Bideford Black: The Next Generation

New art commissions to explore science, industry and society in local pigment project

Nine  artists have been selected to make new work for the Bideford Black: The Next Generation project ahead of a special exhibition at the Burton Art Gallery in October 2015.

Bideford Black is a unique pigment found only in Bideford. This project connects the heritage of the area with the tradition of using it as an artist’s material, commissioning and documenting its use by contemporary artists, developing a greater understanding of this rare material in a contemporary artistic context.

Caption: Images of Neville & Joan Gabie's research into Bideford Black in plastics production. With thanks to Hampton Plastics.  Copyright Carolyn Black

Caption: Images of Neville & Joan Gabie's research into Bideford Black in plastics production. With thanks to Hampton Plastics. Copyright Carolyn Black

On the 11th March, there will be an early opportunity to meet one of the artists at the gallery when Luce Choules will be presenting her recent alpine fieldwork project Guide74 in a special ‘performance lecture’. She will also introduce Seam, the new choreographed exhibition she is creating for Bideford Black: The Next Generation. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Choules explores physical and emotional geography through experimental fieldwork.

Selected by open call last autumn, all of the artists are developing new artworks either with, or about, Bideford Black pigment, for the Burton’s permanent collection.

Devon-based artist Tabatha Andrews works in a range of media including drawing and casting forms in paper.

Artist duo ATOI, based in Cornwall, are exploring the transformation of material from one form to another. The pair are experimenting with using Bideford Black in false diamonds and even as a surface for martial arts.

Inspired by Bideford’s historic industries and their workers, and society’s pre-occupation with the natural, London-based artist Corinne Felgate will set up a temporary cottage industry at a North Devon location. Using only local natural materials, Felgate will create 100 small objects for applying ‘Bideford Black mascara’.

Prompted by Bideford Black, and using a shared sketchbook, artists Neville Gabie and Joan Gabie are holding a ‘dialogue of ideas’ with Cultural Geographer Ian Cook (University of Exeter). Together, the artists explore the physicality, social and geological significance of Bideford Black, creating an artist’s film and drawings.

Lanarkshire-based artist duo Littlewhitehead are interested in the environmental processes forming Bideford Black: what would the Carboniferous period have sounded like? Their developing commission is tightly under wraps, but may incorporate experimental sound recordings or Bideford Black discs resembling vinyl LP records.

Lizzie Ridout will set Bideford Black within a new taxonomy – or story – of the colour black. Incorporating her research into the subject, the Cornwall-based artist will create a printed publication, presented as a sculpture, pieces of which audience members may be able to take away.

The final artist, Sam Treadaway is working with Bristol botanists to create a scent inspired by Bideford Black. The scent will be interactively transmitted into the gallery space using a bubble-blowing machine developed by roboticists from the University of the West of England.

Film-maker Liberty Smith is documenting the Bideford Black: The New Generation project. As well as filming the eight artists and artist duos as they research and create their work, Liberty will film the landscape around Bideford and the North Devon coast. Smith’s film will be premiered as part of the project exhibition in October 2015.

To get an inside glimpse of those involved in the project do join the upcoming talk by Luce Choules on  11th March at 7pm at the Burton Art Gallery. This is a free admission event, but booking is advised  –  tel 01237 471455 or email

And another date for your diaries, “Bideford Black: The Next Generation Exhibition” opens on 3rd October at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford, Devon, EX39 2QQ



The Art of Paper Cutting

Mix up a Saturday, 7 people, a pile of cutting boards, blades and a stack of black paper and you get the most inspired day doing something totally different.

I have just returned from a “Paper-Cutting” course at the Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, with the artist Caroline Rees.  Textile design student Caroline Rees has evolved her career as a sandblasted glass artist into a paper cut artist over the last few years and was in Devon to share her deceptively simply technique of making papercuts.

Photo credit: Simon Williams

So after the basic introductions, and the amazement that Caroline had travelled from Swansea to Bideford to run the course for us, we set to work practicing cutting out simple squares on a piece of black paper on the chopping mat, using the blade.  In no time, most of the class were ready to move onto working on an image.  For some, this was hand drawing an outline and being smart enough to work out how to simplify the image and block it out ready for cutting.  For the rest of us we found an appealing stencil in Caroline’s collection, outlined the image on black paper and then, almost in a therapeutic trance, cut around the multitude of lines to reveal a stunning image.

