I am presently working with The Burton Art Gallery & Museum in Bideford, North Devon, to uncover, gather and present fresh stories and artefacts about the locally significant and historic earth pigment BIDEFORD BLACK through interviews with specialists on the subject and a series of events and workshops. It has been funded by a the Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories grant and by a generous donation from The Friends of the Burton Gallery. Ultimately it will  provide a new permanent interactive display and online archive for the Museum to preserve memories of the industry for future generations.

BIDEFORD BLACK – we want your stories (Images courtesy P Ward and Ackland and Edwards Archive) Images P Ward and courtesy the Ackland and Edwards Archive)

The project is divided into two parts – firstly a period of research, including special events, press releases and interviews, to gather and collate information, memories, images and artefacts from local residents, specialists and archives. These stories will then be brought together and shared with local school children to produce illustrations using BIDEFORD BLACK itself for the final display and online archive, as well as a specially produced Teachers Pack and exhibition to celebrate the unveiling of the new display in October 2013.

As a painter I was asked in 2008 to research local earth pigments in North Devon for the Appledore Arts Festival and The Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon. The subject has since provided a powerful and important basis for my ongoing environmental arts practice and provides a pertinent and evolving means through which art may holistically engage people with the nature of a specific or local ecology and hence our relationships within it.

To find out more about this project please visit

P Ward 2013


5 Comments on “The Story of BIDEFORD BLACK”

  1. dianajhale says:

    Fascinating project. I used to visit Bideford a lot and have never heard of this. I am interested in earth pigments, for painting.

    • pw130524 says:

      thanks diana. i have been using earth pigments for quite a while now and they have completely changed the way i paint and work, not only through the colours but through the nature and process of gathering the pigments and making my own paints. i’m sure there’s some soils where you are that you can use 🙂

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