Water Light and Flickering (Linda Ward)
Water Light and Flickering (Linda Ward)
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    Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard

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An Ode to the Sea is an exhibition put together by two researchers from the University of Plymouth, Linda Ward and Dr Eva McGrath together with health care professional Ellie Ricketts, to explore different and yet shared interests with the use and study of the sea and Firestone Bay in Plymouth. The film will be screened and work introduced during the An Ode to the Sea research evening on Wednesday 27 September at Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard.
Date: Monday 25 – Friday 29 September 2023
Time: 09:00–16:00
Venue: Ocean Studios, Royal William Yard
Ticket information: Free  
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About the artists

Linda Ward

Linda is a Lecturer in Filmmaking and a doctoral researcher by film practice at Plymouth University. Her award-winning film poems have been screened around the world including the London Short Film Festival, The New York Flash Film Festival and the Barcelona Film and Video Festival. She has over 20 years of experience as a professional broadcaster, working as a presenter, producer and director on a broad range of news, documentary and factual programming for ITV and BBC television and radio.  

Water Light and Flickering Photographic Series and award-winning Film Poem, At Devil’s Point (2022), Linda Ward  

In this short film, of three minutes and fourteen seconds, the principal motif is the statue at Firestone Bay of the Stella Maris. The filming of the sea at Firestone Bay from a different time in sparkling sunlight is projected onto the static form of the Stella Maris. The projected film of sea water spills into the night finding a screen on the statue, believed by those who placed her at the water's edge, to protect those at sea. It won awards for experimental film at the Caravan International Film Festival and the Make Art not Fear Film Festival in 2022. The accompanying photographic work includes some of the sequence of images portrayed in the film.  
Water Light and Flickering (Linda Ward)
Water Light and Flickering (Linda Ward)

Dr Eva McGrath 

Eva is a social researcher who uses creative methods to explore connections with the environment. She is a NERC Cross-Disciplinary Research Fellow, focussed on Immersion: Exploring maternal experiences of sea swimming – bridging health and humanities within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences + Faculty of Health, and a Social Science Researcher focussed on Elms-Exchange within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. 

Immersion: Voices of Plymouth Sea Swimmers, Dr Eva McGrath 

During the spring of 2022 Dr Eva McGrath and Dr Laura Denning invited 20 regular sea swimmers at Firestone Bay (Devils Point) to keep a diary of their thoughts, emotions, and observations every time they swam. Swimmers were invited to workshops that explored themes including health and wellbeing, water quality and interactions with marine/bird life in the context of Plymouth becoming a National Marine Park. The exhibition showcases a selection of portraits of the swimmers, set alongside their personal diary extracts to communicate what the sea means to swimmers in Plymouth. The research was funded by the Marine Institute at the University of Plymouth, in collaboration with Plymouth City Council, Luke Pollard and the Ocean Conservation Trust. 
In 2023, Eva conducted the second phase of her research project - Immersion: exploring maternal experiences of sea swimming – bridging health and humanities, with Professor Jill Shawe. Funded by NERC Cross-Disciplinary Fellowship, University of Plymouth. 
Image: Eva McGrath, Photographer Jake Taylor-Bruce.
Eva McGrath wild swimming in Plymouth, Photographer Jake Taylor-Bruce
Eva McGrath, Photographer Jake Taylor-Bruce

Ellie Ricketts 

Ellie is a counsellor at the Mustard Tree Cancer Support Centre, Plymouth NHS Trust and a lifelong outdoor swimmer. She trained this year with Chill UK to become a Chill Coach to realise her dream of bringing the joy and magic of being in the sea to people with cancer. 

Into the Blue – cold water swimming after a cancer diagnosis, Ellie Ricketts 

Into the Blue seeks to instil confidence and joy in cold water swimming for anyone with a cancer diagnosis. It offers a supported, playful space to slowly explore the experience of being held in the cold sea and notice how your body and mind respond to the multiplicity of powerful sensory, social, and spiritual experiences that arise in that environment. 
Courses run for eight weeks at Bigbury on Sea, chosen for its beauty, cleanliness, and ease of access. Swimmers talk of the adventure of turning off into the lanes, then cresting the hill to see the sea sparkling below. There is a strong emphasis on fun - we learn to bob, float, duck dive, body surf and do handstands – underpinned by a person-centred approached approach. Swimmers are encouraged to gradually grow beyond their starting ability and are supported in achieving their personal aims by the Coach and each other. Dipping and swimming is the main focus, but being part of the group is to feel understood in your cancer experience. 
The course is underpinned with a safety-first approach. Swimmers are supported in the water by a Chill Coach (part of South Devon Chill) who is also an oncology counsellor, and we are lifeguarded by Coast to Coast Water Safety in the water. 
Into the Blue is funded by a Macmillan grant and is currently in its first year. Swimmers can include those on treatment, post treatment or be living with cancer, and either register themselves, or be referred by a member of staff at a hospital or a cancer support service. 
Feedback to date centres around swimmers now holding a “super power” - using the totality of attention the water demands to powerfully reset mood and pain. My dream of fostering an ongoing relationship with the sea for them has also been borne out. The first two groups of Into the Blue swimmers confidently continue to meet each week to swim in Devon seas and rivers. 
Ellie Ricketts
Ellie Ricketts

Ocean exhibition 

Explore other events this season, inspired by our Ocean exhibition, including across the music, film and events programmes. 
Photo by Lloyd Russell, University of Plymouth
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