I’m a visual artist and a long distance swimmer.
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 swim. My work investigates where this drive to swim long distance comes from, this desire keep on swimming for hours upon hours on end without stopping. 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 art practice works at the intersection of art, swimming and place.
Swimming, journey, encounter, conversation and my own first hand swimming experiences are the starting points for my projects. This process I have been describing as ‘Psychoswimography’. The word ‘swim’ added to Psychogeography to shift the meaning from a terrestrial drifting to a watery drifting and re-imagining of place. I use film, sound, drawing, publications, sculpture and live events to create the work.
I have been developing a multi-layered way of working with different communities in different disciplines, all connected through particular bodies of water.
I am currently working on a durational art project ‘Swimming a Long Way Together” that draws its inspiration from pioneering swimmer Mercedes Gleitze as part of its wider celebration of swimming and swimming communities.
Swimming a Long Way Together is part funded by the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call Award and has been unfolding across a series of live events and exhibitions in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and soon in England and France. These expansive moments represent the contemporary experience of open water swimming through the legacy of Mercedes Gleitze, a pioneer swimmer from the 20th century who undertook many challenging and pioneering swims across Ireland, Britain and beyond. Mercedes became celebrated for her swimming achievements, huge audiences would come to cheer her on or to greet her whenever she emerged from the water. Music played a central role, as an accompaniment and support, often helping to create a festive atmosphere on the pool deck and raise her spirits as she swam vast stretches of open water.
In the past few years I have created art projects in watery spaces as diverse as the frozen Pirita River, Estonia; the Rideau Canal in Canada; The President’s Fountain, Bulgaria; the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara; the M50 Aqueduct in Dublin to the Bogs of Ballycroy, Co Mayo.
C.V. Vanessa Daws CV 2021
Contact me: email@example.com
“Swimming a Long Way Together” Website:
“Beyond Islands” Article in Visual Artist Ireland News Sheet Jan/Feb 2020:
TRESPASS! – Group exhibition at Sheffield Institute of Art 2019. Review in ‘Our Favourite Places’
Fingal Independent article 2017 : Fingal Independent article
Visual Artist Newsletter article : Psychoswimography Santa Barbara
Vimeo : https://vimeo.com/user4205335
Soundcloud : https://soundcloud.com/swimness