Barnstaple Museum Visit
In April, Edward Wild, Hester Berry and Edward Crumpton had the chance to visit the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon to look at a collection of the museum’s archival artefacts. Each artefact demonstrated the skills of gilding, tile making or copper smithing. The museum has a large collection of items and a selection was picked by the artists, with the aim of creating a deeper connection to the crafts and a North Devon historical understanding. The artefacts were presented by Sam, the Museum Collections & Access Manager. She was able to give the history of each piece and also how they came to be in their collection.
Here are the thoughts of each artist after visiting the Museum.
Edward Wild commented; “Visiting Barnstaple Museum was very interesting in a number of ways. Firstly, being together with the other Artists after so much time, due to Covid restrictions, really brought home to me how interaction with other makers is so important to my creative process. Finding out how everyone’s projects were going was fascinating and also exciting, as we were all in the early stages and so much would grow from these.
The real high point of the visit was to see the museum artefacts. At first, it seemed there were not many gilded objects, beyond picture frames, until someone mentioned the phoenix. This very large gilded phoenix had originally adorned a rooftop, and now sat hidden in the museum. Getting up close to see the size of the piece, the detail and intricacy of the gilding but also the wear on the piece set in motion throughs and ideas for the pieces I would be working on.”
Hester Berry commented; “I enjoyed seeing the artefacts from the archives all laid out. I loved the medieval tiles, but I felt a real connection to the more modern Brannam relief tiles. The fish design felt familiar, perhaps as a motif from the Taw and from street decoration around Barnstaple. The colours on these fish design tiles, as well as the bird and Jacobean floral designs, are what really grabbed me, and gave me food for thought. I loved the turquoise glazes against the terracotta and neutral colours, as well as the stylized play on natural forms.
Back in my studio, I had a play with these colours and designs within my comfortable and familiar practice of oil paint applied with a wide chisel brush, exploring the tiles in my own language.”
Edward Crumpton commented; “It was humbling to see the furniture of Shapland and Petter, which often included copper. The beautiful copper work on the stunning furniture allowed me to grasp the intricacies and diversity of this material. It can be used in decoration as well as to cover large areas of buildings in architectural design. The Museum, itself, has large areas of copper adorning its outside walls. I have looked a lot at how rope can be used in architecture, so this is another interesting link to my own practice. There is also longevity to the material that really interests me, but it is always changing, especially if subject to the elements.
One of the Museum staff mentioned using pitch tar as a surface to hammer on as it has the benefits of being soft enough to shape the copper.
There was also a very old sign, which was laid out along the learning room tables, this was fascinating to look at and reflect upon how it may have been made and also the conditions which had led to its ageing process. I am looking forward to a selection of artefacts being shown alongside our new works in the IN A NEW LIGHT exhibition which is open from October-February in The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon. IN A NEW LIGHT EXHIBITION”