Artist Emma Scattergood is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Association by sketching 50 pictures along the South West Coast Path as she attempts to walk 630-miles over the year, and raise funds for the charity at the same time! We will be following her journey and sharing her work as part of our trailblazing celebrations.
This first blog, written by Emma, explains why she was inspired to take on the project and what she hopes will be some of the outcomes from walking and sketching the South West Coast Path during 2023.
There was a moment, the one when the wind tried to sweep me off the wild Portland cliffs and throw me to the rocks below, that I did question the sanity of my plan. Or, more specifically, why I’d chosen to launch the plan in winter. But I also knew that completing ‘the plan’ would be the most rewarding thing I would do this year, or had done for many years, so I clutched my sketch book tight to my chest and pressed on.
Celebrating the Coast Path in pen and ink
My name is Emma Scattergood and I’m a Dorset-based writer, creative facilitator and artist. At the end of last year, I signed up to celebrate the SWCPA’s 50th anniversary by exploring and capturing my experiences of the Path in 50 sketches. Fifty Pictures for Fifty Years – raindrops and all!
Because I work one day a week for a writing charity, I’m sadly unable to head off on a two-month pilgrimage, much as I’d love to. Instead, I’m having to find creative ways of covering the Path in small chunks over the 12 months. Which – having spent Christmas hunched over a map, diary and numerous train, bus and ferry timetables – feels more of a trial than a continuous walk! The time and logistics involved in going to and fro are mind-blowing – which was another good reason for setting off in January. I’ll need every spare moment I have!
My connections to the Coast Path
Despite the complications, I’m really excited to be working on this project, especially given my deep sense of connection to the SWCP. My father grew up in Penzance with a view of St Michael’s Mount. It was from there that he left to fight in WW2, and the army chest that carried his belongings, with his Penzance address etched on the top, is our coffee table at home. After the war, Dad worked in Dollis Hill, London, but the sea was in his blood and, when he met my mother, he persuaded her to come with him back to the southwest. And so I grew up in Devon, playing on the beaches along the Path.
I also worked briefly in London, as a magazine editor, until the sea lured me back too. I got engaged to my husband at Old Harry on Studland, we married near Poole Harbour and we now live just minutes from Dorset cliffs, for which I’m hugely grateful. I’ve been walking chunks of the SWCP in a non-linear fashion since 1989, and it is definitely my ‘happy place’. I love how one can travel for miles without the need for a map – as long as I follow those acorns, I can’t go far wrong! I love how that allows me to simply walk, breathe the sea air, forget the demands of ‘normal’ life and get back to basics. I love how it allows me to connect with nature and reconnect with myself. When I’m in need of head space, I head to the Path.
Taking the Creative Path
I enjoy creating pen and ink sketches on coastal walks; working quickly to express how the landscape feels in the moment, and letting the weather get involved too. I’ve been rather shy about sharing my work, and only started selling it in 2022, but last Autumn I made the big decision to leave the lecturing job I’d held for over 20 years and make time for my practice. I decided that ‘Exploration’ and ‘Creativity’ would be my ‘words’ for 2023 – not knowing then just how apt they would turn out to be! My loose plans were to mix time in the studio with drawing on the coast, and see where that might take me. I was also thinking about taking creative workshops I offer out in the wild too. The coast path, I hoped, could become a ‘Creative Path’ for myself and others.
And then I heard about the SWCPA’s celebrations, and it felt like serendipity and synchronicity working at their glorious best. I literally got goosebumps and ‘Fifty Pictures for Fifty years’ was born!
It will be quite a challenge, but it allows me to focus on everything I wanted to achieve: walking; drawing; writing and encouraging others to do the same. Plus raising money for two charities close to my heart (the SWCP Association and Dementia UK) along the way. I’m so looking forward to seeing where this journey on the Creative Path takes us all – and simply can’t stop smiling!
Follow Emma’s journey :
If you’d like to donate to the charities Emma is supporting, South West Coast Path Association and Dementia UK, please go to www.JustGiving.com/team/thecreativepathchallenge
Sketch: Towards West Bay