Artists in Lockdown: Sara Dudman RWA

In a special series, we asked artists associated with the RWA about how the COVID-19 lockdown has affected their life and work. The next artist is Sara Dudman…

“Lockdown has been very grounding for me: physically, metaphorically and emotionally. Life has felt stripped-back. I hope the reconnection which so many of us have found with nature in this time endures.”

This picture and top: Sara in the studio working with mudstone paints

As an artist already deeply immersed in nature, living in the Blackdown Hills AONB, I’d considered myself to already know my own locality. Adjusting to isolation has been a process of realignment with the world. I found myself walking and re-walking familiar routes during this period, triggering nuanced natural encounters with my own locality and providing space for slowing down and finding stillness.

“Confined to a restricted geographic area, my curiosity invited me into a deeper engagement with my own habitat, as if becoming reacquainted with an old friend. Foraging for wild garlic and other woodland or hedgerow treasures naturally developed from cooking into paint-making. My locality has become not only the subject of my paintings but the source of my materials too. I am making my own wild paints, extracting pigments from wild flowers such as bluebells, buttercups and dandelions. I am unlearning how to paint! Using unpredictable paints, whose characteristics are volatile and uncertain, yet I know they will fade, change and shift, seems highly appropriate for the days of uncertainty we are living through.

“My paint-making experiments have begun to branch out into creating paints from mud-stones collected on Berrow beach. Working with mud paints is an extraordinary experience. They do not behave in the same way as any other paints I have ever used. It is as though I am having a conversation with the earth, the world, my ancestors, every human who has lived on this planet, whilst I make each mark.

Making mudstone paint
Sara Dudman RWA: ‘Family Group (Adcombe Wood Stones)’.Mudstone paint on paper. 130x90cms (2020)
Sara Dudman RWA: ‘The Lungs of the Planet (the Ocean)’. Mudstone paint over meteorological charts. 45x28cms (2020)

About the artist

Artist statement: ‘I am a ‘SEEKER|SHARER’. From a child collecting buckets of crabs on the shoreline of the Stour Estuary or jam-jars full of sticklebacks caught in local streams, my heart has always been rural and coastal. The natural environment and its myriad of inhabitants with their interwoven relationships has been a constant fascination and the enduring locus of my artistic practice. CONNECTIONS are at the heart of everything I paint, draw or film.

‘The RWA for me, is like a second home and family: a community of artists and art-lovers with a shared purpose to create, present and champion art of high quality which has the potential to enrich, challenge and change lives.  I have enjoyed connecting with other artists to interrogate our function and role within society. As academicians, we have a responsibility to lead the conversation about the importance of the arts in humanity.’



Meet the artist: Sara Dudman RWA


Concept and interview by Laurel Smart


The Friends of the RWA is an independent charity that supports the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol’s first art gallery. 
For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.

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