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.
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.
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.