Bathers: These pieces are inspired by my visits to the Caribbean where the people of the island use the sea to socialize, relax and refresh. Each morning, groups walk down to the beaches and share time together in the sea. These meetings are sometimes locally referred to as “the breakfast club”. From childhood, at weekends and after school, the children spend time together in the sea. This experience forms an important part of their lives on the islands.
Observing a group of bathers is, to me, a representation of how we can interact, both with each other and with nature. On the fringe of our world we push just slightly into the unknown space of the ocean. It’s a place where, for a short time, we can leave the material “stuff of life” behind, and simply enjoy the company of family and friends, or spend time alone to reflect. If we enter the sea on our own or break off for a few minutes from the group, we can swim a little, float, walk or stand, and there – in isolation – have nothing impinge from the outside into our thoughts. It can offer the chance for reflection or dreams; perhaps, even a neutral state where we can spiritually relax too.
I found these scenes uplifting and was compelled to try to capture the experience. I love the sea and the Caribbean is a wonderful blend of natural and cultural richness. Upon visiting, walking slowly along the beach at the beginning and end of each day becomes a ritual, however, sketching from the beach has to be quick. There’s little detail to be seen and bathers are constantly moving. Whether bright sunlight or overcast, the rich starkness of the figures’ forms silhouettes against the warm, pale sea and this is the most important image I hold in my emotional and visual memory. After returning to the studio in London and working from fleeting scribbles made on the beach, I wanted the drawings and paintings to reflect these figures and scenes exactly as I saw them.