Well it’s not often you find someone nips into your local swimming spot and cements your artwork to the sea wall!
Three pictures I created for the Clevedon Marine Lake in the summer of 2016, lovely to finally see them on the wall. I haven’t actually had a chance to go and see them in real life yet and get photos in a bit of decent sunshine, so here are also the original designs so you can see them in their full detail.
Swimmer tiles being installed on the disused pumphouse – or whatever this thing is next to where we get in..?
The Clevedon Swimmers tiles installed
Boating at Clevedon design
Crabbing at Clevedon design
If you are interested in how these came to be, the original bid for lottery funding to restore the lake mentioned installing artwork, as part of the improvement of the lake, but it was no more specific than that I think. By the time Jo Tasker was lake warden I had started drawing a lot of the goings-on of swimmers at Clevedon, and other places where I went swimming and Jo asked very nicely would I like to create a picture that could go on the sea wall. My first idea was there should be 4 pictures, one for each season, but then it turned into 3 pictures, one for each activity. It made more sense, or there would just be swimmers in each picture!
And so finally they are up, all of a sudden! Swimmers, boaters and crabbers. Especially pleased that they had the good sense to put the swimmers picture next to where we swimmers change as that’s my favourite. I had to invent people for the other two panels, but the swimmers: I know all these people, they are real!
So pretty much the only clear thing is that I don’t get number 3 printed!
There was voting on this blog and on ‘Did You Swim Today’ on Facebook, with different results. I think maybe two hats are called for but – while trying not to invite design by committee – I may work on them a little more. One of the popular things about number 5 was scales and I had always intended to add scales to all of them. The hair was also mentioned as a feature on number 5… not so sure about losing the hats and goggles – it’s a bit of a major change to the feeling of the other designs, and if I remove hats, then the swimming costume tops probably would have to go too. I’ll get back to you….
Ok, so several times when I’ve had swimming hats printed people have asked me for mermaids. But what sort of mermaids? People seldom ask me for artwork if they want the standard version of anything… can’t think why this is. So I have tried a few drawings of mermaids that are mostly not like the fairytale variety, and then I thought I’d ask you what you thought of them.
Please vote! …especially if you actually want mermaids on swimming hats! You can vote for more than one design, but please cast your vote just once unless you plan on buying two dozen hats.
…and if you’d like me to email you with an update on when the hats will be ready, just add yourself to my email list (you can unsubscribe any time).
All things are relative. While the prospect of an Autumnal temperature plummet to seven degrees may cause us to shudder at the very thought, reaching in vain after warm memories of summery 18 degrees and above; here at the back end of Winter and in the wake of winds from Siberia, 7 degrees is greeted with excitement and delight!
“It’s lovely now it’s warmed up” is not mere winter swimmer’s bravado, it is heartfelt. 10 days ago the shallow salt water dipped below zero. True, we still have that glazed look of the mildly hypothermic as we hug our hot drinks. True it is drizzling, and an icy wind is promised for the weekend. But all things are relative, and these things are mere blips in the unstoppable onrush of spring.
On Friday it was Mary’s Birthday. There being an icy blast coming straight from Siberia, and the water 3.5 degrees and dropping, she dressed appropriately for the occasion of a birthday swim. A bikini with tassels, of course!
The Birthday Suit
To those unfamiliar with the place, this is of course Clevedon Marine Lake. The water isn’t often this green, it’s generally muddier, but on this occasion it was even clear enough for underwater photos.
I usually swim with Lucy at Clevedon Marine Lake. A fantastic and free facility but the lake is topped up by the muddy brackish waters of the Bristol Channel on the highest of tides, and if you can see as far as your feet through the water it is a remarkable and rare event.
Lucy asked me to paint a painting of her swimming, so we went off to Vobster with my camera, and I took lots of snaps and this painting is the result. We were just about lucky with the weather – the sun deigned to shine between the November clouds for a few minutes, but the water is lovely and clear anyway, so it’s always good for photos.
This is painted in watercolour with fragments of aluminium leaf for the bubbles.
“Many years ago, a very wise young man, Owen O’Keefe, a.k.a. Fermoy Fish, said to me, always remember if you’re the first to do a swim, nobody can ever take that from you, no matter how long it takes you to do it” Maeve Mulcahy
Some time last Autumn I was honoured that Maeve asked me to draw a picture commemorating her achievement, the first woman to swim Fastnet to Baltimore, a 10h 45m marathon completed on 1st September 2017. Her friends: fellow swimmers and crew, Anne and Eoin were important characters in the drawing, and although the water looks calm, and I gather it was for much of the time, the account which you can read here is of a long hard swim.
So this is Maeve, her crew, the Fastnet Rock and lighthouse in the background, and their Myrtle Turtle flag flying from Radiance.
There’s also a short video of the swim here.