I’m a visual artist and a long distance swimmer.

My art practice explores place through swimming. Swimming as part of the research, process and live event. ‘Place’ being the watery space that is navigated and swam through and the social space created by this shared activity.

Swimming, journey, encounter and conversation are the starting points for my art projects, the research uses field recordings, interviews, archive and my own first hand experience of the swims to gather material that inform the 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.

The open water swimming community is well connected, a global and borderless network. I am interested in how the history of long distance swimming traverses invisible frontiers and how interconnected histories can be shared through swimmers stories from around the world.

Can swimming as part of art practice allow us to develop new insights as to why we swim and question ways in which we accept as normal our chosen pursuits? Through acclimatisation and adaption we can surprise ourselves and go beyond our expectations. Swimming is an activity that connects humans directly to water, my art practice investigates being ‘in’ this substance of immense power and unknown from a lived in, embodied experience.

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, to immerse oneself in water comes from. 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.

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: vanessadaws10@gmail.com


“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




Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/swimness


Blog : http://vanessadaws.wordpress.com