COSSIE DIVES IN: EMILY PONSONBY
We met with Emily Ponsonby, a wild swimming artist, focusing on the beauty of the female form. Read all about her experiences + her story.
We absolutely love how you focus on helping women see their bodies through the eyes of an artist. Talk to us about how you got into doing what you do and the inspiration behind your pieces.
I’m drawn to paintings that either make me look at something with renewed curiosity and admiration or that transport and stir me through recognising something within my own inner world. I began documenting my own body in the shower or bath first thing every morning back in 2017. The way the water snaked over me and distorted my body fascinated me. It was so immediate, real and refreshingly unidealised. This longing to capture the unfettered joy of real nudity has been a recurring theme ever since.
Your current series is a reflection of the remedial effects of immersing the body in water and the feeling of physical + mental weightlessness when fully submerged. What is your own experience with this and how have you connected with this feeling?
I love swimming, yet I’m as ungraceful as a slug with hiccups. That’s the beauty of plunging beneath the silky waters of a pond or wave, it’s not about speed or elegance but about wriggling free of clothes and sinking into an icy undiscovered watery realm.
What is your biggest influence and how does it come to fruition in your work?
I work best when the line between my life and my work is almost washed away. Here in Dorset, the silvery greys of the sea, rich umbers of relentless mud and the vibrant greens of fern-lined gullies dominate my paintings. Even the speed of my mark making is influenced by my walk to the studio – there’s no hiding from the whimsical space of Dorset life and the elements here.
Wild swimming has become such a thing recently and your paintings really capture the essence of it. Where is your favourite wild swimming spot and why?
The wild and wind-swept Outer Hebrides, without a doubt. Running down the vast desert sands to the water’s edge, alongside the howls of friends, siblings and birds, wide eyed and skin ablaze - that is the most alive I feel all year. It resets the mind, grounds the body and reminds you of your place in the world.
We all love swimming in our birthday suits, but when this isn’t possible, what is your favourite style of swimwear and why?
I swim whenever I’m near water, usually unexpectedly and unprepared - so the reality is I’m in pants. But on the rare occasion, I’ve had pre-warning, I will be in a one-piece that holds me tightly as I crawl across gnarly rocks or wade through reeds, trying not to disturb a disgruntled heron.
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