Local artists from the Bath and North East Somerset area are encouraged to come forward to participate in an all-new summer exhibition inspired by the River Avon.

With the backdrop of the 50th anniversary of extensive flooding of the Avon in 1968, the initiative ‘River is the Venue’ has been devised to demonstrate the links between the extensive flooding and the city’s subsequent economic and cultural development.

Funded by the University of Bath’s Public Engagement Unit, it will bring together researchers from the University’s Departments of Architecture & Civil Engineering and Education with local artists, community groups and local schools.

Engaging local communities

Among various community workshops and activities, the project will commission a series of public artworks by local artists resulting in a trail of temporary, outside installations and sculptures. The results will go on public display to coincide with the start of the Festival of Nature and Forest of Imagination events (the latter subject to funding) both taking place in June.

Artworks will be presented and designed with a view of being fully accessible for all, including those with visual impairments, and will include a web app to act as an interactive guide and to collect research information, including through compelling, new community stories. Researchers and artists will work with participants to help advise on access needs.

The team behind the project are working with 44AD studios and Art at the Heart of the Royal United Hospital to commission artists to take part.

With a total budget of £6,000 they will commission up to five artwork projects including four pop-up commissions and one larger community-led artwork commission.

Informing research

Ed Stevens of the Public Engagement Unit, explained: “’River is the Venue’ is an exciting new project for 2018 from the Public Engagement Unit at Bath which has at its core engagement with local communities and collaborative working. The initiative is an opportunity to fuse research with art and to tell compelling stories about the history of our city. We’re excited to see what emerges from the collaborations between the artists and researchers.”

The project team consists of two academic leads from different areas of the University looking at the issues raised from both architectural as well as educational and inclusivity perspectives.

Led by Dr Chrysoula Papacharalampou from our Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Dr Simon Hayhoe from the Department of Education it also involves the Water Environment Infrastructure and Resilience (WEIR) research unit.

Dr Chrysoula Papacharalampou explained: “The Water Environment Infrastructure & Resilience (WEIR) research unit of the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering is delighted to co-lead this exciting collaborative project. It is a great opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on the study of flood events. ‘River is the Venue’ will allow us to communicate and share research ideas with local communities through a variety of innovative, creative artworks, including through this exhibition."

Dr Simon Hayhoe added: “The Department of Education is delighted to be involved in this project, fusing art, research and innovative ways of telling accessible and compelling stories about an area and the people in it. This is particularly important work as we work towards much greater inclusion for people in Bath with access needs and we look forward to the creative ideas the River Avon will inspire.”


The deadline for applications from local artists is Sunday 25 March.