The 55th la Biennale di Venezia – the world-renowned international art exhibition – opened in style at the weekend, with over 150 pieces of art from 37 countries. Over the next few months, over 370,000 visitors will be travelling to Venice to critique the work on display, but perhaps none more expressive that Betty Biennale, an omnipotent art presence, who has been giving her undiluted opinion on the artworks during press week.

Betty Biennale originates from Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) – she is the result of collaboration between Welsh artist Pete Fowler and the AUB Marketing Team. She was created to make the Venice Biennale accessible to an audience in the UK – made up of creatives from AUB, Arts Pavilion Bournemouth (a partnership between AUB, Arts Bournemouth and work in progress for Venice Agendas) and those in the creative industry who are interested in her sharp tongue and candid opinion.

Her Tumblr, bettydoesvenice.tumblr.com promised to be constantly full of champagne and opinion, and Betty didn’t disappoint. Popping up all over Venice during Press week, she offered a backstage look at the Biennale, focusing on those moments of discovery and delight that can only occur during a festival. Betty punctures the pomposity surrounding such a huge art event, holding up a mirror to the usual art-critic persona, and opening up an event that is surrounded by the traditional high-art barriers to a wider audience.

In collaboration with Betty, during the preview week of the Venice Biennale, Arts Pavilion Bournemouth presented a series of live art performances by established and emerging practitioners, including The Girls, Tim Russell and Marcia Farquhar, who had each been asked to pack work in a suitcase and travel to Venice for presentation at Palazzo Zenobio, responding to Venice Biennale Art Director Massimiliano Gioni’s theme of The Encyclopedic Palace.

Arts Pavilion Bournemouth is part of Venice Agendas which has been at the Venice Biennale since 1999 – they construct a series of topical and intelligent discussions, talks, debates and recordings during the Biennale.