Bath's Annual Fringe Visual Arts Festival
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Sum - The Contemporary Sublime

Sum explores ideas about the Contemporary Sublime through themes of performance, meditation, the Ego, escapism, technology and our engagement with the natural environment. It features sculpture, installation, 3D printed objects, sound recording and video by six emerging artists.

Curated by Ollie Adams

Venue: FaB 1, 15 New Bond St, BA1 1BA
Open 10am to 6pm - Sat 27 May to Sat 10 June
and 10am to 3pm Sun 11 June



Exhibiting artists:

Ollie Adams, Hannah BallGeorge BillsHannah DanceJody Hamblin and Andy Walders 

Within the Arts, the sublime is defined as a quality of greatness beyond calculation, measurement or imitation. It is both awe-inspiring and fear inducing in its incomprehensible vastness. The sublime is the name given to that which we cannot encapsulate; it is the contemplation of infinity, it is transcendence, it is otherness. Sum explores how this idea fits into a contemporary context.

Traditional European notions of the sublime were conveyed through representations of the natural world’s might and magnitude, with ferocious volcanoes, relentless storms and untameable seas. The merciless power of Nature was shrouded in the mystique of the unknown and the unpredictable, undulating with a divine omnipresence, and set against the sometimes-heroic yet ultimately vulnerable image of mankind.

As our understanding of the natural world has evolved through scientific discovery, so too has our engagement with the sublime. Artists and writers of late have turned to digitalisation, government and capitalism, to name but a few examples, as a new source of sublimity, exploring their expanding vastness and their destructive potential. 

Departing from the monumental physicality with which the sublime is often associated, Sum explores the complex psychologies of sublimity through performance, materiality and subtle technological application. 


George Bills

The Wilson Project is named after the film Castaway, in which Tom Hanks becomes deserted on a tropical island. In his loneliness, Hanks befriends a washed-up volley ball, naming him Wilson. Upon trying to escape from the island on a raft, Wilson is tragically knocked overboard and is lost at sea. Hank’s devastation is humorous yet simultaneously tragic in his desperation. In 2012 George attempted to make his own escape; he built his own raft in his Bournemouth studio out of ordinary, domestic objects, including plastic drain pines, large water containers and tarpaulin, held together with rope and twine. The Wilson Project highlights the humorous absurdity and desperation of the modern age through escapism, poetic endeavour, failure and vulnerability. At its core, The Wilson Project is deeply human.

View Artist's Website...

The Wilson Project, 2012, duration 38 mins, ©GeorgeBills2012


Hannah Ball

My current practice revolves around ideas of tension, water and rigging. Physical properties that are tangible in spaces are reference points for the various elements in my work.

 I hold a multi-disciplinary practice, leaning towards towards installation, performance, media and sculpture. The elements within my practice, although although very specific, have inter-changeable relationships that allow them to exist cohesively as a whole. The potential energy of water and wind, and harnessing these forces through different means-rigging, tension, holding, manipulating- is a research methodology that I use consistently.

I make installations using materials such as scaffolding, rope, elastic and habotai silk. I then transfer these materials into different environments, for example, using them as the instructions for my dance performances. The interaction of these materials across my different disciplines is important as it allows me to explore their full potential. Language and material are used as instructions to create active and dynamic performances that are fundamentally a reaction to descriptions of water based natural phenomena.  

I am fundamentally interested in the mutability of water; it’s constantly changing states acts as a playful notion that reflects my approach to how I make work.

The way in which I use materials reflects the way they react to water, rigging, fluidity, force, kinetic movement; these are all verbs that I use as an instructional system to make work. Whether in performance, drawing or sculpture, these instructional actions are both a reflection of the process of making, as well as the documentation of the event itself.

The space and environments in which my work exists is crucial to the concept. How the audience interacts with the performance or installation, is a reflection of my research into how we navigate space and interpret art. The way in which water or any other energy force travels through the work or space, is how I want the audience to engage with it; to gain a better understanding of their physicality. Artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerester’s research into the changeability of spaces within an art context, heavily resonates in my own practice. The role of human interference or manipulation is something that I am currently challenging within my instructional dance performances.

View Artist's Website...

Underwater Scaffolding, performance, ©HannahBall2017



Hannah Dance

I am fundamentally interested in flowers and our relationship to them. Growing up with both parents as Landscape Gardeners I have a strong sentimental nostalgia. I find solace in flowers and through my work I want to try to elicit memories associated with them to the viewer.

The complex natural patterns that occur in nature, specifically in foliage and flowers, is something that is reoccurring through my interest in fabric and material that all reference plants, but by also using real plants to tell my story for me and to show identity

With a focus on flowers, their aesthetics and decorative uses in the same way material does, I am working with the materiality of fabric that echoes the textures and tactility of flowers. The immediate surroundings of plant life and images of plants in the studio, and the study of pattern, stacks of materials and books all unfold onto and into a surface. The arrangement of collages and objects taking on their own life, space and surface.

The idea of the domestic has always been important, a focus for me, the idea of a peaceful home or garden, I feel like I make a lot of home environments. Domesticity is imbued in my practice by way of the materials and flowers used, they conjure for the viewer thoughts of sensation, memories comfort and life lived.

I asked myself what is the fascination with a simple flower like the fuchsia? The question probably gave me a clue to the answer - The simplicity.

View Artist's Website...

installation view ©HannahDance2017


Andy Walders

 Work pertaining to existentialist themes, made with economic means to portray complex meaning. 

Sum, 2011, performance duration 120 mins, ©AndyWalders2011