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BRLSI is fun, fascinating and free
Paul and Linda McCartney - RPS - Bath 1992 / Source: carlochinca.com
Part exhibition space, part museum, part public institution, this is a powerful and welcoming organisation. It is genuinely welcoming, and whenever I go, there are members of every generation enjoying themselves.
The large square exhibition space, with its intriguing text boards for inquisitive visitors.
BRLSI (Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution) is a brilliant organisation that actively promotes Science, Literature and Art. Housed in an elegant building overlooking Queens Square, it regularly exhibits the work and collaborations of some very impressive artists, scientists and writers. The subjects of the exhibitions are usually world renown, and yet amazingly, BRLSI does not charge its visitors. Donations are welcome however and are used to secure and fund future events.
A positive place for generations. The building was once home to Wwilliam Oliver MD , who founded the superb Mineral hospital in Bath, which is famous for its excellent treatment of Rheumatic conditions.
The 9th February marks the opening of 'Carlo Chinca', a retrospective exhibition exploring his the photographer's 45-year career. Chinca has photographed some of the most famous people on earth, and there are some epic celebrity portraits on show here, with Sir Paul McCartney and Salvador Dali amongst them. I quickly discovered that Chinca's work is both fierce and yet deeply emotive. Of the eight large photographic canvases on show, I was most moved by a photograph taken during the aftermath of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack in New York. Apparently, Chinca was the first British photographer to photograph Ground Zero after the attack. The images are all the more atmospheric because they are black and white.
Approaching BRSLI, on a rainy Bath day. Easily accessible from the train and bus stations, or there is the massive Charlotte Street Car Park literally around the corner.
Although impressive, there is nothing arrogant or posed about Chinca's photography. Large, interesting text boards explain that as an artist, he was very well known for interacting and seeking an emotional connection with his subjects. Some of the portraits here are almost reportage in style and I felt that they captured a genuine 'moment in time' for the viewer to enjoy. My absolute favourite print is one of Sir Paul McCartney of The Beatles, taken in Bath, where the current headquarters of the Royal Photographic Society is located. It shows 'Macca' enjoying a pint and chatting with local photographers, giving Linda McCartney a sidelong, loving look. Equally fascinating to me were some shots from Spain, a country that Chinca loves dearly. 'The Three Muses' depicts a trio of women at a Spanish funeral. They are dressed in traditional clothes, and there is a fierce intensity to their eyes.
Perhaps the most well-known image of the exhibition is a seated portrait of the flamboyant Salvador Dali. Infamously aloof and arrogant, Dali in this print looks almost childish and playful in his chair. I feel this says a great deal about the presence that Chinca must have when he works.
Salvador Dalí - Port Lligat - Spain 1974 / Source: carlochinca.com
Whenever you come to Bath, BRLSI is a fascinating organisation to visit. With over 150 lectures and talks taking place each year, and many, many exhibitions in the Queens Square building, there is bound to be something going on there. As an institution, it has over 198 years worth of exhibits and artefacts and the building itself has a rich history to discover. There are leaflets about the heritage of the organisation at the entrance doors. This really is an institution that has education and creative learning and celebration at its core, and I am always struck by the fact that it has free admission for all of the wonders it offers.
If planning a visit to Bath, either imminently or at some point in the future, then I recommend having a look at the website. It is chock full of information about the history of BRLSI, and all of the many events that are planned.
Check out this informative website for further details of events, talks and future plans for the institution.