Sara Dudman RWA British, b. 1964

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 works presented here are responses to trips to the Helford River and the north Cornish coast in February 2020 – just before the coronavirus pandemic shook Europe. I have been visiting and re-visiting the Hayle RSPB reserve for a number of years, always excitedly anticipating which of the seasonal migratory birds might be feeding, or just taking a break on the low-tide mudflats and beaches during my visits. I am transfixed by the relationship between the birds and the expansive shores and the wet beaches. These characteristic, animated scenes are simultaneously a universal coastal experience, yet deeply rooted in a specific environment. Spending time alongside the Helford River felt like breathing space. A place to pause. It’s tranquillity and the gently rippling surface of the wide river with its inlets becomes a safe haven for so many wildlife species.


During my visits I spend time walking, drawing, videoing, note-taking and documenting experiences, sensations and observations. Walking stretches of the South West Coastal Footpath afford fabulous opportunities to breathe in, absorb and internalise the sights, sounds, movements and connections between myself, the birds, the rocks, cliffs and the sea. The works seek to balance the seemingly fragile and chaotic motion and transience of the birds against the expansiveness of the sea, shoreline and sky.


The paintings are created in layers, alternately recording and expressing both the substance and at times elusive essence of all aspects of the painting, identifying the relationship between them. Broad swathes of light and colour characterise and counterpoint the linear qualities in many of the works.  


‘Using the personal and interpretive possibilities of drawing and painting, yet derived from the immediacy and documentation of video, these works combine analysis and emotion.’


Born in 1964, Sara graduated with a BA (hons) in Fine Art from Loughborough College of Art and Design (1987), followed by a MA from De Montfort University, Leicester (1997). Sara has been shown in many solo, joint and group exhibitions widely in the Southwest, London, New York and Hamburg, including the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, The Jerwood Drawing Prize, BEEP2018 Contemporary Painting Prize, and The Society of Wildlife Artists’ exhibition, ‘The Natural Eye’. Sara has received several awards and prizes including in collaboration with fellow artist Debbie Locke RWA: Millfield Summer Show 2013 (prize-winner); John Singer Sargent Open, 2014 (Main Prize-winner); Thelma Hulbert Open, 2014 (First Prize-Winner). Sara has received grants from Arts Council England to develop and share her practice. Since 1997 Sara has worked in Arts education as a lecturer, artist in residence, curator and advisor.


Sara is a Royal West of England Academician. She is also a member of the National Society for Education in Art and Design.


Sara lives and works in Somerset and has been regularly exhibiting in Cornwall at the Porthminster Gallery for four years.