Amy Sharrocks’ work is both live and lived. It endures not in the physical, but in the imagination, through the force of powerful life enhancing and life affirming ideas and acts.
In the artist’s own words, her work is found ‘in the architecture of a moment that is made between people’. She invites participants in her live art performances to walk, swim or stumble with her on a journey. She gathers overlooked communities of people and through workshops, talking, sharing and taking part in some physical act, she ‘ties them together’, binding them through their shared experience.
In her ongoing piece, A Tale of Two Cities, she and a stranger residing in Stuttgart arrange to speak at a scheduled time. The two strangers, separated by hundreds of miles, guide the other around their city, describing what they see as a spectator and a travelling companion. The rules of conversation are restrictive: no road or place names can be used in order to give primacy to each participant’s emotional and visual interpretation of the city. It is an urban drift during which a third, imagined city comes to exist, evoking an intangible artwork described in the words of the imagination and not prejudiced, confined or qualified by other men’s labels. [more]
The joint or community endeavour to create an artwork runs throughout Sharrocks’ practice. She is fascinated by forces which unite. One such force, by which we are all bound, is water. Her most well known and perhaps most evocative work is SWIM, made in 2007. She mustered fifty people in swimming costumes and hats and swam with them across London through all available waterways from Tooting Bec Lido to Hampstead Heath Ponds. In doing so, she challenged the Londoner to think more carefully about the waterways under our feet that refuse to be totally subdued by roads or the urban sprawl. While the concept behind this piece appeals to a primordial and universal appreciation and love of water, its documentation in the visual realm brings with it a lightness of touch, a humour and a certain Britishness. There cannot be many world capitals where 50 sodden people could be persuaded to traipse across the city in bathers in the name of a creating an intangible artwork.
Her ambition to reclaim our waterways and in particular ‘our river’ will not stop there. Along the way she will pose difficult questions, about ‘the access and ownership of natural resources’ in a dramatically simple but poetic way. She is planning a swim across the Thames from Tower Fields to Tower Beach for 100 people, or as she describes them ‘a shoal of human fish in a sudden aquatic community’. River traffic will stop and the bathers will swim or rather, be drawn diagonally across the river. She is utterly right, why should a celebrity in the form of David Walliams be allowed to swim in the Thames and not a peaceful group of artistically minded protestors? [more]
She is also creating a Museum of Water (ongoing) comprised of carefully labelled vials, bottles, jars and pipettes of water donated by members of the public which have particular resonance from the donor. Displayed in traditional wooden display cases carefully arranged in busy pedestrian streets, the Museum aims to become a catalogue of people’s memories and associations with particular volumes of water. [more]
Listen to a Walking Talking interview to find out how Amy uses walking (and swimming) to sculpt our urban life here [more]
Although she considers herself a mere facilitator, and the participants the ones who create the work, the force of her personality is the genesis and the catalyst of her ever growing body of work.