Bath's Annual Fringe Visual Arts Festival
FAB is Bath's only visual arts festival, we actively promote and celebrate contemporary art in the Bath area and beyond, showcasing early career artists and curators, and those who find it difficult to break into (or prefer to operate outside of) the gallery based art scene.
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Abbey Embraces Outsider Art

Joe Tymkow - Fringe Arts Bath

During a show of my artwork at The Octagon, Milsom Street in May 2011 I met one of Bath’s Big Issue vendors. He talked enthusiastically about his own photography and drawings, stayed about an hour and returned later in the week with a few friends.

It occurred to me that we rarely see artwork produced by homeless people themselves; that there must be quite a number that either already make work, or would like to be able to if they had the opportunity/facilities.

After visiting the Big Issue office and discussing my idea of presenting artwork produced by some of the homeless people in Bath to the public, my contact details were passed on to Bath Abbey. As a result Kerry Headen got in touch and told me about the ‘Think Different’ show that she had been organising at the Abbey for the past two years. It comprised a combination of painting, photography, drawing, craft, furniture restoration, allotment produce etc, and that several other organisations in the Bath area were also involved.

I was unaware of the 'Think Different' project and it seemed reasonable to assume that a large number of other people in Bristol, Bath and the surrounding area must be equally unaware of the work that the Abbey and other Bath-based agencies are doing.

As the show at the Abbey took place during the week before the Bath Fringe Festival it seemed an ideal opportunity to take a selection of the artwork and relocate it to the FaB venue in Stall Street; this then extended the exposure for a further two weeks and, more importantly, opened up the work being done by the artists and agencies involved to a much wider audience, particularly to those that would not necessarily have the opportunity to visit the Abbey during the short time that the exhibition is on.

The Opening night of the FaB Festival was officially from 6pm - 9pm on Friday 25th May, in fact so many people came that it stayed open till 11pm. Over 6500 people visited the Stall Street venue during the 17 days of the Festival, with quite a number specifically asking to see the artwork from the Abbey.


Some of the Agencies working with the homeless & vulnerable in Bath


Bath Abbey hosts an exhibition with a difference

What: ‘Think Different’, an art exhibition which will surprise, delight and challenge our perceptions of the homeless and vulnerable in Bath

When: Friday 18 May to Wednesday 23 May (during Abbey opening hours)

Where: South Transept, Bath Abbey, BA1 1LT

For the third consecutive year, Bath Abbey is hosting ‘Think Different’, an art exhibition designed to challenge the public’s perceptions of the homeless and vulnerable among us. 

Open to the public from Friday 18 May to Wednesday 23 May during the Abbey’s visiting hours, the exhibition consists of paintings, animation, photography and creative writing created by locals who are currently supported by Bath’s homeless charities. Each year the variety and quality of the exhibits surprises and delights, while challenging us to think about the individual exhibitor’s circumstances, potential, and above all, our own perceptions of the homeless and vulnerable.

Kerry Headen, Bath Abbey’s Homelessness Initiative Manager, said: “The Abbey continues to prioritise its work with local communities and charities, and we are delighted, once again, to be involved with a project which helps people look beyond the label of ‘homeless’ and all its preconceptions. ‘Think Different’ is the perfect opportunity to represent some of the most marginalised in our community - the silent, lost or forgotten - and to invite the public to think about these issues a little more.

“There are real people in real need in Bath every day, but sometimes it can be hard to think of them as individuals. They may be the Big Issue sellers that we walk past in the street, but actually could just as easily be the person sitting right next to you. There are a number of agencies in the city who do invaluable work supporting the homeless and vulnerable, giving people opportunities to change their lives positively through various projects such as this one.”

‘Think Different’ is a joint project between Bath Abbey and seven Bath homeless and housing organisations: Big Issue, Clean Slate Training and Employment, DHI (Developing Health and Independence), Julian House, Genesis Trust, Shape Housing and Stonham Housing.

This year, the exhibition has been invited to be part of the Bath Fringe Festival, the city’s only visual arts festival. Once ‘Think Different’ ends at the Abbey, there will be a second chance to see it at Stall Street from 25 May to 10 June.

For further details please contact Elaine Teh or Kerry Headen on 01225 422462 or email: or


Think Different


On any one night, more than 200 families and individuals find themselves without a permanent home, some sleeping rough, others in hostels or on sofas, across the county.

Kerry Headen, the Bath Abbey Homelessness Initiative Manager works with the different agencies supporting those who are homeless in BANES and by doing so, reaches out to hundreds, if not thousands of people, daily on the Abbey's behalf.

Just this year, we have been involved with a wide range of programmes and initiatives which not only tackle the direct consequences of homelessness, but also the underlying reasons why men and women are forced onto the streets. In fact, a number of projects are targeted at preventing people from becoming homeless.

A recent report showed that more than 1,800 households in BANES will be affected badly by benefit cuts. The Abbey has worked with Quids In! magazine and Clean Slate to offer vital information at the right time to those who will be most badly affected.

It is tempting to think that only a few ‘workshy’ families will be affected, but this could not be further from the truth, and a key part of our role is to dispel this myth to prevent many working, low income families from ignoring the changes and the potentially disastrous outcomes.

It can be hard to think of homeless people as individuals, so overwhelmingly negative are the media stereotypes we often see, which is why it is important for us to continue taking part in projects which help people look beyond the label 'homeless', with all its associations. This year’s ‘Think Different’ exhibition helps us to show the homeless as real individuals with diverse skills and experiences, and is a vibrant reminder of the talents, creativity and resilience of the homeless in Bath.

Future plans include a much-needed and much-anticipated new Homelessness Guide, further projects on informing those at-risk about benefit changes and how we respond to these. We also hope to fund a pilot project together with the Deposit Bond scheme to support those searching for privately rented accommodation, a process which can be very overwhelming.