PICTURE SPECIAL: Swimmer channels art into exhibition

AN artist who swam the English Channel is bringing a collection of her work to a South Tyneside gallery.

Frances Anderson took on the marathon swimming challenge in 2008, completing it in under 20 hours.

WATER WORKS ... Frances Anderson at her exhibition of photographs (main picture and left) based on her English Channel swim.

WATER WORKS ... Frances Anderson at her exhibition of photographs (main picture and left) based on her English Channel swim.

The 43-year-old now has her first solo exhibition, Immersion, on display at the Port of Tyne Gallery at The Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields.

Her work, made up of photographs, prints and film, is based around her experiences of open water swimming.

Frances said: “I’ve done a lot of open water swimming and I’ve used those experiences to influence my work.

“It’s all about those little movements in the water and the colours that people don’t usually realise because they’re too busy splashing about.

“I like looking at those little details and the subtle shifts in texture and colour that we don’t usually notice.

“This is my first solo exhibition so I’m really excited, but of course it’s a bit scary as well.”

She added: “I’ve had some really good feedback from people and a lot of people have said they’re going to come along.”

Frances, who lives in Alnwick, Northumberland, swam the Channel in July 2008 in 19 hours and 46 minutes.

She said: “It was really hard, but it was a personal challenge and something that I always wanted to do.

“I’ve always been drawn to the water and have always preferred swimming in open water rather than pools.

“I met a lot of different people who had done it and I got together a relay team and did it that way at first, but I decided I wanted to do it on my own and did in 2008.

“It’s extremely tough not just physically but mentally, and you ask yourself what you’re doing the whole time.

“I had a seagull swim with me for four or five hours, which is unusual because they usually only follow boats, not people.

“My crew named him Gulliver and he would swim by my feet, but whenever I was feeling down, he would come up and swim by my head instead so I could turn and see him.”

Frances is training for the 17-kilometre Gibraltar Strait swim next year.

She is taking on the challenge to raise funds for charity If U Care Share, which supports families bereaved through suicide.

To find out more about Frances’ work, go to www.frances-anderson.com

Immersion is on display at The Customs House until Sunday, June 15. Entry is free.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki