Amy Sharrocks (Arts in the Elements, 2015)Keepy-Up, Amy Sharrocks, photo Huge Glendinning

Amy Sharrocks

Finalist in 2015 for Arts in the Elements

Amy Sharrocks works across multiple art forms: live artworks, sculpture and film. She produces pieces which are accessible to all ages and abilities, looking at the ways we communicate and exploring ‘the architecture of a moment’. She adds “through co-creation and co-authorship I try not to overshadow the works, but allow everyone their space so that participants’ own experience, communication and expression are a vital part.” Her work repeatedly deals with journeys and vulnerability, and she won an inaugural Sculpture Shock prize from The Royal British Society of Sculptors for her work on falling.

Over the last 12 years, a subject her work has often returned to is the element of water. Her work can draw large audiences, or focus on the intimate and isolated as in ‘drift’ (2009), which offered people time to drift with her in an inflatable boat in an unoccupied swimming pool. Initially sited at the historic and ornate Camberwell Baths, the piece travelled the UK as a site-specific live work.
Her most notorious work to date is perhaps ‘SWIM’ (2007), where 50 people joined Sharrocks in a 13-hour live work where they travelled across London completing one length of fifteen bodies of water: 10 swimming pools, 2 lakes and 3 lidos. The participants remained in their swimming costumes for the duration, often leading to comedic and unexpected encounters with the public, which became a feature of the piece.
Most recently, Sharrocks has established ‘Museum of Water’, a fascinating collection of water donated by the public and illustrating the prevalence, utility, essential and vulnerable nature of this element. Donations include the intimate ‘Evaporation of Grief’, collection no. 282, by Annette Fry (18.11.2009), who collected water from a river the day of her partner’s death and then watched as the water slowly disappeared over years on her mantelpiece, just as the immediate desperate shock and anguish of her grief lessened.

Sharrocks’ preoccupation with water stems from its significance as a symbolic, material and metaphorical substance which she says “can hold the most tender and difficult-to-define feelings and ideas without feeling stretched”.
In 2014 she was one of the Connect10 artists selected for Museums at Night. It was won by Swansea Museum, and with them she made ‘DAYTRIP’, a mass fall into the sea at Swansea Bay, which was filmed by the BBC for broadcast in September 2015. Keen swimmers will be looking forward to ‘Swim the Thames’, a live piece where Sharrocks proposes that shipping traffic on the River Thames be suspended so that 100 participants can swim the Pool of London at Tower Bridge. It will be interesting to see if any of the co-creators of ‘SWIM’ or ‘DAYTRIP’ will be diving back into her work or watching from the riverbank as the art is taking place.