There’s an old belief that, whatever you have lost, you’ll find it in the sea. We might be land-creatures but we are drawn to the water, and here in Scarborough we nestle around the sea just like, as the ancient Greeks had it, frogs squatting around a pond – always looking, always searching. So, say the Sea Swimmers, stop looking and get in; because once you’re in the sea, a sensual, spiritual and physical transformation awaits you. Co-organiser Lara Goodband says, ‘We believe swimming transforms your imagination and your body and that Scarborough’s South Bay is an extraordinary place to swim.’
The project began in spring 2011 and runs right through this year. The main intention was to get people to swim in Scarborough and then to get together to drink tea, draw, write, make music and talk about their experience.
It’s already a wild success; more than 750 people have dipped, including 250 schoolchildren. And once their creative juices were stimulated they’ve produced work that will form part of this exhibition. As John Wedgwood Clarke says, ‘This project has encouraged swimmers to explore their artistic interests and artists have been encouraged to find out how swimming might stimulate new work.’
And if you think this might be a dry community art project, then think again. The exhibition includes a stunning set of films, together with sound, poetry, photographs, postcards, diaries, and a specially commissioned wind-break and flag by Sally Greaves-Lord.
The exhibition is due to tour the region during 2012, and the swimming will resume in May through to September. The organisers hope they have started something that will continue for years to come. Taking the first step into the water is the hardest part; maybe a visit to this exhibition can be your ‘toe in the water’, and you’ll feel inspired to join in.
Sea Swim, Woodend Artspace, 6 to 24 February, Free admission