I used to say that photography saved my life, but that isn’t quite right. I need to take one extra step back, and I’ll tell you about that in a minute.
First, what does water mean to me as an artist?
In a word – EVERYTHING. In my late twenties, while I was working as a photojournalist at a newspaper, I had an attack of constant migraines . . . morning, noon and night, every day, all day for over 3 years.
As a treatment, one of the doctors suggested a daily swim. While swimming, which did provide relief, I would think, “If I ever get well, I’ll become a full-time photographer and open my own studio.”
I did eventually get well, and I opened my studio in the 80’s. In the meantime, I kept on swimming as much as possible. I refer to the pool as “my office” because so many art projects were conceived there.
It took some time before I was able to connect the two passions in my life -- photography and swimming. But from the first underwater roll of film, I knew I had found a deeply personal means of expression.
I’ve had the good fortune to use the freshwater available to me in Canada. I think I took it for granted all these years. I’ve been shooting underwater since 2000, but I never questioned water’s availability. It was always just there.
Now it is time for me to give back. Donating our art (mine and all the other fine artists in this collection) means that Waterkeeper can continue to do its good work.
This is a great organization. Mark and Krystyn and the team have created such a warm and personable community. I feel that it’s safe to get a little bit personal with you and share this story from my past. I hope you will do the same for us.
On April 23, stop by the Watermark Booth at the Waterkeeper Gala Toronto and register your watermark in our archive.
Barbara Cole is an artist and co-chair of the Waterkeeper Art Selection Committee alongside Michael Adamson. She has been part of the Waterkeeper community since 2012.