Think underwater photography, and perhaps images of tropical fish, divers, wrecks and corals spring to mind.
One look at the astounding works by photographer Emma Critchley however, and all preconceptions are obliterated as her underwater pictures take photography to the next level.
Of particular delight is The Fear of Falling exhibition, composed in collaboration with Sophie Lewis.
As the woman, almost ethereal, reaches out in her period dress, one is struck by shivers that are both terrifying and curious in their origin.
According to the artists, far from being a traumatic image, submergence brings humankind closer to the moment in which we live, as:
“Being in water immediately engages us to the present. The silky fluid that contains and cocoons us awakens the surfaces of our bodies.
Boundaries are transcended as the connection between self and environment appears seamless and indivisible. Expansiveness offers itself immediately.
Our awareness is heightened and intensified. Breath becomes audible, visual. Tangible. Our vision, a key sense in placing ourselves in space, is altered and we must connect to other senses to locate our physicality in this new and radically different surrounding.
Buoyancy calms and placates the nervous system, enabling both body and mind to access a stiller place of being. One that is less attached to the material world. One that moves beyond time and doubt.
An immersed sanctuary and haven. A delightful and immense suspension. An escape to, not from, the present.”
The images then, while vintage in appearance, provide a challenging visual – both in terms of photography, and of our own appreciation of the concept of submergence.