Pools. The word has connotations of dreamy, cool places. My imagination travels swiftly to fashionable Slim Aarons type infinity swimming
pools on the Côte d’Azur, stunning outdoor lidos, and secret freshwater pools
hidden far from prying eyes in this era of Instagram and mobile phone
connectivity. The air of relaxation, luxury and indulgence that arises in the
senses which comes from the feeling of immersing oneself in a body of water.
Always exhilarating, refreshing and stimulating.
I am drawn to the many pools in art that have inspired me. From the
bright and almost graphic Hockney Californian pools which highlight the play of
light on the surface of the water with contrasting yellow-sunlit squiggly
lines, to the public swimming baths depicted in a more painterly fashion by
Leon Kossoff, to the photographic study of nine swimming pools by Ed Ruscha,
which I recently saw in the flesh at Tate Modern, and to the photographer
Deanna Templeton’s study of swimmers under water. Interior pools also spring to
mind in Bonnard’s paintings of his wife Marthe at her bath.
I also thought of more natural rock pools on Porthmeor beach in St
Ives, the hours spent climbing and fishing in these as a young child, and of
clear pools of water that nestle on hollowed out bowls in huge granite boulders
on the Cornish moors, reflecting a vast sky above. Pools of rainwater that
gather in Barbara Hepworth sculptures in her magical leafy garden in the middle
of St Ives.
With so much to inspire my own paintings, I drew on my recent
discovery and love of outdoor Lido swimming, which reminded me of swimming in
friends’ outdoor pools in my youth. The sense of freedom, the noise the water
makes as you glide through it. I started to visualise idyllic pools and
situations, blue skies, naked bathing, country and urban swimming pools. In
‘Nymph’, ‘Swimming Pool’, ‘Selfie Heaven’ and ‘Swim’ the scale and form of my
figures are slightly distorted by the water, or I have distorted them as a way
of making them seem more real in their surroundings.
A more abstract approach to my response to pools can be seen in
‘Perfect Spot’, where the cerulean blue shape could be describing one of those
pools that gathers naturally in landforms and boulders that are scattered in
the landscape that surrounds my studio in Cornwall, highlighting its ancient
history. In ‘Woolgathering’ a floating shape hovers and moves fluidly over
three blue pools, themselves surrounded by a nurturing sienna hued earth
ground. Finally, the small canvas ‘Cape Pool’ takes me to the Cape at the tip
of St Just in Penwith. The intrusion of the sea, the crevices in the rocks, the
inlets, outlets, rushing, powerful sea water, waves, salt air, spray and tides
all provided the inspiration for this painting.
The paintings in this exhibition will be accompanied by a small
series of complementary works on paper.
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