I have just completed a public commission with Newton Abbot Museum. They are restoring and moving too the disused St Leonard’s Church in Newton Abbot town centre.
For the last 6 weeks I have commandeered the church, used it as a temporary studio, to teach 160 people various aspects of glass making. We have been creating small pieces of glass art to incorporate into the fabric of the new building. All the work has been made in response to the museum’s artefacts and image library. We have celebrated a wide selection of the museum collection. From Great Western Railway photo’s to the wooden, carved Tudor Sandford Orleigh Screen.
The site is in desperate need of the love it will soon receive, the restoration of the building begins soon, with National Heritage Lottery funding and once converted it will house the museum and the town council chambers. The building has significant stained glass by well known Victorian
artist Fredrick Drake, who also worked on Exeter Cathedral, various sites in Newton Abbot and St Michael’s in Teignmouth. St Leonard’s is also full of lovely carved details and the old organ pipes. It has been a real privilege to work in the building and be part of its future.
I worked with eight community groups in total. Wolborough Primary School, Coombshead Academy, University of the Third Age, Learn Devon, Newton Abbot Art Group, museum volunteers, council workers and local children. I also held 3 days for the general public. Between all these groups we have made tea cups and cakes for a Madge Mellor inspired mobile for the refreshment area and cast glass tiles to decorate the museum walls. We also made lots of painted, acid etched and photo transfer details inspired by the museum’s fantastic and varied collection; which I will incorporate into two, 3m tall panels to flank the main entrance of the building.
In the run up to the new museum building opening the Community Engagement Officer Kate Green will be running various workshops and interactive experiences to connect Newton Abbot citizens with their local museum. Look out for updates in the local press!