New art project inspired by Fife’s coastal swimmers

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
A Fife-based artist is set to embark on a new two-year art project inspired by the lure of coastal swimming.

Joanna van den Berg’s new project, titled IMMERSE will take the form of a tribute, exploration and celebration of the growing numbers of ‘feisty 50+ers, women in particular’, whose lives, well-being and sense of solidarity have been galvanised through regular immersion in Scotland’s seas, lochs, rivers and reservoirs.

The East Neuk Studio artist has secured National Lottery Funding through Creative Scotland’s Open Fund.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As one of many who started wild swimming during the Covid pandemic, artist Joanna van den Berg has drawn inspiration from the physical and emotional impact of this directly immersive encounter with the landscape.

Wild swimming at St MonansWild swimming at St Monans
Wild swimming at St Monans

In her own words, ‘the act of transitioning from land to water; the shock, the fear, the exhilaration.’

Developed in collaboration with swimmers, coastal artists and communities, Joanna will develop a series of mixed-media artworks, with a companion collection of writing and images.

IMMERSE will host a series of exhibition/gathering events in coastal venues, aiming to produce a companion publication/anthology of text and images for wider distribution by December 2024. News on these, along with call-outs for contributors and regular updates on the project, will be available on an IMMERSE Instagram/Facebook channel from January.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Joanna said: “I'm delighted to have been awarded Open Project funding for IMMERSE, a project to create visual narrative for the emotional and physical lure of wild, coastal and tidal pool swimming.

I'll be developing work that draws directly from the stories and experiences of swimmers in Scotland's East Coast communities.

“Much of my work is bound in transitions between land and water, lost and found, known and unknown, and is increasingly underpinned by my experience of aging.

“I am one of an armada of wild swimmers - many of whom are older women - with a newfound and directly immersive relationship with the landscape. I'm particularly interested in the correlation of wild swimming with age-related changes to our bodies, lifestyle and social autonomy.”

Her project is one of 69 to secure a total of £1,197,933 National Lottery funding in this latest round of Creative Scotland’s Open Fund awards.