Saturday, 25 February 2017
If art reflects lidos, it does so with special mirrors.
Apologies to Bertold Brecht for the reworking of his fine words on art reflecting life, but I hope he wouldn't have minded. A man who wanted his audiences to think critically, to recognise social injustice and to leave the theatres and set about trying to effect change in the world might well have had some affinity for lidos given their early aims of providing opportunities to groups previously denied them. He might also have approved of the building of them being state sponsored to provide employment for the masses, and simultaneously improve public facilities for the working classes, during a time of austerity. Or he might have been a bit busy putting on plays and all that to spare it much thought. We'll never know.
What we do know, however, is that plenty of artists are inspired by outdoor pools. I've been thinking about that since I had a chance encounter with Stu Watkin of Oshe Design this week. A lovely man, who produces clean, stylised and breathtakingly beautiful prints that capture the spirit of places by stripping out detail and focussing on the elemental. He came to speak at the inaugural Lido Conference, last year, bringing examples of his work including a very fine commission of Jubilee Pool. He also made an incredibly generous offer to pools who want to licence his work to use on merchandise to diversify their income streams. Pools and artists can, and do, support one another in symbiotic relationships that have much to offer both sides.
This is one of my favourites amongst Stu's lido inspired work.
Stu isn't the only artist inspired by pools and swimmers. I've tweeted about Gail Myerscough's lido lovelies design before... and I expect I will again. It invokes the heyday of the grand old ladies of the lido world; the era when the likes of Morecombe's Super Stadium of Swimming would have played host to glamorous swimmers and spectators alike. And she's been kind enough to develop the design into a range of lovely things, so you can have a little lido glamour in all corners of your life.
But pools have played host to art and artists too. The marvellous Sandy Gusset project at Jubilee Pool mobilised a community into knitting vintage swimwear for display when the pool reopened after the extensive storm damage. Pells Pool hosted a writer in residence in 2016, Tanya Shadrick (@lidowriters) and her Wild Patience project has inspired both swimmers and other artists and writers alike. She will publish an anthology of writing inspired by swimming and water this year, Watermarks, and I'm delighted to have had a story selected for that.
Here's Tanya inspiring some young writers at Pells last summer.
This winter has seen seen a flurry of photographic projects documenting cold water swimmers, and Paul Meyler's shots of the UK Cold Water Swimming Championships at Tooting Bec are amongst those I like most.
And finally, in this brief round up of art reflecting lidos, I have to highlight the wonderful video shot at Hampton Pool for Seramic's fine song I Got You. I'm only slightly biased by my daughter being a synchronised swimmer.
I'd love you to tweet or email me with other examples of lido inspired art and artists, and I'll be really happy to tweet your recommendations widely by way of whetting our appetite for the forthcoming reopening of all our seasonal lidos. Talking of which... more on that soon as I'm currentry compiling a list of opening dates for circulation to pledgers only. By way of a thank you to all of you for your support.
As ever, please do share this post if you've enjoyed it. Help us put the crowd in crowd funding!