For me the appeal of paper cutting is that you don’t need to be an artist, in fact, you don’t even need to be able to draw.  The equipment will cost you less than a tenner (cutting board, blade and some paper) and the results are astonishing.  All you need is time, actually hours of time, to master the real art of cutting perfect, intricate, tiny shapes.  Trust me, I was in awe of the lady working alongside me who was able to cut out weenie circles to make the buds on her flower pattern (SO difficult).

Paper cutting – the beginners’ steps.

1)   Purchase a cutting board, blade and black paper.

2)   Think about what you want to draw.  For me it was tough to sit and really think about what image I wanted to create.

3)   Create an outline by hand or from a stencil.

4)   Break it down into small parts and work out how each part would need to be cut.

5)   Then have fun and start cutting out the image from the smallest parts first.  Be patient.


The draw? The desire to learn something new, something frivolous in Bideford.

The attraction? A skill that requires no digitization, just the work of the human hand.  And Caroline Rees – like the art of paper cuts, is enchanting.

The result?  A huge sense of personal accomplishment as the image emerges from blank piece of paper revealing something I can hang on my kitchen wall with pride!  And the relief that I now know what I am going to get everyone for Christmas!

So if you fancy having a go at paper cutting, and you missed this course, there is a small selection of paper cutting books on sale at the Burton Art Gallery shop.  But if paper cutting isn’t for you, then Caroline’s limited edition paper cuts are also on sale at the Burton.

For details on upcoming workshops at the Burton Art Gallery visit:

Venue Contact Details:
THE BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM, Kingsley Road, Bideford EX39 2QQ
(e)   (t) 01237 471455 (w)

Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm.

Artist Contact Details:
CAROLINE REES, Studio (by appointment), Ty Glas, 2a Overland Road, Langland, Swansea, SA3 4LS

(e)  (t)01792 447 547 (w)



Lucy Goaman

Contemporary Art in the Countryside

ARTIST ROOMS On TourRichard Long  4th October 2014  – 10th January 2015 Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford, Devon

The Burton Art Gallery and Museum, is proud to present a public exhibition of works by the celebrated land artist Richard Long, as part of ARTIST ROOMS On Tour.

In a career that now spans nearly 50 years, Richard Long, has tested the boundaries of art by creating a substantial and varied collection of work in which he has taken nature as his subject but also as the source of his materials. Credited with being closely associated with the emergence of a new art form, Land Art, Long won the Turner Prize in 1989 and is one of Britain’s most significant artists, living and working in his beloved West Country.

Richard Long’s work is deep rooted in his affinity with nature, developed often during walks around the British countryside. Walking repetitively in a line, making a circle of pebbles, arranging sticks in their hundreds, using mud as paint and piling up stones are just some of the many ways in which Richard Long has interacted with the landscape.  He was amongst a new generation of British artists who wanted to extend the possibilities of sculpture beyond the confines of traditional artists materials and he began to use natural materials such as clay, pine needles, driftwood, slate, mud and stones in his work. Long is renowned for documenting the experience of his walks with photographs, maps, wall drawings and printed statements, revealing patterns and observations with beauty, creativity and inspiration.

As a student in 1967, Long completed ‘A Line Made By Walking’ – a photograph of a field edged by a wood showing a narrow strip of grass, flattened by the action of him repeatedly walking it. Richard Long has stated “I have the most profound feelings when I am walking, or touching natural materials in natural places.” Paradoxically he states that his work is a portrait of himself in the world, his personal journey through it and the materials he finds along the way.  ‘A Line Made by Walking’ is alongside other pieces in the exhibition which have a relationship to the South West; ‘Cornish Slate Ellipse’, 2009, and ‘Three Moors’ are included within this exhibition.

The works on display at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum are taken from ARTIST ROOMS, an inspirational collection of modern and contemporary art acquired for the nation by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland through the generosity of Anthony d’Offay with additional support from funders, including the Art Fund. The ARTIST ROOMS tour programme, now in its sixth year, is showing at 18 museums and galleries across the UK in 2014. The tour is made possible thanks to the support of Arts Council England and the Art Fund.

