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Exhibition: Above, below and beyond by freediving photographic artist Janeanne Gilchrist

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Janeanne Gilchrist is a photographic artist and image-maker. She was born and brought up in Edinburgh and graduated from Napier University in 1996 with a BA (Honours) in photography and film.

The sea and the self: these are territories Janeanne Gilchrist explores and merges seductively in this exhibition of intricately composed and infinitely ambiguous sub-aquatic images.

She forages for objects in the depths – a tangle of fishing net, a singed seaman’s sou’wester, discarded fish gut, a decomposing plastic bag – the thoughtlessly discarded cast-offs of fishermen and of man. She searches out subjects – the spawning seaweed, the mesmerizing alien glow of a jellyfish, the stone washed bones of a migratory bird.

Structuralism

The work is made to provoke, and it will be criticized for turning rubbish into art however what it aims to do is raise the debate further about the state of all our waterways across our land and beyond.

Having dived around Scotland for the past 10 years she is trying to share an experience of what she has found and how to communicate this in a more powerful way. Receiving the J.D Ferguson Art Award has given her the opportunity to explore and create this body of work to highlight environmental issues.

A big problem is that by the time this waste is washing up on the shore, the damage is already done and we are only dealing with the fall out. As Janeanne says:

“What we’re doing — cleaning up our own mess — addresses just a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself”.

The work explores subconscious emotional memories and otherworldly fables and folklore. It also features found items that had a place, a function, a use, in one world, which are now abandoned, adrift and discarded, in another world in which they take on an ethereal distorted temporal beauty, dissolving and breaking down into the aquatic environment.

Anthropomorphism

The process of developing this work has come through observation and years of devoted water time, evolving study and exploration.

Janeanne has been lucky enough to find a partner, a soul mate, who was responsible for taking her on her first ever dive expedition to Egypt and diving Ras Mohammed. Those first few dives of breathing in air from a regulator underwater and trusting the heavy equipment kept her safe, and was her first step into another dimension to explore a remarkable water world.

Back home in Scotland, the need to wear dry suits and even more weight always made her feel awkward and anxious, checking dials and opening valves distracts from the whole experience and reason for being there. Her quest was to be in the moment, in the water, to lose herself. To focus on just herself and her surroundings. To meditate, breathe and become one.

So she learnt to freedive…

“To free dive is the most amazing sensation. Mastering your fear and hanging silently suspended in the blue/green of the sea, in gin- clear water, in glass-like conditions, is a spiritual experience.”

Janeanne combines her environmental underwater working practices to develop a new body of work based upon the intersection between scientific illustration, still life painting and technological advancements, experimenting with botanical imagery and the iconic visuals of fantasy to capturing organic and non-organic matter.

Janeanne seeks to discover moments, textures and stories. She fragments, manipulates and then reinvents the image into a new entity which resembles the original, but is, in fact, entirely contemporary. She rebuilds these new pieces of work, swaying between reality and surrealism in a moving composition.

“This work can’t be reproduced. It is completely unique. Capturing these moments while free diving in challenging conditions in the waters around Scotland isn’t easy. The current is playing with them and with me, the entire time – I am trying to capture something that’s never going to be in the same location, same light, same position, ever again.”

Janeanne goes on to say:

“Unlike surfing or any other action sport, free diving is not all about swimming fast or expelling a lot of energy. It’s more to do with clearing your mind, finding your internal flow state, completely relaxing, calming yourself, focusing on your breath and enjoying the trip… and anyone can do it.

Humans are one of the few species that share the mammalian dive reflex, same as seals, dolphins and whales. We (everyone) has the natural ability to hold your breath for two minutes. It’s very easy to learn, but to push over the two minute mark, that’s where the discipline and training comes into its own. Swimming regularly practicing your technique, a good clean diet and yoga helps.

Best of all, we have found that the Free diving has helped in other parts of our life especially with surfing or as a coping mechanism for dealing with stressful situations in general. It teaches you to always take a deep slow breath, step back and relax the heart rate. I would encourage everyone to do a free diving course after a few short training days to give you the tools and techniques to practice safely. It’s the best way to unlock your potential in a safe environment. I did my course with Steve Millard of www.learn2freedive.com.”

When Janeanne is not on her aquatic journeys, She works in partnership with her partner Will Beeslaar running Staunch Industries Design, a small independent design studio and lifestyle brand based in Leith, Edinburgh.

Above, below and beyond by Janeanne Gilchrist is at the J D Fergusson Gallery in Perth, Scotland from 18 November to 24 March 2018.


