Earlier this year The Burton at Bideford, Art Gallery & Museum collaborated with Red Earth Developments on a new Men’s Sheds art initiative.

Pyrography sessions ran bi-weekly at the gallery led by practitioner Ned Morgan. They were free to participants from Men’s Sheds & Women’s Institute to take part and were generously funded by Red Earth the developers of Brunswick Wharf.

The sessions ran for the majority of 2022 and were developed to meet Men’s Sheds vision of ‘reducing loneliness and isolation through community-led activities in communal spaces’. The Burton invited participants to feedback on their experience and the value the sessions had to them personally. The resulting feedback highlights the importance of offering free local art sessions to learn new skills, make friends and positively impact wellbeing.

Yvonne and Bonny say ‘It was a pleasure to sit and do activities with like-minded people. I had such a good time on a Thursday afternoon that I didn’t want it to end. Ned’s input friendliness and talent helped everything run smoothly. I learnt many pyrography skills and just as important some people skills as well. Thank you so much Simon, Ned and Liz for making this possible’.

Colin says ‘Thank you so much for the opportunity to learn this new skill, Ned is a great teacher and had everything well organised and I really enjoyed each session that I was able to get to. It also was a wonderful way to get me out of the house and meet other people, something that does not happen very often’.

Andrew says ‘This was something that I had not attempted before, and I think the last time I did any drawing was at School! I was very grateful to the Burton and Red Earth giving me the opportunity to try my hand at this, and I will be continuing with this at home’.

Patrick says ‘I very much enjoyed the new experience which has added a new string to my bow! The opportunity to meet such pleasant company was a joy and I must say that Ned was a most pleasant and patient tutor and I came away with a talent which I will improve over time. As a member of Westward Ho! Mens Shed I have taken the opportunity to incorporate and embellish text and information into bird and animal subjects ie Robin, etc.

Simon Friend from Red Earth says, “It’s a pleasure to have been able to support this initiative and other similar projects with the Burton and I looking forward to further collaborative work promoting arts and wellbeing in the community.”

The Burton looks forward to working together with Red Earth in 2023 to create new arts and wellbeing projects to support our local community. We will also continue to work together on our Women’s First Art Club which is run in collaboration with the Women First project. It’s a partnership between Encompass Southwest, NDADA and Mind who support women who are rough sleeping, sofa surfing, or living in temporary or insecure accommodation. The monthly drop-in art group gives an opportunity to engage in art projects and explore their creative side. These sessions were generously funded by Red Earth for a further 12 months earlier this year.

Red Earth are currently developing the new Brunswick Wharf site on the East-The-Water side of the old Bideford bridge. Five new design studios will be built alongside the apartments, retail units, restaurant and café. The project will also provide a brand new landscaped public square and riverside walk.