A MULTI-AWARD winning artist whose work is shown around the globe has teamed up with Newton Abbot Museum and residents to produce a series of drawings inspired by life in the town, past and present.
London-based Christy Burdock MA is a social commentator frustrated by what she believes is the tendency of powerful London-centric institutions to overlook the value of everyday life elsewhere in the country, Christy meets regularly with senior politicians and journalists with their conversations informing her work.
She is also keen on heritage and exploring the links between a community’s history and the present day.
Christy approached Newton Abbot Museum in January and has since spent time with Curator Dr Charlotte Dixon, Curatorial Assistant Katie Petley-Jones, volunteers and Community Outreach Worker Kate Green.
Together they explored the collections and visited several locations in the town, talking with residents and those out shopping or at work.
Christy’s pieces in the Picturing the Past collection feature local landmarks and events such as the Second World War bombing by the Luftwaffe and resettlement of Polish refugees.
Prehistory in the form of the Iron Age Milber Votive animal figures on loan from Torquay Museum puts in an appearance as does the arrival of the railways, the fondly remembered Madge Mellor’s tearoom and an 800-year-old tradition of market trading.
All are seen against the backdrop of modern Newton Abbot going about its business.
Christy said: ‘I shine a dim and gentle light into the ordinary corners of British life. Ordinary people are extraordinary.’
Her impressions of Newton Abbot were favourable and resulted in seven drawings, all of which will be displayed in the museum which is located in Newton’s Place, Wolborough Street.
‘Newton Abbot for me was an ordinarily beautiful quintessentially English town,’ she said.
‘It had a relaxed feel to it and a community high in trust and contentment, steeped in history and heritage.
‘The lady who helped run the bus service, cigarette in hand, smart in her uniform, that made an impression on me due to her happy nature.
‘Then there was the pastor who looked after the pastoral needs of the farmers in the livestock market, he was diligent, kind and thoughtful.’
Christy said: ‘Newton Abbot has given birth to a lot of entrepreneurialism, innovation and invention.
‘From handmade Iron Age birds and animals, to animal wood carvings, to diving machines, people across time had used their intellect and creativity to innovate with their minds, their hands and with materials.
‘The all important train, journeys down the picture plane, linking creativity and making through the centuries. Newtonians’ ancestors communicating to them through time and place, life improved and enhanced through the labours of men and women.’
Curator Dr Charlotte Dixon said: ‘What an absolute honour it is to have this project arrive at our door and to take shape so quickly.
‘Christy only approached us in January and then was soon visiting Newton Abbot, completely embedding herself in the museum and researching her subjects both here and in the town.
‘Where these pieces will end up who knows, perhaps some will be bought locally, others I’m sure will soon be in national collections, perhaps even international.
‘The story of Newton Abbot and its place in the world moves on it seems, just as it always has, just as it always will.’
=The works are due to be displayed in the museum, next to the objects that feature in them, free of charge Tuesday to Friday 9.30am-4.30pm and Saturday 9.30am-1.30pm from April 9 until September 3, subject to special events.
The works will be on sale.