Water as Form and Content

With my ‘Swimming Lake Ullswater’ artworks, I wanted to find unique ways to tie form and content together throughout the entire series. Each artwork is an attempt to find a way to represent the experience of swimming through the landscape. Because of this, I felt that the aesthetic of the artworks should be dictated by the properties of water as a material; by the way it moves, flows, rests and ripples.

Each artwork was built up with successive washes of coloured water, applied as it was laid on the ground. The water flowed into natural shapes on huge 20m2 sheets of canvas. I bunched the canvases to create circles and channels for the water to travel through before it soaked into the material and deposited its colours.

Applying layers of coloured washes to build up natural forms, patterns and textures.

Applying layers of coloured washes to build up natural forms, patterns and textures.

I then created compositions by cropping sections into the sizes and dimensions of the artworks that you see before you. Many of the canvases were also submerged in Lake Ullswater itself, and their final aesthetic is a direct consequence of the ebb and flow of its waters.

I bunched and stained this canvas into several concentric circles. This was to mirror the shapes of ripples on the surface of an expanse of water.

I bunched and stained this canvas into several concentric circles. This was to mirror the shapes of ripples on the surface of an expanse of water.

For me this was a method that allowed room for chance and surprise. I attempted to work with water, but often, I would return in the morning to the studio after leaving a canvas drying overnight, and find completely new patterns, forms and textures had been embedded within the canvas. ‘Lake Swim Painting ~ Hallin Fell’ is a strong example of the organic shapes that the water left as it soaked into the fabric of the canvas. I picked out these forms in white to accentuate them, and to bring attention to the way that the movement of the water has created a starting structure for the artwork.

'Lake Swim Painting ~ Hallin Fell'. You can see here how the shapes of the water that soaked into the canvas have been used as the structural forms for the finished painting.

‘Lake Swim Painting ~ Hallin Fell’. You can see here how the shapes of the water that soaked into the canvas have been used as the structural forms for the finished painting.

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2 Comments

  1. Fantastic Robbie, I do love your art and the processes you use.
    Kari Furre and I are busy completing our installation ‘We Find Ourselves at Sea’ for the ‘Just Add Water’ exhibition at Hannah’s Seale Hayne from the end of the month. Will post some pics when it’s up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you. That sounds great, I look forward to seeing the images of your work and the exhibition.

    Like

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