The Culture of Rowing and Swimming
Initiating new dialogues across sport and art
This symposium and related events, organised by myself and Rob La Frenais took place 15-18 July 2010.
Gediminas & Nomeda Urbonas were artists in residence for The Culture of Rowing and Swimming project. They have established an international reputation for their socially interactive and interdisciplinary practice. Combining the tools of new and traditional media, their work frequently involves collective activities. They undertook an artistic investigation of the River Thames for this project. ‘Besides the sky, a river is the only aspect of our urban environment that has not yet been parcelled out into real estate or butchered by human insensitivity and carelessness. It suggests far-away places and distant memories and thus gives to the urban citizens a most needed sense of freedom’ (Gyorgy Kepes, Artist).
A programme of artists’ films related to rowing and swimming, including work by Andrew Kotting, Kate Rew, Jayne Parker, Jem Cohen, Tony Hill, Helen Edwards and Cesare Pietroiusti was shown at Modern Art Oxford.
The Culture of Rowing & Swimming Symposium
took place at the Isis Farmhouse with inspiring talks by Rowley Douglas, rowing Olympic Gold Champion; Dervis Konuralp, Paralympic Swimming Champion; Joel Cahen, Creative Director of Wet Sounds and Kate Rew, Outdoor Swimming Society & author of Wild Swims . Other exciting presentations were given by Hans Maarten van den Brink, journalist and author of On the Water, Anatole Beam, Putney Town Rowing Club and Weybridge Rowing Club, Nicola Hewish, Ironbridge Rowing Club & Luce Choules, Artist; Tiffany Black, Artist and Oxford Brookes University Lecturer in Fine Art & Harriet Harriss, Architect and Oxford Brookes University Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Tine Bech, Artist.
More than 60 people took part in a social swim in the River Thames with the Outdoor Swimming Society on 17 July and 10 artists learnt with row with Oxford Academicals Rowing Club.
‘To be embraced and sustained by the light green water was less a pleasure, it seemed, than the resumption of a natural condition’ (John Cheever, The Swimmer).
See Events for some images from the event. More coming…