At Home in the Water

Vanessa Daws

Archive Exhibitions (15 October to 27 November 2022)
This autumn Fabrica presents a brand new artwork by Dublin-based artist Vanessa Daws. In this immersive film installation visitors are offered a unique insight into the experience of the long-distance swimmer.
Meshing together the swimmer’s inward monologue, the physical sensation of the water and the challenge of the open water endurance swim, the artwork invites us to wonder what strange fascination the sea has for us, why we choose to immerse ourselves in it and feel compelled to try to navigate it.

Vanessa Daws’ inspiration for the artwork is pioneer swimmer Mercedes Gleitze (1900–1981), and the exhibition also tells her fascinating story alongside material about Brighton’s swimming heritage.

Born in Brighton in 1900, Mercedes was the first Englishwoman to swim the Channel in 1927 and was a huge celebrity in her day, lauded for her record-breaking endurance swims. With the recent revival of public interest in sea swimming and its health benefits, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, this has reinvigorated interest in the swimmer and her achievements.

At Home in the Water at Fabrica is one element of an international ongoing project called Swimming a Long Way Together, a multi-sited three-year arts project produced by Vanessa Daws and curator Rosie Hermon. The project follows and celebrates Mercedes Gleitze’s notable endurance swims in Ireland, Northern Ireland and England, connecting with local swimming groups along the way and raising awareness of Mercedes’ sporting achievements with each event.

About The Artist

Vanessa Daws is a visual artist and a long-distance swimmer. Her art practice works at the intersection of art, swimming and place.
Swimming, journey, encounter, conversation and Vanessa’s own first hand swimming experiences are the starting points for her projects. This process she describes as ‘Psychoswimography’; the watery drifting and re-imagining of place. She uses film, sound, drawing, publications, sculpture and live events to create the artwork, working with different communities in different disciplines, all connected through particular bodies of water.
This artwork is part of 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.

Arts council england
Arts council ie
Heritage lottery fund
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