Photographer Stephen Lenthall and sculptor Wilfrid Wood have collaborated on a photographic series titled Swimmers, which brings Wilfrid’s expressive and energetic works into unforeseen environs packed with drama and ambience.
The two have been acquaintances for some time, and have often worked together too, with Stephen photographing many of Wilfrid’s works. Yet they never found the right project on which creatively join forces.
“I was always thinking about a project where our work could meet in the middle,” says Stephen. “I’m more about the minimal and abstract whereas Wilfrid is all about character. I wanted to put Wilfrid’s work into some kind of context, so I can concentrate on everything that surrounds the figure and hopefully bring atmosphere and hints of a narrative”.
The opportunity arose when Stephen was shooting a personal project using a water tank. “That’s when it hit me: swimmers!” he explains. “It just seemed perfect. It’s a universal activity, whether you’re a keen sportsperson, larking about on holiday or taking a wild swim at dusk. There’s loads of opportunities for different moods and scenes.”
Wilfrid’s charismatic and diverse sculptures are photographed in that same water tank, which is 2.5m long and a few centimetres deep, with the duo adding special effects in the most lo-tech fashion to incredible effect.
“It’s me rippling the water with one hand and splashing with the other, and Wilfrid blowing down a bubbling hosepipe whilst wafting mist from a mini smoke machine.”