Vanessa Daws


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“This was water straight from the mountain that sends your blood surging and crams every capillary with a belt of adrenalin, despatching endorphins to seep into the seats of pleasure in body and brain, so that your soul goes soaring, and never quite settles all day.”
ʻWaterlogʼ Roger Deakin 1999

I have always swam, not competitively, or for particularly long distances; but when passing a body of water, be it pond, fountain, lake, river or sea, I do find it hard not to resist the urge to take a quick swim.

My research investigates where this drive to swim, to immerse oneself in water comes from. Is this urge spiritual, escapism or social? Is it the sheer thrill of the unknown, to feel the water on our skin, the cold on our head, adapt our breathing and to feel we exist?

Through the swimmers I meet and the shared experience of water my work explores ways in which we accept as normal our pursuits and chosen rituals, but also how through acclimatisation and adaption we can surprise ourselves and go beyond our expectations.

I conduct my art practice from a swimmer’s perspective, my camera is worn on my head as I swim.

Swimming has always been integral to my art practice, now the two cannot be separated. I am constantly on the lookout for the ultimate swim spot, and I am continually exploring ways to take the viewer out of the gallery and into the water.

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  1. prouvost and sons