Water lovers swim through Art and Water show at The Mercer in Harrogate

By Ruth Hazard | 06 August 2012
A photo of a montage of photos of swimmers in bright blue swimming pools
Tim Smith's Splash was commissioned by the Mercer for Dive© Tim Smith
Exhibition: DIVE! Art and Water, Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate, until September 2 2012

Regardless of whether you know your Daleys from your Dell'Uomos, there’s no denying that the visual spectacle of the diving event makes for compelling viewing.

A long, tall photo of various divers heading towards a deep light blue swimming pool
Tim Smith, Splash© Oliver Dingley
Photographer Tim Smith captures the essence of this appeal in his shots of members of the City of Leeds Diving Club, five of whom are competing at London 2012.

His breathtaking shots of the athletes mid-dive, including teenagers Jack Laugher, Hannah Starling and Alicia Blagg, are the result of a commission by the Mercer Gallery for the Cultural Olympiad which showcases the talent of young sports stars from the region.

Smith’s images of competitive aquatic sport are contrasted with Tessa Bunney’s recent project, which documents the activities of leisure swimmers at the Serpentine pool in Hyde Park.

Bunney says that although the members of the Serpentine Swimming Club are people from all walks of life, all age groups and every ability, these photographs “make them indistinguishable” from each other.

The stills are combined with sound, made in collaboration with a recordist at the Serpentine, to give a sense of chatter taking place around the pool as people talk about what swimming means to them.

New works by figure painter Maxwell Doig also feature. His oblique aerial views capture lone swimmers as they appear in water, demonstrating his preoccupation with how variances in light and shade can alter the human form.

The gallery has chosen to complement the display with pieces from the Harrogate Fine Art Collection, including the photographic series Gellert, by Tacita Dean, which features female bathers basking in the rejuvenating waters of Budapest’s thermal baths. Early 19th century work Woodland Plunge Pool, by Simon Palmer, also appears.

  • Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm (2pm-5pm Sunday). Admission Free.

More pictures:

An image of an oil painting of a female swimmer in a red costume on a dark blue pool
Maxwell Doig, Night Swimmer© Maxwell Doig
A photo of a female swimmer in a black swimsuit and cap standing by an outdoor lake
Tessa Bunney's photographic project features swimmers from the Serpentine pool in Hyde Park
© Tessa Bunney
A photo of a man in a blue swimming cap holding a red towel by an outdoor lake
Members of the club enjoy hitting outdoor waters throughout the year
© Tessa Bunney
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