WILD PLACES: South West Waters

In these last few weeks I’ve been attending workshops in Devon and Cornwall.

This year I decided to spend more time in water exploring this love I have for being in and under it. I wanted to dig deeper into what I love about it and simply to spend more time in water. That’s something I find hard sometimes – to invest time in things I love doing. My efforts follow…

In Devon I attended the course ‘Swimming: a labour of imagination’ at Dartington Hall run by two very inspiring women Kari Furre and Nancy Sinclair from Art.earth. It was run for artists that also practice swimming. We swam in the River Dart and off the South Devon Coast. The weather was hot, the water was not. A bit of a contrast to the warmer waters of the Gulf of Thailand and the Mediterranean I’ve got myself used to! I luckily borrowed a wetsuit. Beyond the cold water, it’s so worth swimming there… it’s beautiful. And the sea will always remain wild. Perhaps it can be polluted and spoilt, but the wilderness just can’t be taken out. That’s a big relief to me somehow.

It was the first time I tried distance swimming out of a pool. I tackled my technique some help from Kari. That was tough – to take instruction in a medium I feel so at home in – a bit of a kick for the ego. But actually, it helped (of course) and now with a bit of time relaxing the busy thinking about it, it’s integrating.

In the ability to relax into the technique, the surrounding comes alive again, so actually I want to go back to those places again to enjoy them without 100 things I’m trying to do to move through the water better.

The group was hugely supportive and they LOVE swimming, water and the places they practice – and they’re out in all seasons. That’s gutsy and inspiring.

In terms of swimming and bringing it into what I do and facilitate… I tried out – with a willing group of very good-humoured swimmers – an aquatic movement class in the pool. It was hilarious and very helpful to begin something… watch this space.

Next, in Cornwall I joined a ‘Body Landscape’ workshop run by Frank van de Ven on the Lizard Peninsula. Lots of amazing practices and provocations in this huge body of work which is rooted in the wider Body Weather system originating in Japan in the 80’s and 90’s.

I swam everyday in the sea. I loved it. And I remembered something I missed in straight out swimming – play. And I started to think about ways to invite people into play and water… semi-aquatic or amphibious walks. Keep watching this space!


(photo: Akshay Sharma)

Workshop participant Mary wrote some words about the water walk we tried out… thank you Mary!


The swell pulls

Us. Amphibious folk
Into the chilly waves.
Big breath, gasp, as cold engulfs our limbs.
Wet faces
To regulate.
Under I go
The salt and wet consume me, into their world
Another world
Floating, flying, weightless and then
Heavy on the smooth pebbles
We zig zag
In and out
We play
Backwards camel, running jump, crawling
Winston floats behind me, holding my hips
I lie on the shoreline
Waves rushing up my spine and into my hair
And back down.
Tiny pebbles find the creases of my body, embed and stay a while.
Bones chilled, brains awakened
Like lizards, we search for warmth on the smooth dark cliff
– Mary Eddowes


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