GREENCLIFF AND BIDEFORD BLACK.

A trip out to Abbotsham to visit Greencliff and restock up on some Bideford Black pigment. What a marvellous day it turned out to be as the weather was forecast to be rather grey. It was an easy walk down to the Lime Kiln and then down onto the pebbly beach. There were a few picnicking couples enjoying the solitude and breath taking views along the North Devon Coast. I found the black seam and removed some of the dark claylike material, someone had been there before and left a hole in the cliff, this I made good with some rocks and clay to prevent any more erosion or collapse. After washing my hands I walked up and down the beach sketching and taking some pictures for further paintings, I then sat and admired the view in the Spring sunshine!

In search of the elusive Bideford Black Pigment otherwise known as Biddiblack.  Running alongside seams of anthracite across North Devon is a black clay-like material that was mined for 200 years in Bideford for its uses as a strong black pigment. The unique ‘Mineral Black’, or ‘Biddiblack’ as it was known, was commercially produced for applications in the boat building industry, for colouring rubber products, for camouflage on tanks in WWII and was even bought by Max Factor for the production of mascara. The mines were closed in 1968 when the production of cheaper oil-based blacks and the depletion of the seam made the operation financially unviable, but many locals still remember the ‘Paint Mines’ and have tales to tell of using the paint or going into the now defunct mine shafts.  Today it’s revered by artists who love it’s inky black non reflective properties.  It first has to be dried, ground and then mixed with a medium such as PVA or Gum Arabic.  Looking forward to making my own now and seeing what images I can produce.  

Most of the information above was from a very informative website called The story of Bideford Black.  

http://bidefordblack.blogspot.com/p/history.html

Below is the view looking back towards Abbotsham Cliffs and Westward Ho. In the far distance you can just make out Saunton Sands Hotel on the horizon.

Spitfires over Braunton Burrows. Inspired by the work of Alfred G Buckham.

This is my version inspired by Buckham’s work of Spitfires over the US Assault Training Centre concrete landing craft on Braunton Burrows. These concrete structures, were laid during the World War 2 by the Americans when practising for the D Day Landings on Omaha and Utah by 146th Eng, Co C, 1st Platoon.  Al

I’ve been looking recently at the old 1920s aerial photographs by Alfred G. Buckham.  I loved looking at his pictures in old faded books when I was a child and marvelled at their imagination and camera angles, I later understood that they were actually skilful photo-montages.
Alfred was born in London on 6 November 1879. He began his career in photography  in 1905 and joined the RAF as a reconnaissance photographer in 1917. He became the first head of aerial reconnaissance for the Royal Navy, in the First World War and later a captain in the Royal Naval Air Service.
Buckham was involved in 9 crashes, 8 of which saw him relatively unscathed. After the ninth, however, he had to have a tracheotomy and breathed through a small pipe in his neck for the rest of his life. Despite this, he carried on his aerial photography career, often in very perilous conditions. He felt the best shots were made standing up, writing “If one’s right leg is tied to the seat with a scarf or a piece of rope, it is possible to work in perfect security”.

https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/features/crafting-image-photographic-techniques-alfred-g-buckham

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22256418_10159494841790717_3068191309177626857_o copy copyHawker Hurricane over the Linhay on the Marsh!