Retracing Bideford Black: A call for personal stories…

On Wednesday 20th March, from 11.30am-3.30pm, the Burton Art Gallery in Bideford, is hosting a ‘Show and Tell’ day where they will be inviting the local community to help research, gather and document stories and artefacts, and share their memories and experiences of Bideford Black.

Bideford Black is a unique pigment found only in Bideford, used by the local ship building industry, for tank camouflage in WWII, as a dye and artist’s colour, and even by Max Factor in make up production. It is a naturally occurring pigment, which was mined for over 200 years, until 1969.

The ceramic history of Bideford and its significance as a port are well documented, but the story of Bideford Black, which links the industrial heritage of the town and its vibrant artistic culture to its surrounding geological and natural history remains less well known.

Miranda Clarke, Visual Arts Manager at the Burton Art Gallery says: “Quite a few members of the local community still remember Bideford Black, but if we’re not careful to record and document these memories and collect relevant artefacts that first-hand information will be lost forever. For me, what’s even more exciting is that Bideford Black is not only part of our local heritage but it’s also an artist’s material. In fact a number of local artists, such as Pete Ward, who inspired this project, still use Bideford Black in their work. So it has a direct connection with the current day.”


The ‘Show and Tell’ day is part of the Burton Art Gallery’s exciting project ‘The Story of Bideford Black’ to find out more about the rich history of Bideford Black and its relationship to the area

BBC TV presenter and historian Michael Wood, said: “We British love our history, and no wonder: few nations in the world, if any, have such riches on their doorstep, and so much of it accessible to all of us. It is really tremendous that the people of Bideford have been inspired to get involved to tell their own story and to dig deeper into their own past. It’s brilliant that so many people are being given the chance to get involved through the All Our Stories grants. Having travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles this last year filming The Great British Story, I am certain that fascinating and moving stories will be uncovered which will not only bring to life the excitement of local history, but will illuminate and enrich every community’s connection with the national narrative.”

All of the stories and research collected will contribute to the production of a specially designed new permanent exhibit within the Burton Art Gallery and Museum and the production of a teachers’ pack for work in schools.

NAROOMA NOEL & PHIL, NS Wales, image courtesy Trish Roberts 2012

Stories, information, images and artefacts gathered are also shared via a blog, website and social media pages. Stories already collected have come from as far afield as New South Wales in Australia. To read more, visit:

This project is funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘All Our Stories’ programme, and supported by the Friends of the Burton.

OUT NOW: No Tragedy, new single and short film by Exeter music/filmmaker duo Drunk With Joy..

By Digital Institute of Early Parenthood Posted in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s