EXHIBITION: Building Memory – The architecture of death and burial in Bath
Yet again, the Museum of Bath Architecture’s annual exhibition is both provocative and revealing. Last year the focus was on the old informing the new, specifically modern architecture at the University of Bath. In 2018 the curator takes us on a journey of remembrance, highlighting structures and spaces in Bath made to celebrate great lives and commemorate tragic loss, many of which now lie abandoned and forgotten. Victorian cemeteries, a peaceful garden for suffragettes and sombre war memorials all feature, and were designed to be visible links to events and personalities of the past.
The architecture of commemoration can create a strong emotional response: a tall column can tower over us and make us feel small; lists of names on a school’s war memorial upset us with the scale of young lives lost; and row after row of aging tombs in an overgrown graveyard are a physical reminder of time passing and of our own mortality. Victorian design celebrated death, but by the early 20th century a dramatic change in the architecture of memorials had occurred. In this centenary of Votes for Women and end of the First World War, this exhibition explores the architectural language of memory in Bath.
Dr. Amy Frost, Senior Curator of Bath Preservation Trust, says:
“We wanted to show how commemorating death has changed through the centuries in Bath, from elaborate medieval tombs and ledger stones to plaques and planting trees. The design of memorials can be incredibly powerful, and the images and objects in this exhibition remind us of how imaginative design can celebrate achievements and commemorate sacrifice.’
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