Maunsel Cafe mural - every painting tells a story

Canals offer many different things to different people. To Brian Emmott, local artist and volunteer on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal, it gives him the chance to work outdoors helping the community - and all from his motorised wheelchair.

Brian Emmott at Maunsel Lock cafe Brian Emmott at Maunsel Lock cafe

I turn out every Thursday to join the Towpath Taskforce volunteer group in trimming the towpath hedges and picking up litter. I use a motorised wheelchair, so I clip away at the lower bits and others do the top.

Sometimes I get carried away and stay out well past the end of the task; time slips by as I get so involved. It’s important for my wellbeing to get into the fresh air and be physically working.

I’m also a keen amateur artist and I repainted the mural on the side of the Maunsel Lock café with some help from friends at my art club. I started in April 2016 and it took me a year to do.

One half of the mural gives a flavour of times gone by and is in black and white. It includes a barge carrying hay and bombers flying over pillboxes. The other half is in colour showing people enjoying walking and cycling the canal among other activities.

Maunsel cafe mural before restoration

It was painted 15 years ago, but no one knows who did it. It had faded badly (see pic above) so I offered to repaint it using acrylics. I kept to the original design but brightened the colours and coated it in preservative to keep out the weather.

Now that I’m retired I paint a lot using watercolours. The mural has pushed me into trying acrylics for portrait painting. I also sometimes sketch on the towpath and on my annual holiday when I skipper a narrow boat.

The canal really has had a good impact on my life.

Last date edited: 5 February 2018