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Festival Yurts on Appledore Quay - image copyright Bruce Cramp  

The History of the Festival



The South West has arguably some of the most dramatic scenery in England. Within this, North Devon can boast rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, wide estuaries and a particularly intense clear estuary light, green countryside, and open moorlands. Perhaps this is one reason why it attracts so many artists.

  Children enjoying one of the workshops - image copyright Roy Riley (www.royriley.co.uk)
image copyright Roy Riley (www.royriley.co.uk)  

Appledore Arts ran the Appledore Arts Festival between 1997 and 2013 and was based in Appledore a small fishing village at the mouth of the Torridge Estuary, 3 miles north of Bideford in North Devon. For several years the arts community of Appledore have sought ways of further promoting their culture and economic value to the village and region. Click here to see Doorknockers.


The annual Appledore Arts Festival ran from 1997 to 2013. During this time we organised Festivals based on a variety of themes including Boatbuilding, Secret Gardens and Ritual Feasts. 2007 was our 10th Anniversary and the theme was ‘Wide River’.

Energia - image copyright Roy Riley (www.royriley.co.uk)  

Each year the Festival grew in content and had an increasing regional and national profile for producing a high quality and innovative arts event. Over the years several hundred artists worked with us on a variety of projects including Residencies, Workshops and Events.


Each year we invited lead artists, who were nationally or internationally known in their field. Artists who have been involved to date include:

  Richard Long and his work on the Glove Factory wall - image copyright
  • Sandy Brown
• Heather Jansch
• David Kemp
• Carol Klein
• Richard Long
• Peter Randall Page
Sandy Brown with her work in The Glove Factory - image copyright Roy Riley (www.royriley.co.uk)  

Each year the Festival also featured highly respected and internationally recognised ceramic artists. These artists included Svend Bayer, Clive Bowen, Mike Dodd, Walter Keeler and John Maltby who all held exhibitions of their work.


Appledore and the surrounding communities are served by two main towns; Barnstaple, which has become established as the main commercial and regional centre, and Bideford.

Bideford and the surrounding area has an unusually strong tradition of artistic practice with many active artists living locally. This valuable human resource has been nurtured and developed, which coincides with the evolution of Bideford as a centre for the Arts.

  image copyright Roy Riley (www.royriley.co.uk)
Giles Pritchard firing his cob oven - image copyright Roy Riley (www.royriley.co.uk)  

Within the area there is a high commitment to the arts. The Beaford Centre is one of the largest and longest established arts centres in England, and has for the last 32 years operated an arts service to towns, villages and small scattered rural communities.


The Plough Arts Centre in Torrington was founded in the mid seventies in response to community needs and provides a venue based centre with a range of performing and visual arts on offer. The Burton Art Gallery in Bideford hosts a range of exhibitions, provides a venue for Artists in Residence, lectures and conferences, and houses a permanent museum. In addition there are other Art Organisations and Groups such as Devon Artsculture and North Devon Artists.

  Mice Fabre Lewin with her Deep Soup Ceremony - image copyright Roy Riley (www.royriley.co.uk)

opyright © 2009 Appledore Arts Festival (except where stated differently on images)

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