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ARTISTS IN RESIDENCE 2015

VANESSA DAWS

I have always swam, not competitively, or for particularly long distances; but when passing a body of water, be it pond, fountain, lake, river or sea, it's hard for me not to resist the urge to take a quick swim. My art practice investigates where this drive to swim, to immerse oneself in water comes from. Is this urge spiritual, escapism or social? Is it the sheer thrill of the unknown; to feel the water on our skin, the cold on our head, adapt our breathing and to feel we exist?

 

My work lends itself to site specific situations, and through chance meetings, the search for swimmers and the ultimate swim spot, stories appear that lead the projects; this process I describe as ‘psychoswimography’. Encounter, conversation and journey are all elements that build up my art practice. I use swimming as a starting point and I also work in a range of art forms such as video, sound, animation, drawing, photography and publications. Through meeting swimmers and the shared experience of water my work explores ways in which we accept as normal our pursuits and chosen rituals, and also how through acclimatisation and adaption we can surprise ourselves and go beyond our expectations.

 

The cold water sparks off many chemical reactions, a feeling of euphoria and giddiness while semi naked in the frigid sea that somehow allows us to act feral, to shout and laugh high on endorphins. Are there ways to ‘see’ this effect or test and get data from the experience that could be used as part of an art project?

 

There are many fears in the ocean, the fear of never being able to return, of drowning, hyperthermia, traffic, but the biggest fear I believe, is of the unknown. What is underneath us as we swim?

 

“An ocean without unnamed monsters would be like sleep without dreams”

John Steinbeck from the Aquatopia catalogue, Nottingham Contemporary 2013

 

During my year in the UCD Art in Science Residency I hope to talk to all scientists whose research touches the aquatic in any form, from Marine Biology, Environmental Studies, Fluid Dynamics and beyond.

 

Since graduating with a Masters - Art in the Digital World - at NCAD 2013, I have had a three month research residency at Studio 468, Rialto followed by a six month studio residency at the RHA.

 

I was a recipient of the Artist in the Community Award 2014 where I worked in collaboration with the sea swimming community at Malahide, Co Dublin.

I’m just back from a month in California where I made new site specific work that was part of the BABEL Working Group Conference in Santa Barbara.

I had 7 solo exhibitions in art centres in Ireland from 2009 - 2011.

 

My art practice has taken me to such swim in such places as the frozen Pirita River, Estonia; Santa Barbara, US; The Liffey, Dublin; The President’s Fountain, Bulgaria; Lisbon, Portugal; London; The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wales and the bogs of Ballycroy, Mayo.

 

More information my work can be found at:

 

www.vanessadaws.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lambay-Swim_web Psychoswimography-Santa-Barbara_web This is your normal Uncharted_web

“This is your normal” Tallinn, Estonia 2013

“Lambay Swim” Malahide, Co Dublin 2014

A collaborative journey to Lambay Island as part of the Artist in the Community Award.

“Psychoswimography - Santa Barbara” 2014

Site specific work made with the Ocean Ducks for the BABEL Working Group Conference, California.

"Uncharted" Low Rock, Malahide, 2014

The culminating event for the Artist in the Community Award.