The drawing below is my first experience of it: and what a black it is…it has a soft clay like consistency and can be shaped in the hand. I mixed it into a paste in this drawing. I might be imagining it but it feels weighty as well as looks dense. It varies in character and the exposed seam at Greencliff offered a varying consistency and quality of black. It isn't easy to gather and it requires climbing up and under a cliff structure that is not particularly stable.
The landscape around Abbotsham and Hartland Point is studded with wind-shaped bushes and trees. They often figure in Merlyn Chesterman's elegant and spacious woodcuts and as she was my guide and companion this line of trees visible along the muddy track down to the beach prompted a pause to draw. I probably wouldn't have found the seam without her local knowledge. Her work is often rooted in her immediate environment around Hartland. Do follow her link if you are not familiar with her work.
On this second visit to North Devon I did more research in the town and located the bricked up entrance to a culm (solid anthracite used as fuel) mine shaft in the car park of what used to be the Ship on Launch Inn in Barnstable Street in Bideford. The Inn is now Croft and Co Independent Financial Advisers. (see photos below). The permanent exhibition in the Burton Art Gallery is not yet on display but there is soon to be one.
Culm was extracted commercially along a seam running west/east from Greencliff near Abbotsham, under Bideford to East-the-Water ending east of the River Taw and the 'Paint Seam' is associated with it.