Sadie Green's Story

Author: Sadie Green
Sadie Green's Story

Sadie travelled to the USA in 2010, to reignite the historic relationship between Bideford in North Devon, and its new twin town, Manteo in North Carolina, through the arts. She researched North Devon’s pottery trade with the colonies of the Eastern Seaboard in the 17th and 18th centuries, and visited organisations, artists and archaeologists.

The Fellowship

Sadie, an arts project manager, worked for an organisation set up to research and promote Bideford’s last 500 years. She became increasingly interested in Bideford’s pottery heritage and was fascinated by the link between export of pottery to the British colonies on the Eastern seaboard of America, and the import of goods to Bideford. She wanted to see the evidence of this trade activity.

Bideford was declared a twin town with Manteo on Roanoke Island, North Carolina in 2008. The two towns share history with pioneers sailing out of Bideford in 1587 to set up the first British colony.

Sadie met pottery curators and viewed collections in Virginia and North Carolina. She was able to hold pieces of 17th and 18th century pots that were shipped out of Bideford to service the ever-increasing numbers of British settlers. She also met with members of the arts and local community in Manteo NC, igniting a special relationship between the towns.

The Results

On returning home, Sadie continued to research the export of pottery. Inspired by the collections in Virginia, Sadie visited Bideford’s beaches and estuary to find North Devon Pottery sherds and start a collection. She found many plain earthenware and decorative sgraffito pieces dating back to the 1600 and 1700s, and has subsequently shared her finds with eminent collectors and curators in North Devon and the US.

Sadie is working with the North Devon and Barnstaple Museum, contributing to their North Devon Pottery strategy, and has proposed a series of projects and events to celebrate and promote the pottery’s rich heritage. Sadie regularly speaks to community groups in North Devon, and has shared her findings with local potters, who have been inspired to develop their practice.

Sadie keeps in regular contact with Dare County Arts Council and the Community of Manteo, with another return trip planned for 2016. She has set up an Arts and Cultural Exchange Programme between Manteo, NC and Bideford, to enable artists to travel from their town to the other, bringing their work, and creating new work.The first exchange was a postcard exchange in 2011 – a simultaneous exhibition of hand-made postcard size artworks in both towns featuring work by artists from Bideford and Manteo.

Sadie then initiated and managed a multimedia group exhibition by Bideford area artists and musicians. It was shown at Dare County Arts Council Gallery in downtown Manteo in September 2013. The exhibition was extremely well-received and has inspired a reciprocal group show to be exhibited in Bideford in the future. The third stage will be to offer opportunities for artists to undertake residencies in their twin town, to create new work and offer a cultural exchange between the two communities, developing their special relationship.