Barnstaple’s long association with pottery did not end when Brannam’s shut down. Ceramics are still made, both by enthusiastic amateurs and professional artists. Potter Taz Pollard’s tiles that decorate much of the exterior of the 2019 museum extension are fine proof of this.
The tiles around the top of the building were inspired by Barnstaple’s long association with the Arts and Crafts movement, which flourished in Britain from the 1870s all the way up to the 1920s. The floral motifs are drawn both from North Devon Art Pottery made by C.H. Brannam and William Baron, and also from the fine inlaid furniture produced in the Shapland and Petter factory just across the river. Barnstaple was known in this period for its manufacture of moulded bricks and tiles that could be used to decorate a building, as can be seen on the old Brannam Pottery in Litchdon Street and the Gliddon & Squire building in Tuly Street.
The panels each side of the shop entrance were also made by Taz. The strapwork pattern is based on the intricate plaster ceilings made by the Abbott family of Frithelstock in the 17th century. The individual elements are based on the town’s history and buildings, the museum collections, and designs produced by local schoolchildren.
Funded by Arts Council England, these tiles not only continue the craftsmanship that is historically associated with Barnstaple, but also embody the Barnstaple community as it exists today. Local artists, students and other volunteers all pitched in to help Taz make the tiles.