This blog is about my trip to Virginia and North Carolina over 6 weeks in September and October 2010 and what happened afterwards. I travelled on a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust travel Fellowship and researched the export of North Devon Pottery and made links with the Community of Manteo, North Carolina, Bideford's sister City.Since this trip I have found my own sherds of North Devon Pottery and so have started my own collection. Some of these have been shared with curators back in America.
What a lovely 2 hours I spent on Saturday - My talk was well received by a packed audience in the upstairs room at Barnstaple Library, so much so more chairs needed to be found from the store room.
This was me in full swing, talking about the sgrafitto design differences between potters in Bideford and Barnstaple and how designs found in sherds at a dig in Bideford's Stella Maris Convent in 1999/2000 have pointed to the origins of finds found at Jamestown's May - Hartwell site being from a pottery in Bideford (thanks to John Allan's research and paper written up for a Devon Archaeology Society Journal). This contains North Devon pot sherds dating to the first half of the 17th century.
Chatting over a cup of tea afterwards, there was a lot of interest and lots of questions as well as very giving people who were sharing knowledge of, as well as enthusiasm about, North Devon Pottery.
Thanks to all who came and to the library staff for organising, publicising and providing refreshments.
I have been invited to give a talk about the export of Bideford Pottery to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Its on October 19th at Barnstaple library at 2pm, do come over if you are interested.
I'll also be bringing some sherds and fragments I have found locally. These are mostly 17th century, sgrafitto and plainware and will be available to share and handle.
This year has been quite a busy one and so much so I have forgotten to update my blog! I have continued to find and collect sherds off the local beach, I will post some more about this as I have some exciting finds including more beautiful sgrafitto pieces.
Sadie at Manor Court during her talk
I have given some talks to Community groups about my experiences in America and my growing sherd collection. Also, significantly, I was invited to be guest speaker at this year's Bideford Town Council's Manor Court event in March - my talk was about the Export of North Devon Pottery and its links to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. In particular I shared the fact that I had found a sherd of pottery here that has exactly the same design as pottery found at Jamestown VA, which perfectly completes the circle and cements the link between the two places, where the pottery went and its trade routes. I was delighted to receive a sgrafitto plate made and decorated by our very own Harry Juniper!
I was excited to learn earlier this year that the North Devon Pottery Festival event is happening in September in Bideford. It is exciting for me as I had discussions with potter Philip Leach upon my return from Virginia and North Carolina following my Churchill Fellowship in 2010. Philip was really inspired by my trip and research and the photos and experiences I shared with him. He wanted to create some sort of event to be able to make some new work in the traditional North Devon style, to celebrate the historical link. The rest, so they say, is history and John Edgeler has done a great job in obtaining an Arts Council Grant and pulling together an important Ceramics Festival for Bideford.