30 September, 2010

First Contact

This trip has been so long in the dreaming, imagining, planning and organising that a reception for Sadie and I on Tuesday 28th September 2010 was a little daunting. We had blogged, emailed and even phoned people in Manteo prior to the visit, but nothing beats face to face contact. Sharon Enoch, restaurateur and potter at the Full-Moon café/gallery had offered to organise the reception some time ago, originally at her own premises, but the venue changed to the new 'Dare County Arts' gallery and offices in the old courthouse across the road from Full-Moon. Sharon laid on a wonderful seafood based buffet, wine and local beer; enough to attract a good number of local artists, crafts-people, arts administers and culturally interested locals to attend. I was so busy chatting between 6pm & 8.30pm that I didn't get to sample any of the food but luckily there was a doggy bag to take 'home' afterwards.

Sadie gave a short speech:

  • thanks to Sharon for organising, Laura Martier and Dare County Arts Council for hosting, Carl Curnutte for various finding us accommodation and for Fort Raleigh NP for providing it.

  • Churchill travel fellowship proposal and what Sadie is doing, where we have been already

  • Pottery / arts connection

  • Bideford / Manteo shared history

  • Bideford 500 – who we are and our plans

  • Heritage Day 2011 plans – Elizabethan theme, joint activity with Manteo, live web link?

  • Artists exchange programme – what we'd like to set up between Bideford and Manteo

and I followed talking about:

There was a very optimistic air to the reception, a good positive reaction to Sadie's and my suggestions.

The biggest regret is that I didn't get a photograph of the reception but hopefully in future posts here and at http://www.sadie-green.blogspot.com/ you'll get to meet the people, hear what they have to say and see some of our proposals coming into fruition.

Getting to Manteo

We've been in Manteo for 2 days now, and it hasn't stopped raining yet!

The rain started earlier in Wilson NC, we'd checked in early at a Jameson Inn with a coupon and were driving downtown towards our destination Golden Corral 'all you can eat buffet' (excellent food from Raleigh based national company), when the first rain for 6 weeks came. We had earlier read about the drought that the Eastern States were experiencing; record breaking high temperatures and the risk of Alabama's peanut crop being ruined. There had been early warnings on the TV and we'd heard rumblings of thunder, but nothing could have prepared us for the ferocity of the downpour. I managed to park less than 30 feet from the entrance yet still everything but our waterproof jackets were soaked.

Great weather for frogs, they were all out over the roads when we got back to the motel. Deep fried frogs legs is one of the many Southern delicacies on offer at the Golden Corral.

The journey to Manteo on the old Albemarle Highway 264 was a slow one with rain sometimes so torrential that I had to find somewhere to pull over, windscreen wipers just couldn't cope with the deluge.

Leaving mainland USA for Roanoke Island on the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge which must be at least 5 miles long is a sight to savour even on a dull, rainy day. The low, long, straight bridge suddenly peaks in the middle, to allow ships to pass underneath, and it's at this point that you realise where you are.

Our home, where we'll be based for 4 weeks, is a detached wooden 3 bed cabin, all on one level. It's at the North End of the Island in Fort Raleigh Historic National Park, surrounded on 3 sides with thick forest, the other having some Nat Parks service buildings. This lovely gift of fruit was left for us from our 'friends at the Lost Colony'. It's very quiet hear in the evenings except for the continuous drone of insects and the rain, of course!

Speaking of which, it's just stopped so here's a picture of the outside of the accommodation. I'll show you the inside when the sun comes out. Thanks to the Park's Service for such a good rate on this and to Carl Curnutte for getting us the deal.

25 September, 2010


We've just visited North Carolina's State capital, Raleigh. We all know who Raleigh is but did you know that the name in Olde English meant oak forest? That's what this city was before it came into being. The oak motif adorns the city in various public art often using stainless steel.

I went in search of art while Sadie took care of her official business. One encouraging place was Art Space, originally a livery, then Ford car dealership; it's now a large artists' studios, exhibition space and workshop/education facility - just the kind of place we were/are hoping for in Bideford.
With a little help from the State and City and lots of patronage from annual sponsors Art Space survives and flourishes. There were no empty studios, in fact there's a waiting list. Artists pay a rent for their studio to the not-for-profit 'art-space' organisation, but the individual artists can make a profit personally. Part of the deal is that they have to use their studio for a certain amount of time and that they must allow the public into their studios to see what they're doing, answer questions etc. It's based on a similar art space at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria near Washington DC.

Another place was the Visual Art Exchange, similar to art space but without the studios or teaching areas; a co-operative gallery, getting help from sponsors, showing quality and graduate work.
There is a really good, free, arts magazine in Raleigh, or the Tri-city region with Durham and Winston-Salem. artsee premièred this year with it's July/August edition. You don't often see a new magazine coming out in a recession especially a free one.

22 September, 2010

From the UK to NC

Sadie Green is on her 'Sir Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship' trip to North Carolina and Virginia to see where North Devon's 17th and 18th century pottery was exported to and to make contact with the people and arts community in Manteo on Roanoke Island NC. I her husband Dave am accompanying her on the trip and representing Bideford Bay Creatives (BBC). I go partially supported by a Networking Artists Network (NAN) Go-and-See bursary. My role is to extend the hand of friendship from our local artists in Bideford to those across the water in our 'sister city' Manteo. I'm hoping to find ways of solidifying the twinning process by building real relationships through the artistic community in both towns. I'm also a photographer and will spend some of my time exploring and documenting the similarities and differences between Manteo and Bideford.

The closest international airport to Manteo is Norfolk Virginia, a 2 hour drive away. We decided to fly to Richmond VA instead, a 4 hour drive but close to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachian Trail (AT). The AT runs the length of Virginia and the western edge of North Carolina and much more, it's over 2000 miles long. We just hiked about 12 miles of it, staying in a cabin 2 miles from the trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of Americas most 'scenic' drives. I now understand the lyrics '...on the trail of the lonesome pine' - there aren’t any pine trees, or very few; it's all deciduous trees here and starting to change colour in the early 'fall'. Blue Ridge Mountains - I was expecting hard grey slate pinnacles, but instead of this there are trees, you see the blue as the sun sets, all of the shaded areas are blue. (the picture, one of Sadie's is of some locals making pastel pictures of the sunset) Trees, lots and lots of them will be a lasting memory of VA. We drove for 4 miles from the 4000 ft peaks to America's first 'permanent' settlement at Jamestowne, down tree lines roads for almost the whole journey; and by tree lined I mean driving through deep forest.

You can read all about the pottery in Jamestowne in Sadie's blog: sadie-green.blogspot.com
Left are some full-sized replica ships in Jamestowne.
We've now arrived in NC's state capital Raleigh, a 3 hour drive from Jamestowne once we'd crossed the James river on a free 15 minute ferry ride. We could have avoided the ferry, knocked 1/2 hour of our journey and taken the free-way but our route took us through a quiet, rural part of the 2 states full of romantic colonial houses, often partially in ruins.