Artists in Bideford, Barnstaple and Exeter

In winter 2018 we commissioned 3 artist teams to create bold, imaginative, playable artworks in response to 3 of our rare book collections. In collaboration with some of the country’s leading technologists; an author, a historian and a visual artist, the teams dug into the vaults in Bideford, Barnstaple and Exeter libraries to find old stories and to find ways to breathe new life into them.

Launching 3 unique programmes to surround and accompany these amazing new artworks. From music performances, late night library takeovers, new business days and history talks, between winter 2019 and spring 2020 we invited you to come and explore our rare collections and your libraries in brand-new ways.

Tech Tales


Bideford is home to The Chope Collection, a unique collection of books and manuscripts telling the hidden stories and history of North Devon.

In March 2019, artist Clare Petherick and creative technologist Jay Kerry collaborated to create Ferny Combes. This piece brought the old and new worlds of technology together to create an interactive artwork inspired by this rare collection. For ten special days in October 2019, Bideford Library hosted a mini festival to celebrate the Chope Collection. Accompanying the artwork was a series of talks, performances and workshops from some of Bideford’s most loved and creative voices.


We invited historian Oskar Schortz and technologist Marcus Comaschi to spend some time in our local studies collection in Barnstaple. Through a series of community workshops and residencies they developed ‘a meeting point’ – an interactive artwork inspired by and depicting Barnstaple’s historic tome stone - a place for residents to hang note of their paid debts.


Beneath the floor of the vast Exeter Library lies a huge and untapped collection of books, some of which date back to the 1400’s. We invited author Kim Sherwood to spend some time there and see what arose. The resulting work, aptly named ‘unlocking the cage’ sheds a light on the lives of some of the female voices in our collections. These new imagined monologues, which illustrate the struggle and strength in the journey of women having their voices heard, are now being combined with a unique augmented reality experience.

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