It was great to meet Emma Larkinson and Jayne Murray from Place Prospectors to hear all about a piece of artwork they’ve been commissioned to produce as part of the project to bring Stirchley Baths back into use as a community hub.
In fact, Emma and Jayne (who organised the Stirchley Prospects and Love Stirchley More events) will be producing two pieces of artwork.
The first will be a piece of participatory art that will be started in June when the funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is submitted. It will be called (somewhat fittingly at this critical stage in the project) ‘Sink or Swim’ and will require lots of community participation, so we’ll keep you updated on the details for this so you can get involved.
The second piece of artwork will be housed inside the community hub and Emma and Jayne have a number of ideas that they’re working up. They talk about them in detail in the interview but some ideas include:
- Signs made of glitterboard (a material that moves and ripples gently, giving an appearance of water) to direct people from the rear of the Baths to the entrance at the front
- There is space in the entrance lobby for a welcome mat. In fact, an indentation in the floor shows clearly where the original would have been. Emma and Jayne are thinking of making a new welcome mat
- Remember the ceremonial key that was used to open the Baths in 1911? A new one could be made to mark the re-opening of the building as a community hub
- Emma and Jayne are looking to utilise the bore hole in the Baths. When it opened, the original plan was to well for water but, unfortunately, a source was never found
Some of the ideas come from the history of the site long before the Baths were built. Research by Emma and Jayne has uncovered some fascinating details of what took place on the site, including:
1830: The Beer House Act led to the opening of many beer houses in an attempt to minimise the drinking of gin! The Black Horse beerhouse and stables opened on the site of Stirchkey Baths in this year
In the 1890s a wonderfully named Blood Tub Theatre was on the site, a tent theatre to present old melodramas