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!
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.
Apologies for the lack of swimming scribbles, I have been devoting time to some swimming paintings instead. Some of these I am hoarding for Bath Art Fair (12th & 13th May, more on that later), a some have been commissions (I know, other people are waiting, for paintings or drawings… I am getting there…).
So, here is one finished commission, this is Ghislaine, in watercolour, with platinum bubbles…
At the bottom you can see the photo I worked from, Ghislaine asked me for more bubbles and sparkly light.
‘Ghislaine’ painting in watercolour with palladium leaf
I think I got most of the important things into the picture:
The water will be cold. Very cold.
Despite this, many happy people will be swimming in it.
They will not be diving in! (see point one)
There are different classes for wetsuit and non-wetsuit, unlike many winter events where all rubber is banned.
There will be cake.
There may be silly hats (a stretch this one, I admit, but it’s not often you see someone in a pool with a bobble hat).
It’s at the lovely friendly community run Portishead Lido
The Portishead Popsicle happens on 16th December.
… and I believe you can still enter the events. The shortest distance is 30 metres, you know you can do it! You can certainly still order a hat till this Sunday (26th November). I will be there too, if anyone would like their hat signed. For more information visit the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1181288338683926/
It’s not often people ask me for artwork they are going to wear for the rest of their lives, so I am delighted to show you this little lady which I designed for Emma Cummings. It was a piece of work which I did last year. The brief was that she liked a line drawing, but also a watercolour-type loose colouring, so I combined the two, refining the line drawing and leaving the colour as a more random effect. Here’s the final effect, which may or may not have more colour added later. Besides, she seems an appropriate colour for an outdoor swimmer this time of year anyway! (even though, as we know well, we actually go bright pink, not blue…)
Sometimes unexpected worlds meet. Before I painted a lot of swimmers, I painted (amongst other things) a lot of ladies in corsets. So when a lovely and courageous lady asked me to design the hats for her team of ‘Strait Ladies’, somehow the image immediately presented itself.
Elizabeth Verth in her own words: “I am proud to be part of Strait Ladies, a team of four women who, sometime between 17th and 28th September, will enter the waters of the Mediterranean at Tarifa, Spain, to swim to Africa. Although we are a team, each of us will be swimming a tandem solo of the full distance of the Gibraltar Strait. Each one of us will swim, as a solo, from Spain to Morocco.”