Swimming Lake Ullswater Exhibition Text

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In 2012 I swam the 7.5-mile length of Lake Ullswater. Starting at Glenridding and ending at Howtown, the swim took 6 hours to complete. This exhibition is a visual account of that experience.


I believe that in order to see and represent a landscape in an original way, you must look from a new perspective. To earn a deeper understanding of the lake, I decided to trace a line through the water, from one end to the other, and by swimming that route, I was able to depict this landscape in a unique way.

In the words of Roger Deakin:

‘I grew convinced that following water, flowing with it, would be a way of getting under the skin of things, of learning something new’.

I developed an abstract visual language of imagery and motifs based on ripples, watermarks, reflections, shorelines, rock formations, fell tops and the repetitive physical act of swimming and breathing. Natural flowing water was used to create the shapes and patterns that structure the artworks, and many of the canvases were also submerged in the lake itself in order to create these effects.

I wanted to produce an aesthetic that would be dictated by the properties of water as a material, as well as offering a representation of the Lake as a landscape. This was also done to strengthen the ties between form and content throughout the exhibition. The artworks were built up in layers that combine colour washes and mono prints, as well as drawn and painted elements.

Whilst walking on its shores, Lake Ullswater was the place that inspired William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ poem.  The Lake has a rich historic connection with the romantic poets and artists, and rests deeply within the cultural psyche of the English countryside.  The aim of this exhibition is to add to this cultural heritage, but in my own way.  I also experienced Lake Ullswater, and this exhibition is an account of that journey, except that where Wordsworth quaintly ‘wandered lonely as a cloud’, I dived into the water and swam.


 Robbie Wild Hudson was raised in the Lake District, in a house with the River Eden running through its garden. He attended Newcastle University and has exhibited in London, Istanbul and Toronto. This year he will show in Berlin, where he currently lives and paints. In August, Robbie and his brothers, Calum and Jack, will attempt to become the first people ever to swim the 90-mile length of the river Eden. They will complete 9 miles a day for 10 consecutive days. This is the inspiration for his next art project.

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