Catalogue photographs – Janeanne Gilchrist

Artist portrait photograph – Will Beeslaar

Creative Image Retouching – Will Beeslaar

All images are copyright with the artist www.janeannegilchristartist.com

Follow Janeanne’s work at:

 

Steve Millard is a leading UK based AIDA and PADI Freediving Instructor Trainer who is the owner of Apneists UK freediving group - www.freedivers.co.uk. Currently Press officer to the British Freediving Association and Performance mermaids lead coach.

Blogs

CCMI alumni learn to freedive from world record holder Tanya Streeter

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CCMI

CCMI’s 25th anniversary celebrations included Tanya Streeter leading a freediving clinic for CCMI alumni, giving Festival of Seas keynote address

To help celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI), the organisation enlisted the help of world record holding freediver and former Cayman resident Tanya Streeter. Invited to give the keynote speech at the annual Festival of Seas gala on 4 November 2023, Tanya eagerly agreed to also host a freediving clinic for young Caymanians who participated in education programmes at CCMI to give back to the Cayman community.

CCMI

Returning to the island where she was born and raised, Tanya led a half-day freediving clinic at Sunset House with the support of Sunset Divers. CCMI education programme alumni were invited to register, and 11 Caymanians, ages 16-26 representing a span of 10 years of taking part in the range of CCMI education programmes, attended the clinic. Some of the alumni participated in more than one CCMI programme over the years, and several are now employed in a related industry in the Cayman Islands, a testament to the importance of CCMI’s scholarship opportunities for Caymanian students.

CCMI

When asked what it meant to Tanya to host this freediving clinic in Grand Cayman, she said, “I cannot overstate what a huge personal impact it has on me to come back to have this opportunity to work with young Caymanians. They are associated with CCMI, so they know about the ocean and about how important ocean health is here for us. But to be able to connect with young people in a realm that I’m good at and is important to me, and to see them grow a little bit personally, is huge. It’s my absolute favourite thing to do!”

CCMI

Called ‘the world’s most perfect athlete’ in 2002 by Sports Illustrated, Tanya discovered her record-breaking gift for freediving in 1997, and in the following decade broke 10 world records, many of them previously held by men. To this day, she still holds the longest-standing world record in the sport, having dived on a single breath to a depth of 525ft/160m in the No Limits discipline off the coast of the Turks and Caicos Islands in August 2002. If anyone is qualified to help others begin their journey into freediving, Tanya Streeter is at the top of the list.

CCMI

The clinic started with a briefing and a meditation session, led by Tanya, to get the mind and body ready to freedive. Participants practiced meditation exercises, breathing techniques to help open the diaphragm and work the lungs and muscles, and important stretches. Next, Tanya gave an in-water safety briefing, which emphasized buddy pairs, proper in-water breathing techniques, and not pushing oneself too hard. In total the group spent about 90 minutes in the water in selected buddy pairs practicing freediving while under the watchful eye of CCMI’s in water safety teams. Tanya spent several moments with each freediver individually, observing them, and offering underwater support and topside coaching. After everyone had one-on-one coaching time with Tanya, the group snorkeled to the famous Sunset House mermaid statue, practicing their new, finely tuned freediving skills to dive to the mermaid (a depth of about 45-50 ft).

CCMI

Before the clinic, participants had a wide range of skills and experiences in the water. Tanya provided one-on-one coaching, speaking to each person’s comfort level. One participant said it felt like it was only the two of them in the ocean. Tanya’s constructive corrections in the water helped participants realize instant success in their form and dives!

CCMI

The following night, Tanya gave the keynote address to the more than 350 attendees at CCMI’s Festival of Seas gala at the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa. A passionate voice for the preservation of the marine environment, Tanya announced she would serve as a CCMI ambassador, focusing her energy on engaging the youth and young people in efforts to protect the ocean. She left attendees with the realization that the connection we have with the ocean is meaningful, and it paves the way to create protections and policies that will sustain the marine environment for the future.

CCMI

While Tanya enjoys using her platform to communicate about the importance of marine conservation, she is very passionate about working with youth and introducing them to the ocean through freediving. “To see those barriers people are facing and to push through and grow even in a hour, and hour and a half. That’s huge. It’s absolutely my favourite thing to do.”

For more information about CCMI, please visit www.reefresearch.org.

About CCMI

CCMI is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1998 to protect the future of coral reefs, envisioning a world with vibrant oceans and healthy coral reef ecosystems. We seek to be the Caribbean’s premier marine research institute by delivering cutting edge research, transforming conservation strategy and developing education programmes of excellence – discovering and promoting real solutions to declining ocean health. Our plan is to invigorate key species and understand key ocean processes that drive reef resilience. We support early career scientists who are INNOVATING ways to improve coral reef health. We are TRANSFORMING conservation strategy and work to inspire the CHANGE that is needed to achieve our mission. CCMI are PIONEERS in the region working to reverse the declines of coral reefs.

