January

George the lay figure

George the lay figure

George the lay figure

What does a lay figure in Bath Spa's archive have to tell us about our creative and teaching history? Let George tell you.

I have a historian background, so when I joined Bath Spa last year, I couldn’t help but sense how the marks of the past left an impression on how we work as a University today. The historic beauty of our campuses is a vital source of energy for our modern working world - how many times, for example, have we taken much needed rest and calm from a vista envisioned by Capability Brown himself? Or been inspired by the Classical architectural design of the interiors of Main House, whose orderly plans no doubt lend equal order to our search for the solutions to University problems and life? The spaces, places and objects of the past leave a mark on us at Bath Spa, as we will one day leave our mark on it.

The purpose of these podcasts is to get us thinking about our history, something which Mary Dawson, the first principal of Newton Park’s teacher training college post-World War II noted as a ‘sense in which the students are heirs of a rich culture with roots deep in time’. Newton Park itself has a deep and varied history dating back to Roman times - a Roman villa was discovered, for example, in Newton St. Loe in 1837, while Brunel was extending the Great Western railway between Bath and Bristol. If you think about that, that is a millennium or more of history resting in the soil of a single site. I am a firm believer that human energy leaves its mark on spaces, so I began to wonder if the culture of innovation and creativity that we emphasise at Bath Spa had older, historic roots.

The first object I discuss in this podcast series is somewhat of an unusual piece, but it has a long story to tell. It starts on the streets of Hogarthian London, moving through the battered and bruised site of Bath after its bombing in the second World War, to the playful and heady days of creative production that marked the Bath Academy of Art in the 1950s and 60s.

George, as you will soon know to call him, does not speak, but perhaps will a little bit of help, we can coax him to tell us about how his status as a learning tool has left its mark on the creative and teaching history of Bath Spa.

Listen here to find out George’s story (transcript also available): 

*Many thanks to Bath Spa's library and its wonderful librarians, particularly Hazel Grainger, for helping me with my research for this post.

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.

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