Warren Collum, Exhibitions and Collections Officer at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum said, “Right from the beginning of being involved with the ARTIST ROOMS programme, one of the artists I had in mind for The Burton was Richard Long. Many of the works in this exhibition have a direct connection to the South West environment. In particular, the works ‘Cut Slate Ellipse’ and ‘Three Moors’ will resonate strongly with our audiences encouraging them to connect with the materials that make up our environment, but in a totally different context – the gallery space.”

Miranda Clarke, Visual Arts Manager at The Burton added, “We are delighted to be an associate partner as part of ARTIST ROOMS. This is a significant moment in the Burton’s 60+ year history, bringing the Richard Long exhibition to The Burton supports the original remit as set out by Hubert Coop and Thomas Burton, the founders of The Burton, in 1951. Recently on a visit to Tate Modern, travelling up the main escalators I glimpsed the 12foot high map of the UK, which shows where all the ARTIST ROOMS venues are this year. It was incredible to see ‘The Burton Art Gallery and Museum, Bideford’ pinpointed. It made me proud of Bideford and of The Burton.” 

Richard Long’s work is a celebration of wild places that often lie hidden, just off the beaten track.  He is an artist who has had a lifetime of joyful exploration and simple pleasures, exploring the relation of man and nature, expressing, in new ways, the beauty and fragility of this relationship.

The Burton Art Gallery also hosts regular art activities for children and teenagers, allowing them the opportunity to discover their creative side and get artistically active themselves. Visit for further details.

To find out more information about ARTIST ROOMS On Tour please visit  To see the full ARTIST ROOMS collection please visit and

Venue Contact Details:
THE BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM, Kingsley Road, Bideford EX39 2QQ
(e)   (t) 01237 471455 (w)

Opening Hours:

Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm.

Lucy Goaman

Wood Engravers’ craftsmanship at the Burton Art Gallery

Make your Mark! 

Having earned a reputation for creativity, excellence, skilled craftsmanship and distinctiveness of design, wood engraving is valued for its sense of heritage and quality.  Prized by collectors the world over, wood engraving, a very old form of printmaking, has an international reach extending way beyond its English roots.

Last week I had the privilege of visiting the Burton Art Gallery to view The Society of Wood Engravers 76th Annual Exhibition. The Society of Wood Engravers was founded in 1920 and is the oldest and most prestigious wood engravers society in the world. The Society had its resurgence in 1980 and since then has toured throughout the UK sharing works from all over the globe, indeed in the current exhibition in Bideford, the UK works on display are alongside those from the US, Japan and beyond.

Most wood engravers work in a similar way.  Initially the “boxwood” is drenched with paint, once set, the image is painstakingly formed by etching away with millions of score marks using a sharp tool called a “spit sticker,’ until the final design has been created. The raised surface is then coated in a fine layer of ink and once through the press prints directly on paper.  Unlike most artists, wood engravers need to remember that the image cut on the block is the reverse of the final print.  As such, seeing the final image through the press is a great moment, unlike most forms of art, for wood engravers, this is the first time the intricate finished artwork is seen.

In every exhibition I visit at the Burton I try to work out why different pictures appeal, in technical terms, and with regards to wood engraved work, the complexity and range of techniques employed by the artist’s marking with the “spit sticker,” and the content and message the artist is intending to convey.

Hilary Paynter attracted my attention at this exhibition; I guess part of the connection was knowing a little about her work and her intention to make a statement and indeed in many of her pieces, social commentary.  Also as an artist living and working from her home base in Bideford, I feel I can relate to her.

I was also interested in how many of the works depict very physically dramatic locations and for the artist to record them would have meant many hours perched on the edge of a hill, on the side of a river, or cliff whilst the changing seasons, weather and light become a part of the final appearance of the work.

Much of the work on display features intricate designs with beautifully thought through compositions and the range of “marks” is truly extraordinary.  The exhibition, featuring over 140 engravings from Britain and around the world, recognised as the showcase for the engraver’s art, is well worth a visit, and is on at the Burton Art Gallery until 15th September.

Alongside the exhibition, this year’s special feature is a master class day on wood engraving. For anyone who would like to learn more about the art of engraving and create their own wood engraving why not book yourself a place on the workshop day at the Burton Art Gallery on 30th August.  The master class will explore tone, tints and textures in black and white with internationally renowned Hilary Paynter, the past President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers and Chairman of the Society of Wood Engravers.  For more information on the master class and booking information please visit the Burton Art Gallery website

Venue Contact Details:

The Society of Wood Engravers 76th Annual Exhibition at The Burton Art Gallery until 15th September – FREE ADMISSION.

