How the South West Coast Path inspires Devon artists

PUBLISHED: 10:51 25 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:05 25 June 2020

Clovelly Harbour, North Devon, by Lydia Jane Duncan

Clovelly Harbour, North Devon, by Lydia Jane Duncan


Devon artists inspired by the South West Coast Path are showing their work online as part of a fundraising campaign

The Sea at Welcombe Mouth  (crop) by Hester BerryThe Sea at Welcombe Mouth (crop) by Hester Berry

Poets, painters, potters and other independent artists are sharing their work and creating new original pieces to get behind a campaign which aims to raise much needed funds to support Britain’s longest National Trail.

The Every Mile Matters campaign highlights the coast path’s vital role in supporting people’s health and wellbeing, the local economy and the amazing environment along the coast of the South West.

The idea came out of restrictions in place during the lockdown, which halted any plans for an exhibition. As well as promoting the work of the charity which looks after the coast path, the Inspired by the Coast project promotes independent artists who face uncertain times ahead.

Film artist Merlyn Chesterman, based in Hartland, North Devon, says: “The sea is of daily interest to me, whether I am in it or on it or watching it. To be in it marks the moment, now, between the past and the future. Nothing else matters. I swim most days.

Trawlers on the Brixham Quayside by Keith TunnicliffeTrawlers on the Brixham Quayside by Keith Tunnicliffe

“To be on it is a journey. And when I am looking, it is to try to begin to understand. And then I do what I do, make woodblock prints.”

Increasingly severe storms, like those seen at the start of the year, rising sea levels, coastal erosion and increased footfall are just some of the challenges the charity is facing when it comes to looking after the path. And the costs of doing so, continue to soar. Over the past five years alone, the Trail Partnership has invested an extra £2 million to keep the 630 mile-long Coast Path in good condition, and yet it remains vulnerable.

“My love of the UK coastline has been my inspiration for my art for many years and continues to fuel my imagination for many more works to come,” says Brixham-based artist Keith Tunnicliffe. “Each stroll, walk or ramble changes each and every day for us all, especially an artist, as the weather and the seasons continue to illuminate our skies, seas and landscape. The linocut artwork of Mansands, viewed from Sharkham, despite the many walks and photographs I have was inspired by a photograph in Devon Life. I used a floor covering, rather than my soft lino I usually use, in order to achieve the feel I looked for. I also changed my reduction printing approach for effect and depth of colour. My favourite stretch is from Brixham to Kingswear as it contains many differing aspects of coastal features though the choices remain endless.”

Have you ever searched for fossils on the beaches of East Devon?

In a recent survey of coast path users, one in four people said they felt inspired creatively after walking on the path.

The charity hopes by taking this creative approach to raising awareness about important issues on the Trail, it can reach its ambitious target of the Every Mile Matters campaign to raise £100,000 to help protect it.

As Britain’s longest National Trail, the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path wraps its way around the region creating a natural corridor through outstanding landscapes including grassland, heathland, moorland, woodland, coastal cliffs and saltwater marsh.

More than 70 per cent of the path is within a National Park or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It also encompasses two World Heritage Sites, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Geopark, five RAMSAR sites, seven Special Protection Areas; 13 Marine Conservation Zones; 8 Special Areas of Conservation; and more than 50 Local and National Nature Reserves.

The South West Coast Path Association protects the path, promoting people’s health and wellbeing and help the region’s economy flourish.

“The South West has a strong artistic community and heritage and it’s inspiring working alongside writers, painters and craftspeople to raise awareness of our fantastic coast,” says Julian Gray, Director of the South West Coast Path Association. “Artists can engage people in the environment at an emotional level, helping to inspire and understand the need to protect it for future generations. The lockdown has given us an opportunity to reconnect with nature and we should use this to help steer our path to recovery.” u

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