Sea Swim gets toedippers out in Yorkshire as creative sessions enjoy North Sea invigoration

By Laura McArthur | 13 February 2012
A photo of a woman sitting in a deckchair outside a beach hut
Sea Swim is inspiring Scarborough© Kippa Matthews
Exhibition: Sea Swim, Woodend Creative Workspace, Scarborough, until February 24 2012

A project that has encouraged more than 750 people across Yorkshire to dip more than just their toes into the county’s chilly waters, including 250 Scarborough school children,, enjoyed an official launch as part of Coastival’s Rather Splendid Day Out.

Since May 2011, the Sea Swim project has helped bathers rediscover or experience for the first time the particular exhilaration, stimulation and inspiration that comes from swimming in the sea.

Sea Swim is supported by Imove, the cultural celebration accompanying the Olympic Games, designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012.

Organised swims were followed by creative sessions in which those taking part produced original poems and creative writings. The result is a multi-layered exhibition brought together by curator and artist Lara Goodband.

“We believe swimming transforms your imagination and your body and that Scarborough’s South Bay is an extraordinary place to swim,” she says.

“The films we’ve made have really captured the feelings of pure joy that many sea swimmers describe when they enter the North Sea.”

The accompanying exhibition will also include a beach hut installation which recreates the Grade II-listed Edwardian beach huts at the south end of Scarborough’s coastline, acting as a base for the creative sessions following the public swims.

In a separate room, visitors can view 74 Seconds, a projection piece of people filmed treading water inspired by Victorian local endurance swimmer Captain Webb, who once trod water for 74 hours in Scarborough to win a £500 bet.

“This exhibition celebrates the communal, social aspect of the project we’ve been running over the past eight months. This project has encouraged swimmers to explore their artistic interests,” says Writer and Co-Artistic Director of Sea Swim John Wedgwood Clarke.

“The creative sessions following each swim have been a great success and the result is a testament to this truly collaborative project where the act of participation is as much the work of art.”

  • Open 10am-4pm. Admission Free. Exhibition continues Shandy Hall, York (March 24); Scarborough Literature Festival – The Long Weekend (April 15); The Pannett Gallery, Whitby (July 3); Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (August 18) and York Art Gallery (September 1 – December 31 2012) Visit for information about the swim and creative sessions throughout 2012.

More pictures:

A photo of a person drawing on a piece of a paper in a coastal setting
The exhibition includes personal prose written onto postcards by the sea swimmers© Kippa Matthews

A photo of a group of people wading into the sea
A series of four short films by Lara Goodband has been compiled from footage collected at the public swims© Kippa Matthews

A photo of a person swimming in the sea
The art work from Sea Swim will tour the county© Kippa Matthews

A photo of a group of people having fun in the sea
Sea Swim counts Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy as a Patron© Kippa Matthews

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