The Art of Expression: The Bath Festival comes to The Holburne Museum

The Bath Festival in May is putting on a series of events especially suited to the collections and themes found in The Holburne Museum. Georgette McCready takes a look along Great Pulteney Street to find out more…

The rising stars of classical music
You can begin your Bath Festival day at 11am each morning, with a series of exhilarating concerts by young performers. British cellist Laura van der Heijden – who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2012 – begins the week at the Holburne playing Bach, American composer Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson and Imogen Holst. 16 May, 11am

Pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason is the third member of the Kanneh-Mason family to reach the final stages of BBC Young Musician of the Year. Her programme includes the elegance of Mozart to the virtuoso fireworks of Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No 2 and Liszt. 17 May, 11am

Pianist Ariel Lanyi emerged as a major musical talent as a prize-winner in the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2021. He will be playing Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Op.15 and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 29 in B, Op. 106 (Hammerklavier). 18 May 11am

On Thursday, violinist Irène Duval and pianist Sam Armstrong pair up for a ravishing French programme which includes Francis Poulenc, Gabriel Fauré and Camille Saint-Saëns. 19 May, 11am

On the Friday, accordionist Ryan Corbett mixes baroque, romantic and contemporary music. 20 May, 11am. And violinist Joanian Ilias Kadesha completes this galaxy of rising stars on Saturday. 21 May, 11am

Perspectives on art and design
Gaze from the other side of the canvas at the models of art as art historian and critic Ruth Millington talks to Holburne Museum director Chris Stephens about the women who have inspired masterpieces across the centuries. 16 May, 3.30pm

In English Garden Eccentrics landscape architect and author Todd Longstaffe-Gowan reveals a fascinating array of English garden-makers who, between the 17th and 18th centuries created idiosyncratic gardens incorporating miniature mountains, exotic animals, caves and topiary. 17 May, 3.30pm

In 2003 writer Helen Rappaport discovered the lost painting of British-Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole that now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. With an illustrated talk she’ll unravel the enigma of the unknown artist and detail her journey. 18 May, 6pm

Wimpey homes, Millennium monuments, wind farms and skyscrapers. Self-confessed architecture geek John Grindrod, author of Iconicon, takes us on an enthralling journey round the Britain we have created since 1980: the horrors and delights, the triumphs and failures. 17 May, 6pm

The 19th-century landscape painter John Constable is one of Britain’s best-loved but perhaps least understood artists. Art and cultural historian James Hamilton (Constable: A Portrait) reveals a complex, troubled man, explodes myths and establishes him as a giant of European art. 19 May, 3.30pm

Acclaimed painter Celia Paul has felt a lifelong connection to the artist Gwen John. Letters to Gwen John is a combination of imagined correspondence and insightful artistic biography, interspersed with original art. She talks to Chris Stephens about the parallels in their lives and work. 19 May, 6pm

Art critic and biographer Frances Spalding (The Real and the Romantic) looks at English art between two world wars, focusing on artists including Stanley Spencer and Eric Ravilious and painters such as Winifred Knights and Evelyn Dunbar. 20 May, 3.30pm

Creative game-changers
DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which he’d originally called Tenderness, was condemned as obscene on publication in 1928. Alison MacLeod talks to Richard Owen (former Times correspondent and author of DH Lawrence in Italy) about her novel Tenderness based around Lawrence’s story, from its creation to the infamous indecency trial of 1960 and its subsequent success. 16 May, 6pm

Patrick Mackie’s Mozart in Motion allows us to look at this extraordinary composer anew. The biographical narrative is illuminated by examination of the composition and social environment of masterpieces through Mozart’s life which reveals a musician in dialogue with culture at its most sweepingly progressive. Alistair Hogarth performs musical examples to set Patrick’s beautiful writing in context. 18 May, 3.30pm

Author and Time Out publisher Peter Fiennes (A Thing of Beauty) tells of his journeys on the trail of the Greek myths, exploring the modern relevance of Theseus, Hera and Pandora and the places
where heroes fought and gods once quarrelled. 20 May, 6pm

Authors in conversation
Finally, there are two author events at the Holburne on Saturday 21 May. Contemporary novelists Claire Fuller and Sarah Moss will be taking about their work and how the world has changed since March 2020. Tackling themes ranging from rural poverty, otherness and isolation to resilience, human connection and hope, this is guaranteed to be a conversation full of empathy, insight and intelligence.

By contrast Judith Robinson and Scott Pack will inspire us with ten international titles, many of them published in translation, helping you to discover amazing writers and stories from around the world.

The Bath Festival, celebrating music and books in a beautiful city, runs from 13–21 May with a series of citywide live events. Find out more and purchase tickets by ringing 01225 46336 or by visiting

Featured image © Evoke Pictures