Artist Statement


My art practice explores place through swimming. Swimming as research, process and live event.

I have always swum, 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 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 explores how swimming as part of art practice can allow us to develop new insights as to why we swim and questions ways in which we accept as normal our pursuits and chosen rituals and how 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. Can swimming alter our relationship with the water that surrounds us and allow for a deeper understanding of fluid spaces?

Through the search for swimmers and suitable places to swim, stories appear that lead my art projects; this process I describe as ‘Psychoswimography’. The word ‘swim’ added to Psychogeography shifts the meaning from a terrestrial drifting to a watery drifting and re-imagining of place. ‘Place’ being the watery spaces navigated and swam through, the surrounding littoral space and the social spaces created by this shared activity.

Swimming, journey, encounter, invitation, conversation, post swim shivering and drinking of tea all form part of the methodology I use to gather stories that inform my projects, as well as more conventional art forms such as film, sound recording, drawings, publications, made objects and performance.

In the past few years I have created art projects in watery spaces as diverse as the frozen Pirita River, Estonia; the Rideau Canal, Canada; The President’s Fountain, Bulgaria; the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara; UCD Lake, Dublin; the M50 Aqueduct, Dublin and the bogs of Ballycroy, Co Mayo.

This website is currently under some maintenance work. It will be looking better very soon!

Vanessa Daws C.V. 2017


Visual Artist Newsletter article : Psychoswimography Santa Barbara



Blog :


I make books from my art projects, these are the same size as the Dublin Tide Timetable books and serve as a tangible afterglow of the work. Here are the PDF links to the boos.

“What is a Lake?” 2016 What is a Lake?

“Psychoswimography: Sanata Barbara” 2015 Psychoswimography Santa Barbara

“Lambay Swim a collaborative journey” 2014 Lambay Swim – a collaborative Journey

This book I made of the 1st Lambay Swim before I realised that this was to become a trilogy of swims to about and around Lambay Island. This 1st swim was made relay style with the sea swimming community from Malahide.

“Swimming in Ballycroy” 2013

“The History of the Slippery Pole” 2013

“This is your normal” 2013

They cost €7 each including postage, I don’t have a website shop set up, but if you contact me on the email I can sort you out.