THE BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM, Kingsley Road, Bideford EX39 2QQ
(e)   (t) 01237 471455 (w)

Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm.  Sunday 11am – 4pm.

Lucy Goaman

The Living Art of Wood Engraving

Hilary Paynter’s commitment to craftsmanship and artistic innovation

Having earned a reputation for creativity, excellence, skilled craftsmanship and distinctiveness of design, wood engraving is valued for its sense of heritage and quality.  Prized by collectors the world over, wood engraving, a very old form of printmaking, has an international reach extending way beyond its English roots.

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Bideford based artist, wood engraver and Chairman of the Society of Wood Engravers, Hilary Paynter.  Hilary’s subject matter ranges from rugged coastal scenery such as Clovelly harbour to dramatic landscapes, often portraying distinctive geological forms to domestic observations and controversial socio-political commentary that are intellectually subtle.

Meeting at Hilary’s home studio overlooking the River Torridge, I was blown away by Hilary’s beautiful nineteenth-century iron press, her busy studio, the prints, which were everywhere, piled up to be framed, the hive of activity, but also the calmness of the space.  Hilary graciously gave me a studio tour and took the time to talk through the process she uses when engraving, humbly sharing her little tips and tricks!

For those ‘non-woodengravers’ amongst us, simply, you take a piece of wood, specifically “boxwood,” and then layer paint on one side. Once the paint is set you painstakingly etch away with millions of score marks using a sharp tool called a  “spit sticker’ until you have created a final design. The raised surface is then coated in a fine layer of ink and once through the press prints directly on paper.  In addition, wood engravers need to remember that the image cut on the block is the reverse of the final print. Like any true professional, Hilary made it sound and look so easy!

When asked what her most proud moment has been, Hilary’s face beamed, “I was commissioned to undertake a suite of 14 wood engravings “From the Rivers to the Sea” to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Thomas Bewick, the inventor of wood engraving.  This suite was enlarged from small wood blocks to panels that are 2 metres high by 22 metres wide, and installed on the Metro platforms at the Central Station, Newcastle,” said Hilary.  Hilary proudly shared the images of her installation in situ at the station.  Some of the images showed commuters at the station rushing crazily past. The irony of the absurd acceleration of our lives, in contrast to timeless calm of a wood engraved installation struck.

We now live and work in flux; technologies and markets come and go, converge and fragment at unbelievable speed and in unpredictable ways.  Has technology made us all feel overwhelmed by the relentless demands in our lives? How refreshing then to come across Hilary and the world of wood engravers in which masterpieces are made one dash at a time, with the very same tools, and with the very same speed, as those made over 100 years ago.

Hilary is a truly inspirational artist who has quietly developed her working life with incredible vision and purpose.  Hilary can see things from a different point of view, which I think liberates and stimulates her to think differently.  Hilary’s work is real and “human” in this fast paced, robotic world we live in.

For those of you in North Devon this week why not take time go for a walk along the Tarka Trail in Bideford and make new connections.  Sit and watch the River Torridge from Victoria Park, take time, observe and ponder how you would draw what you see, or indeed how you would create that image as a wood engraving.  If you need further inspiration, visit the Burton Art Gallery from July 26 – September 15 to view Hilary’s work, alongside other wood engravers in The Society of Wood Engravers 76th Annual Exhibition.

Things you may not know about Hilary Paynter

Hilary started her working career as teacher and in the evenings had a hobby as a stone-carver, which she enjoyed.  However with two small children at home, and this hobby taking place in her kitchen, complaints followed from the family of grit in the food resulting in her giving this hobby up!

Her favourite “job” was working with “stroppy kids” in an education unit in Hammersmith of teenage boys, all of whom had been expelled from school.  Hilary enjoyed helping these children, whose previous points of reference were failure, sharing with them all forms of art, including sculpture, watching them grow and become more accepting of themselves and life.

Every year Hilary is creating between 40 -50 pieces of work, ranging from huge public installations to small illustrations.

Hilary is currently the Chairman of the Wood engravers Society and the President of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers.