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Equipment

Oceanic+ Now Has Freedive Mode on Apple Watch Ultra

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Oceanic is thrilled to enhance your underwater adventures with the launch of Oceanic+ 2.0. This updated version of the app is filled with practical new features designed to enrich the diving experience.

Divers can now use their Apple Watch Ultra and Apple Watch Ultra 2 for freediving to 130 feet (40 meters). The new Freedive mode is packed with advanced features specific to training and freediving with custom alarms for target depth, max dive time, sequential depth, surface time, and max session time. For each alarm, the diver will receive both haptic and visual notifications. Additional features include surface heart rate tracking, heart rate training zones, surface data, and more.

Freedive mode includes a feature called “Stealth mode” which will automatically dim the screen while underwater. Stealth mode disables all haptics and alarms and reduces the display brightness by 90% while diving. This clever feature ensures freedivers won’t startle the fish during their dive. When back on the surface, the display automatically goes back to normal brightness, keeping all surface alarms intact to help fine-tune training.

With a simple click of the logbook, a detailed view of each individual dive made is shown. This includes the total session time, max dive time, max depth achieved, total number of dives, and coldest water temperature. Also seen is each dive on a map with a start and ending point.

While the Apple Watch Ultra is great for real-time critical data, Oceanic+ on iPhone offers a closer view of freedives in much more detail. All dives are automatically saved in the logbook, showing individual session statistics with detailed dive information, and an overall summary. This includes ascent and descent times, heart rate data from each session to provide a recovery assessment, relaxation improvement, and enhancing carbon dioxide recovery resistance.

In addition to Freediving Mode on Apple Watch Ultra, Oceanic+ has received many new enhancements for an enriched diving experience. The new “Activity Map” on Oceanic+ allows divers to visualize their dives on a global mat, showing hotspots with color-coded indicators for different modes, such as scuba or freedive. Divers can also enter beginning and ending tank pressure and tank type in their Oceanic+ logbook, as well as easily export all dives to their preferred logbook.

“Oceanic+ continues to expand its capabilities,” said Mike Huish, CEO of Huish Outdoors. “Now with Freedive mode on Apple Watch Ultra and the many additional improvements to the app including advanced photo and video color-correction, Oceanic+ improves the way we will share our underwater adventures.”

Planning for dives is now easier with Diver Generated Content™ which provides real-time water temperatures at various depths as reported by our diverse diving community. The new Weight Planner assists divers in determining the right amount of ballast needed for their dive.

The updated logbook allows divers to instantly share their dive stories. Dive photos and videos taken with the Oceanic+ Dive Housing are now seamlessly integrated into their logs, allowing divers to overlay their dive profile alongside visuals to tell a complete story.

Oceanic+ 2.0 also includes advanced editing capabilities for photos and videos taken with the patent-pending Oceanic+ Dive Housing. The free version includes automatic color correction for both photos and videos, while the premium version allows access to advanced editing – adjust blue or green color dominance in images and videos; utilize keyframes to make color corrections throughout videos; and the ability to apply color correction to imported media, even if taken with other devices.

The Oceanic+ app is subscription-based and includes a free version and a paid subscription for more advanced photo and dive computer features as well as freediving. The Oceanic+ app can be downloaded here.

About Oceanic

Founded in 1972 by industry pioneer Bob Hollis, Oceanic is a global dive leader committed to providing modern, reliable, accessible, and easy-to-use dive equipment to recreational divers so they can focus on what matters most: exploring the underwater world and appreciating the wonders of marine life. For over 50 years this philosophy has been woven into everything Oceanic does and is the foremost reason the company is considered a best-in-class, recreational dive brand. Recreational divers of all experience levels benefit from the large selection of products like regulators, computers, and BCDs for all types of diving, as well as masks, snorkels, fins, bags, and accessories for watersport newcomers and veterans alike. Oceanic is one of Huish Outdoors’ premier dive brands. To learn more, please visit oceanicworldwide.com.

About Huish Outdoors

Since 2011, Huish Outdoors has been passionate about the outdoors and connecting people to their adventure dreams. Huish Outdoors unites the world’s best diving and outdoor brands – Atomic Aquatics®, BARE®, BARE Exowear, Hollis®, Oceanic®, Oceanic+, Stahlsac®, Suunto®, and Zeagle® – all under one roof, showcasing the best there is in outdoor sports from deep trenches to snowy peaks. From research to development, the Huish Outdoor brands combine leading design with advanced materials and proven technologies to define what’s next in diving. In partnership with retail partners and distributors across the globe, the company is working together to grow the above- and below-water adventures industries. For more information, please visit huishoutdoors.com.

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