I mentioned a few weeks ago that artist Taz Pollard has started work on creating terracotta tiles to adorn the outside of our new extension. This part of our project is funded separately by the Arts Council and was introduced to satisfy a planning condition that the outside of the building should reflect the North Devon artisan tradition and the important, Barnstaple-made, objects we have in the museum collections.
Barnstaple has a long tradition of using different coloured or moulded bricks and tiles to make its buildings attractive. We want our extension to continue this tradition. The old Brannam Pottery in Litchdon Street and the Gliddon and Squire building in Tuly Street are two of our inspirations.
Alexander Lauder was a potter and architect who created many of the decorative terracotta tiles that decorate some of the buildings in the town. He was a very significant man – he taught C.H.Brannam at the School of Art and architect William Lethaby started his career working for him.
100 years ago, Barnstaple workers, especially at Shapland and Petter and Brannam’s Pottery, were right at the forefront of British design and manufacturing. This was especially true between 1889 and 1914 when Arts and Crafts design was as its most popular.
We want the tiles on our extension to draw from their products, which are displayed inside the Museum, and inspire people in the future. The tiles will form a frieze round all four sides of the new extension.
We have held a number of open sessions with local people, students and other artists to create the tile designs that will make up the frieze, and Tax is now starting production, ready for the tiles to be installed once the extension is built. We expect this to happen early next year. In November she will be working with local schoolchildren on more tiles to go wither side of our new shop windows.