mud painting workshop; public; Mathilde Braddock  Sara Dudman enguagement; 2021


“A unique mud painting workshop is set to be held on the beach next to Brean Down this week.

The free event on Thursday 26th August will be led by local geologist Mathilde Braddock and painter and art educator Sara Dudman in order to explore how geology can inform art along the Somerset coast.

Members of the public are being invited to join them at 10am, 12pm or 2pm at Brean Down Cafe, next to the National Trust Car Park, to explore painting with muds collected from the coastline.”

From Mathilde’s blog

… in North Somerset.

So inevitably, the beach is fairly muddy. Why are we here? To run an experimental event, using muds from the area to make art and start conversations about our landscape and ecosystems, and the traces we leave behind. What did this time together teach me? 


Sara Dudman and I collaborated on a project called “Mud Painting by the Beach” which we ran at Brean Beach in Somerset. Sara is an established artist and when lockdown put a stop to many of her projects last year, she started exploring materials and pigments closer to home. She started with organic material from flower petals and found the colours to be ephemeral, echoing the uncertainty of the pandemic. Then she turned to the ground itself. Living in Somerset, the coast with its colourful cliffs and vast muddy estuary beckoned.

As she explored with different rocks and muds, Sara found that they all behaved differently and created hugely varied textures and colours. She had some ideas about why this was from her knowledge of paints, pigments and their behaviours, but she wasn’t sure how that related to the original materials themselves, the rocks. Enter the geologist.

With my understanding of the geology of the area, I could tell the story of the rocks: when and where they had formed, why some had hard textures and others were softer. But looking at rocks as art materials and to deciphering why certain muds make good paint and others do not was completely new to me. Looking at my scientific discipline through the eyes of an artist enabled me to explore it afresh and gain new insights. The rigidity of understanding “nature” in a scientifically rigorous way dropped away, and I felt more curious and playful. I forgot about the discipline of field sketches, and played with the colours and textures instead. Merging science with art also brought the coast to life in a new way: the land around me became both a source of inspiration for my artistic imaginings and the art itself, providing me with raw materials and canvas.

Jump to the place marker on the SEAA map here

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