1n 1982 Hilary created the societies first exhibition, for many years,  ‘The Revival” at the Garden Gallery in Kew.  This was the start of the touring exhibitions which are still going strongly today, with, on average 6 exhibitions a year.

Venue Contact Details:

The Society of Wood Engravers 76th Annual Exhibition at The Burton Art Gallery is on until 15 September 2014 at THE BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM, Kingsley Road, Bideford EX39 2QQ.   01237 471455

Opening Hours:  Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm.


Crafty Activities for the School Holidays at the Burton

Children’s Workshops  (July – September 2014)

Six weeks is a long time to keep anyone entertained, let alone your toughest critics. Don’t panic, though, for those of you in North Devon, the Burton Art Gallery and Museum has got this year’s school summer holidays (24th July – 3rd September) sorted.

Bideford’s Burton Art Gallery has just announced their  “Summer School,” a huge variety of art workshops, all led by local artists, taking place across the holidays.

The eclectic range of creative activities for young people aged 3 to 11 year olds, and families, in its fully equipped contemporary workshop studio include drop-ins, art workshops and craft courses. Families are also encouraged to explore the gallery and museum using the free and self-guided Burton Family Trail (all ages).

Here is a preview of some of the workshops taking place:

Ghostly Sculptural Gadgets

Tuesday 29th July 10am – 4pm £15 Re-create everyday objects from umbrellas to tennis rackets, using a wire frame and tissue paper. Tour the museum and choose your favourite artefact to produce ghostly replicas.

Mad Mechanical Moving Models

Tuesday 5th August 10am – 4pm £15 Create simple moving models using levers and handles from painted & decorated card and recycled materials – mad, crazy characters of your choosing!

‘Up’ Cycled Accessories

Wednesday 13th August 10am – 4pm £15 One person’s trash is another’s treasure, and this couldn’t be more true with all of the emerging artists tapping into the creation of upcycled accessories.  Make your own original necklaces, bracelets, bags or brooches from throw-aways!

Ship Ahoy!

Friday 22nd August 10am – 4pm,  £15 Create a ship or seaside scene in a bottle, taking inspiration from Bideford’s rich maritime history.

Fat & Flat Fish Wednesday 27th August 10am – 4pm £15. Make colourful 3D paper fish; from sardines to sharks or even a whole shoal, hang your creation from a fishing wire to proudly display at home.

Windsock Whimsies

Friday 29th August 10am – 4pm £15 Create a fun windsock animal, fish or insect that will catch the wind & can fly all the way home with you!

Crafty Kids

Every Monday throughout the summer (except August Bank Holiday) from 10am – 12noon there are simple, fun and effective activities in the Crafty Kids class for under 5’s and their families.

Art Trolley

Out and about in the galleries every day of the school holidays, the Art Trolley is the perfect way to get creative at the Burton.  Free activity for you to enjoy.

Young Friends Art Group

On the last Saturday of every month, local artists run themed arts and crafts workshops. £1 donation per child.

Teresa Turner, Local Artist and on of the Workshop Leaders, said “I am really looking forward to the Summer School.  On Saturday I ran the Young Friends Art Group children’s workshop in conjunction with the Heritage Day taking place in Victoria Park.  The children learnt how to make their own book and then designed images across the book in relation to the heritage of Bideford and the surrounding area.  Children included, amongst many other things, Bideford Bridge, Bideford Pots, Hockings ice-creams, Bideford Bay, ships and dolphins.  I was blown away by the children’s knowledge of the Bideford area and how they confidently visualized that knowledge in the books that they created.  As always, an amazing display of young artist talent.”

Miranda Clarke, Visual Arts Manager at the Burton Art Gallery and Museum said, “We’ve got lots of gorgeous summer arts and craft activities for children at the Burton, and I am looking forward to seeing all the creativity from the children in the area, the next generation of artists!” 

So if the rain is beating against the window and you’ve got cooped-up, bored children on your hands, or if the sunshine has stayed and you need to do something other than a “beach-day,” then booking in a workshop at the Burton might be just the ticket!

To book a place contact The Burton on 01237 471455 or download a booking form from

Venue Contact Details:
THE BURTON ART GALLERY & MUSEUM, Kingsley Road, Bideford EX39 2QQ
(e)   (t) 01237 471455 (w)

Opening Hours:

Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm.