Underwater performance art

My journey started as a young girl off my local beach in Australia. “Underwater performance art” is a term my father used in the 70’s to describe his work then, he was doing underwater ballet in our local river.

In 2008, I started using my father’s an old analogue camera and underwater housing from the 70’s, to capture myself and my group of enthusiastic friends doing ‘underwater performances’.

In 2009, while at The Whitehouse Institute studying Style & Design, the brief was to do a shoot for a ‘perfume commercial’ and my ideas started streaming in.

I wanted to do something romantic dreamy, passionate. This was a chance to show my underwater skills meeting my creative imagination. The result was mind blowing at the time!

I could not sleep with excitement for the upcoming shoot, I had developed a character for my model and I had the screen play in my mind. I found a flowing wedding dress with lace in a opshop, I enlisted my beautiful friend Kalinka as the model and a bunch of other assistants to keep her from drowning!!

I took my team to the Bundeena jetty when the early morning light was at its best. It was the middle of winter and the water was about 16 degrees, but crystal clear! I was shooting and art directing the whole scenario underwater, and because my model could only wear anything but a floaty wedding dress, I declared I would not wear a wetsuit either. It was intensely cold! It was an intense shoot, with a bunch of 16 years old bobbing around in deep water. I am a passionate creative, so I always push for more, more, more until we had that perfect shoot!

Our lips were blue as we got out of the water, but we were heightened by the experience and the sense that something very special had been created! It felt like fashion rules were being broken and I knew instantly that underwater was my special creative place.

After the shoot I had to wait to develop the 35 mm film roll, it was old school. The risk of none of the shots turning out was real, as I had to manually set the focus underwater and that was particularly tricky. The result was beautiful.

I called the series of images ‘Aquarelle’ and they were awarded at school and became part of a private collection.

2010-14 when I was living in central America I was doing more advanced diving, I became a cave diver, and them a freediving instructor and started to experiment and extend my underwater Art Directing and modelling ideas...

Now I have 2 daughters who I plan to hand the tradition of underwater performance down to.

I’m glad to see this community grow with more people experimenting with underwater film and the possibility’s growing. working with Katty Fraser 2 years ago on playful projects together we were able to share our ideas, her beautiful work now a joy to see and be a part of.

Below the photo taken way back then at little old Bundeena jetty!! Some locals will remember us as a skeptical!