Art Words by Soo Burnell

Soo Burnell is an Edinburgh-based photographer. Her Poolside series focuses on her passion for the architecture of historic swimming pools, highlighting the geometry, scale and dreamy palette of these dramatic spaces. Her fascination with water, colour and composition led to her newest work, After Swimming 

After Swimming Tyninghame (2020) by Soo Burnell

Two years ago I began photographing Victorian-era swimming pools in Edinburgh. One pool led to another and my Poolside series, showing the architecture of these beautiful spaces, was born. I shot pools across the UK and in Paris. Exhibitions were lined up in London, New York and Berlin. And then Covid-19 happened. Pools were closed and exhibitions and shoots were cancelled.

With everything that was happening in the world, I wanted to get outside, to reconnect with and appreciate nature. Also, I had felt such a sense of nostalgia when photographing decades-old indoor swimming pools that I wanted to explore that idea outdoors, remembering the feeling of carefree summer holidays as a child, when the sun always seemed to shine.

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Once it was possible to travel again, I chose the beautiful beach at Tyninghame on the Berwickshire coast as the location for the shoot. It’s a wonderfully open beach, with a long walk to reach it. I wanted to try to capture its sense of space and freedom, transferring my usual composition style and muted colour palette to an outdoor setting. I replaced the geometric lines of the architecture I usually photograph with the natural lines of the beach and the horizon and those created when the sea meets the sand. 

I wanted to capture that sense of nostalgia that comes from spending time on a British beach – the stillness, the wash of the water, the occasional cry of a gull overhead – and a feeling of peace, calm and tranquillity. To me, this photograph feels like an escape to another time. 

Looking for more? Check out Art Words by Emily Powell