13 October, 2010


Connected historically through the first American colony of 1587 (later known as the 'lost colony') under the command of Sir Richard Grenville, Bideford's Lord of the Manor; Bideford (Bidufud) and Manteo (Maneo) are twin towns or sister cities.

The towns were twinned in April 1984 in Bideford and this is a photograph, by Angel Khoury from her historical book Manteo A Roanoke Island Town 1999, showing the American flag flying from the town hall during the ceremony. Like the colony the details of this twinning were lost with a change of administration. In 2008, after an embarrassing prompt in the form of a gift brought to Bideford from Manteo and international press coverage (which did no harm at all to the towns' tourist industries) a delegation left from Bideford to make amends.

Here is the Harry Juniper traditional sgraffito harvest jug brought to Manteo at the time on the lap of Mayor Andy Powell, because it was deemed too fragile to travel in any other way; and the other picture shows the reception area come council chambers at the Town Hall in Manteo where Harry's jug is displayed in a cabinet and two of Graham Hobb's panoramic photographs of Bideford adorn the walls.

I talked with Kermit Skinner, Manteo's town manager, about the importance of art in the town and he agreed with me that it is related to culture and heritage and tourism and so to the whole economy of the town. Manteo is built on it's heritage but also it's art and the same is/could be true of Bideford. It's interesting that gifts exchanged at a twinning ceremony are gifts of an art/craft nature, something handmade or unique reprosenting each town.

No comments:

Post a Comment