HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall delighted staff and Bideford residents – including school children and a variety of community groups – when they visited The Burton at Bideford Art Gallery and Museum in celebration of the gallery’s 70th anniversary. Taking place only two days after the lifting of Covid restrictions, the visit brought an air of celebration to the whole town, and gave a boost to the arts, after a difficult year.

The visit began with a tour of an exhibition of archive photographs by local artist-photographer, James Ravilious. The photographs document agricultural life in North Devon from bygone days and the collection as a whole represents the best of Ravilious’ work. Welcomed to The Burton by the Gallery’s Director, Ian Danby, and Director of the Beaford Archives, Mark Wallace, Their Royal Highnesses also met with Robin Ravilious, the widow of James Ravilious.

Their Royal Highnesses then attended a gathering of the town’s community groups and young people in nearby Victoria Park. The community groups included a volunteer gardening group and a school craft club as well as a group of local print-makers and musicians.

Before departing, a commemorative plaque to mark the 70th anniversary of the gallery was unveiled. Commissioned from the artist, Lucy McLauchlan, the plaque pays homage to the gallery’s commitment to championing environmental causes.

The Burton at Bideford is a purpose-built art gallery and museum. Established in 1951 by businessman, Thomas Burton, and artist Hubert Coop, the gallery opened to commemorate the death of Thomas Burton’s daughter – an artist in her own right. The plaque was unveiled on an easel once belonging to Hubert Coop.

Free to enter, The Burton aims to make the arts accessible to all. It runs a diverse programme of educational events that take place both on and off-site. The dedicated team of staff and volunteers work not only with children but with many disadvantaged groups who might not otherwise have access to the arts. The Burton aims to inspire creativity.

As well as the Ravilious exhibition, Their Royal Highnesses also visited Face Value: portraits from the Arts Council Collection featuring work by some of the country’s most celebrated artists from recent times including David Hockney, Barbara Hepworth, Lucian Freud and L.S. Lowry. The Arts Council celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, coinciding with The Burton’s own anniversary celebrations. Face Value will be on display at the Gallery until 26th September.

An English Eye, the collection of archive photographs by James Ravilious, will be on display from 6th October until 30th December 2021.

Torridge District Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin – Lead Member for Community, Culture and Leisure said:

“It’s fantastic that the Burton at Bideford has been honoured by a Royal visit this week, which I’m sure will resonate with everyone involved for many years to come. The museum and art gallery is such an important part of the cultural offering in the area and is home to many unique and noteworthy pieces of art and historic artefacts. Torridge District Council provide some of the funding; however it is the staff, volunteers and organising groups who deserve the credit for the transformation of The Burton in recent years, and for the fascinating programme of events they regularly organise. With the approaching busy summer season we very much hope that tourists and locals alike will enjoy discovering all of the hidden treasures, history and art which are all on offer for free at The Burton.”