This project has been developed by The Burton Art Gallery & Museum, with thanks to Torridge District Council and The Friends of The Burton

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Bideford Black - the Next Generation. Not the first, and not the last, to use this medium

Claire Gulliver and I (Carolyn Black of Flow Contemporary Arts) have been appointed by the Burton to take the Bideford Black project onto another stage. The Next Generation - is not the first project that the Burton has initiated relating to artists using Bideford Black. It is a development from the work done by many local artists, including Peter Ward on this blog, and in his studio too. It's inspirational to see and meet so many artists who have worked with BB as a medium. The exhibition at White Moose in Barnstaple showed some of them in 2013.

Thanks to ACE funding and support from the Friends of the Burton, Claire and I are managing the new commissions on behalf of the art gallery, working closely with Warren Collum. 8 artists and 1 film maker will be selected to stretch this pigment to its limits. Coming from an industrial background, the pigment played a part in the economic foundation of Bideford. We're excited by the possibility that artists can explore new ways of using it. Beauty, fragility, density, darkness, earthiness and stickiness are just some of the qualities it possesses.

As a natural pigment, it has some very specific qualities. It holds social history in its tacky texture; crumbling memories of ancient geology; grains of physical hardship in its mining; but it can also be part of an unknown future. Since it was first used in industrial paint and mascara, the world has developed unbelievably fast. Technology is everywhere, new materials and compounds are being discovered, some of which may (or may not) be combined with the pigment in some way. We need to understand more thoroughly the nature of the material and hope to be able to share a material analysis in due course.

In the meantime, we encourage artists to think beyond the page or the pedestal, challenge the preconceptions we have about what pigment can be used for.

Download the brief here and share your ideas with us. Don't be afraid to suggest something unusual or challenging, the criteria for selection are stated in the brief - beyond them anything may be possible.

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