Welcome to the Gala Pool Art Project blog. This post represents a real milestone, as it’s been a year since we started planning this project in September 2018.
Why this project and why now?
The Gala Pool was closed to swimmers in 2003, but it was still accessible to visitors for heritage tours and other occasional community activities, mostly associated with the campaign to keep the baths open. Sadly, the roof of the pool had deteriorated to the point that it was dangerous, and no public activity was allowed. More importantly, as the grandest space in the building, its visible decay was a high profile reminder of the threat this internationally significant heritage site was under. The good news is the roof is currently being refurbished! following an investment by Historic England, Birmingham City Council, World Monument Fund and National Trust.
This project will act as a celebration of the completed building work, which will allow the pool space to be used for community uses again, and is another step in the long term regeneration of Moseley Road Baths. Through this project, we hope the reopening of the Gala Pool gives us the opportunity to re-connect the people of Balsall Heath to the baths and make a stunning artistic impact in the space, through high quality, engaging and participatory contemporary art. It will also allow us to continue the conversation with the community on what they would like to see happen in and with the spaces at the baths.
Selecting the artists
We decided to recruit artists through an open callout process, which took place in January and February 2019. 70 artists submitted outline proposals responding to the brief. I viewed some incredible ideas as part of this process and wish we could have commissioned a year’s worth of programme! Sadly we only had enough funding for one commission, so we shortlisted 15 artists who attend an open day at Moseley Road Baths, from which 6 artists were selected for the final shortlist and invited to interview. The panel decided to commission Juneau Projects, as we strongly believed their idea would reflect the essence of the baths as past, present and future community space.
After a year of planning the project is now in full swing, and we held animation workshops at Moseley Road Baths towards the end of the school holidays. The workshops were the first time the public was able to engage with the project. So keep a lookout on this webpage for more workshops happening soon.
We look forward to welcoming you through the doors of the Gala Pool to experience the completed project for yourself in February 2020.
Project Coordinsator, Gala Pool Art Project