as a major artistic event and more than 400 entries were submitted for this year’s prizes. As judges, we got to see the shortlisted top 200 or so and I was genuinely taken aback at the quality of the works we had to view. It was of a very high standard indeed.

What the selection also showed me is the way people – the vast majority of whom come from outside our area – view Bath and its many attractions. As such we saw plenty of excellent works featuring the weir, Pulteney Bridge, Bath Abbey, The Circus and of course the Royal Crescent which produced the runner-up picture. Beyond that, however, artists found beauty in all manner of other areas of Bath life.

I was particularly impressed that in a rugby-dominated city one of the very best pictures features Bath City Football Club and I also admired the bravery of the artist who, with all Bath’s obvious attractions, chose to paint the gasworks towers at Windsor Bridge. In addition, it was also fascinating to see how many people had been impressed enough by the Bath Lions to make them the centrepiece of their work. Proof, if ever it was needed, of what a successful and admired project this has been.

So, once again I left The Bath Prize judging very impressed with what I’d seen – and, crucially I started to look around me again with renewed appreciation of this city’s beauty.

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