This Saturday, March 6 is your last chance to see Lizzie Buckmaster Dove's incredible Coming Up For Breath art installation at the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery in Nowra.
The immersive installation is centered on the Coledale sea pool with GoPros used to record footage of Lizzie swimming which is then projected onto massive silk chiffon curtains inside the main gallery.
Lizzie will actually will actually hold a Q and A in the space on her work this Saturday, March 6. More information go to https://events.humanitix.com/artist-talk-with-lizzie-buckmaster-dove
Lizzie's exhibition is going swimmingly
The Coming Up For Breath art installation takes you on a hypnotic journey - you are actually in the water of the sea pool, swimming with Lizzie - watching her kick, listening to the sound of the water rushing past as she carves her way through the water lap after lap.
The 14.3 x 7.6 metre installation takes up the majority of the main gallery, but you are able to walk around the outside.
Surrounded by silk, at one end you see Lizzie's torso carving through the water, at the other end you see her legs and feet in action.
"I swim laps daily at Coledale which is my local sea pool," she said.
"During that first part of lockdown last year, I think, April through to June, there were a group of us who held one another to account to show up each day and swim.
"One of my swimming companions actually said to me 'what do you think about when you are swimming?'
"I said, 'Oh, well, I'm looking at the bubbles. And I'm thinking about the film I'm going to make'.
"She said, 'what film?'
"The film about swimming."
"She asked what was stopping me? Why aren't you making it?
"I was, I don't think I've got stuff to do it.
"Her response was 'Well, what do we need to do to get you making that film?'
"She just stepped me through the process."
Before Lizzie knew it she was turning up to her swim sessions with cameras attached to different parts of her body in an attempt to collect footage and see which would be the best positions for cameras and the best way to go about it.
"I tried cameras on my hands, my legs...I borrowed my son's GoPro, then got another one," she said.
"We bought a couple of head mounts but they didn't work that well.
"I was quite interested in capturing the feeling of swimming laps.
"I wanted to manifest a space that also had that feeling so you could step into the work."
What followed was weeks of experimental filming to ensure the right angles and get the right light.
"The actual time span of the project wasn't that long," she said.
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"I started around the beginning of October and gave myself a soft deadline of Christmas to have the footage completed.
"I collaborated with two other people who were very instrumental - Emma Rutherford, who was the person who asked me what I'm thinking about when I swim.
"She was basically the midwife, a production manager. She pushed me and was as invested in it as much as I.
"She pushed me to explore or go deeper into fabric choices and the way that we're suspending things.
"She really guided that process and got me to think in ways that perhaps I wouldn't have done otherwise.
"I also worked with a filmmaker, Alexis Destoop from Belgium who is quite a hotshot video artist in Europe and quite well known here.
"Originally, I just called him and said, 'Alexis, can you just have a look at this footage? I've got on two GoPros and tell me if I've got enough resolution to do what I want to do, which is projected maybe five metres across.
"At first he said 'why GoPros Lizzy?'
"He thought it would be sufficient resolution but said I didn't have the footage yet. Eventually, at the end of that conversation he said, 'when you've got the footage bring it to me and I'll help you set the files up'.
"He was invested by then. We did two big editing sessions together and then he just kept tinkering. He started playing with the sound. He did the colour grading and he did all the post production."
Then there was the pre-production work trying different fabrics, projections, heights and other aspects.
"There were lots of variables, it could contract and it can expand, it can mutate to whatever the space is," Lizzie said.
"I could make multiple versions of this work - they wouldn't all be the same. It's already been suggested to put some cameras on the side, there's more scope.
"When we finally got it all together, as good as we could get it, the work was doing something to me, I had suspected it would but it was doing so much more and that was really, really quite overwhelming."
There are even cushions on the floor so you can easily sit down and immerse yourself in the work.
"The cushions came as a result of the work coming in here," she said. "It was Alexis who said, 'come in, get down on the floor, close your eyes and listen to the soundtrack. Now, we need cushions'."
However, the project wasn't without its challenges - even Mother Nature played a hand.
"The pool had been in an amazing state all year," Lizzie said.
"It's coastal, it sometimes fills with seaweed, it empties - but all of 2020 until then it was amazing, it had just been flushing itself out and we'd been able to swim.
"At one point, it stopped doing that, it filled with seaweed and turned green. Weeks and weeks passed and it was the same.
"It wasn't until November 26, quite late in my planned deadline, a Thursday, I found out council was going to clean the pool the following Monday.
"At that stage I was even contemplating using another sea pool.
"I had to work the Monday and Tuesday, so had to wait until Wednesday, and there was already seaweed coming back in.
"So I got some footage that day but it was cloudy. So it wasn't that visible, really. On good days the light plays on the floor of the pool and the water surface, it's really significant.
"I wanted a day where there was light coming in, so I went back on the Thursday morning and I actually had to haul seaweed out of the pool and sweep it out the way with my feet.
"That day I swam about 30 laps, got home looked at the footage and there was a clunking sound - the cameras were hitting one another.
"I was working that day at 1pm, so I just went back down and did another 20 laps - so 50 laps for the day."
Just a leisurely 2.5km swim in the 50m pool.
"I usually do 20 laps but I was invested in this and needed to get the footage," she said.
Openly admitting she's "no Olympic swimmer" and a swim coach would "probably pull her action apart" she tried to choreograph her swim.
The turns at the end of each lap were choreographed to be the same over and over again for the 20 laps.
"There was no stopping once I started - I slept well that night that's for sure.
"I got the footage, we booked an editing session and here it is."
She said seeing it now she feels "quite humble".
"I feel really proud. Artists and writers say they make work that become doorways and windows," she said.
"This feels like a really pivotal work for me, the accumulation of years of work.
"It also feels like this doorway I can step into making works that I haven't yet imagined.
"It's shown me things I didn't know before."
Incredibly, it is the first time she has worked with video or fabric.
"This was an innovation for me," she said.
"In the past I've suspended concrete from ceilings. I mostly approach work with a concept ready, with an idea about what it is I'm trying to do and then the materials follow.
"For a long period of time I was making works with paper and carving books.
"I do installations on gallery floors with ephemeral materials, things like stones, rocks that are just floor work.
"I recently drew on the walls with little coal pebbles from around Coledale pool.
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"It's really just led by a response to what's happening or whether there's a constraint or a particular project that I'm thinking to show."
The swimming loop lasts 33 minutes and 37 seconds.
As for the future she would like to tour the work and has begun conversations with some other regional galleries.
Lizzie graduated with a BA from the University of NSW, College of Fine Arts and is currently a Masters of Philosophy candidate in the schools of Human Geography and Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong.
In 2017 she was the joint winner of the inaugural All Into Ocean Pools writing award for her lyrical essay Archaeology of Sea Pools: A Love Letter and received international attention for her Australia Council of the Arts funded work Pool, the Alchemy of Blue exhibited at Wollongong Art Gallery in 2013.
In 2018 Lizzie was commissioned to write a suite of poems in response to works from the Wollongong Art Gallery collection that were exhibited directly onto the walls.
Her formative experience of "meeting" the Blue Pool in Bermagui features in Therese Spruhan's book The Memory Pool, published by Newsouth Books in 2019.
Lizzie's work is held by Artbank NSW, Emirates, The City of Sydney, Town Hall collection and Wollongong Art Gallery as well as privately in Spain, United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand and Australia.
The Shoalhaven Regional Gallery, Berry Street Nowra is open Tuesday to Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.