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Watercolour Painting', Anne Bean, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist and Form Associates.


Watercolour Painting



Bristol City Council is currently in the process of completing a number of new developments on the Hengrove Park site in South Bristol. Included in the development masterplan is the new Hengrove Leisure Centre. As part of the development artist Anne Bean was commissioned to develop a new artwork for the building, working closely with the art consultants FoRM Associates.

Anne Bean has undertaken numerous solo and collaborative projects worldwide in a range of media from light and sound to performance, sculpture and drawing. Born in Zambia and resident in the UK, she studied Fine Art at Cape Town and Reading Universities and made her first performance work outside Africa in 1970. 

Bean’s work for Bristol which is currently under detailed design comprises a digital film work based on the history of synchronised swimming in the City. Performance based and using thermal imaging, the work was shot on location in Bristol. Synchronised swimming began at Bristol Central Pool in 1947 and swimmers soon formed the “Bristol Central Floating Team”. International breakthrough came in 1977 when Caroline Holmyard was picked to swim for Great Britain. Since then, Bristol’s swimmers’ involvement at International level has continued now involving training full time in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. 

For Bean, synchronized swimming is a hybrid form of swimming, dance and gymnastics. It consists of swimmers performing a synchronized routine of elaborate moves in the water, accompanied by music. Synchronized swimming demands advanced water skills, and requires great strength, endurance, flexibility, grace, artistry and precise timing, as well as exceptional breath control when upside down underwater. Bodies and water merge together and limbs entangle to create continually changing visual conundrums. Visions are conjured of exotic foliage or bizarre creatures. 

The essence of  Anne’s developed proposal is to focus on working with the Bristol synchronised swimmers videoing the flows, fluctuations and kinetic energy of the synchronised swimming and ‘capturing ‘ these oscillating visual formations as a moving image displayed on video screens. The three-screen installation will be located in the public foyer and will allow the segueing edit of the moving image and exact synchronisation to vividly reveal the huge dynamics and energy fields that these synchronised bodies create with and within the swirling, eddying, frothing, splashing, churning agitations of the water. 

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Watercolour Painting', Anne Bean, 2011. Image courtesy of the artist and Form Associates.

Anne Bean 

For 40 years, Anne Bean has undertaken numerous solo and collaborative projects worldwide, in diverse media including performance, installation, drawing, photography, video and sound, using materials that range from fire, wind, steam and honey to laughter and breath. She recently was awarded a Franklin Furnace International Fellowship in New York where she worked with several artists to produce Drawn Conversations exhibited in Space Gallery. In 2009 she received a British Council Creative Collaborations and Visiting Arts award to bring together women from Iraq, Croatia, Israel and N. Ireland to make work in each other’s countries resulting in a commission, called PAVES, for NRLA, Glasgow, 2010. 

For the past 2 years she has been working on a durational performance/installation Long Time Passing involving workshops and vocalizing with many local women that has taken place in London, Iraq, Brussels and France. She was commissioned by Laing Gallery Newcastle to look at a work she did there in 1986 for Notes on a Return, 2009. LADA/Tate Modern awarded her the first Legacy: Thinker in Residence Award which culminated in a major collaborative work at Matts Gallery, London in Spring 2010. 

Her recent commissioned works include project for Festival ad Werf along with the City of Utrecht to produce a book and public work relating to languages spoken in the city. As a part of Power Plant, a group of artists working on outdoor installations, she has been part of large –scale works in Oxford, Liverpool, Durham, Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, and Melbourne. 

Anne has twice been awarded the Time Out Award for performance art, once for her long-standing contribution to live art and then as a founder member of the legendary Bow Gamelan Ensemble with Paul Burwell and Richard Wilson. 

FoRM Associates is a London-based design practice that looks holistically at the ‘liveability’ of 21st century cities, creating places that are better to live in, work in and enjoy. 

We are urbanists in the widest sense, working collaboratively to fuse urban design and landscape architecture with ecology, environmental design, master-planning, architecture, branding, lighting, arts, media and engineering. FoRM delivers aspirational and cohesive responses to complex urban situations by bringing together a range of professional disciplines in effective collaboration. 

Our approach to place making is focused on developing visions for clients and cities that are distinctive, sustainable and functional. Form produces innovative and contemporary design solutions that avoid preconceived styles and instead respond directly to their social and environmental context. 

Whether at the scale of urban masterplans or intimate sanctuaries, our design process takes the specific social, cultural and economic factors at play and combines them with sustainable environmental practice. By inviting people to join the process we form new places that embody the values of their inhabitants and users, contribute positively to their urban setting and inject vitality into their city’s economy. 

The ultimate success of creating new places depends upon delivering the vision with clarity. FoRM’s hallmark lies in its ability to design functional and people orientated public realms that are inspiring both in their design and in reality.