Swimming Pools in Illustration and on Book Covers

Swimming without water: Buckets, bins and bathtubs by Charlotte Bates and Kate Moles, 9th August 2022

Swimming stories by Adele Prince, 9th August 2022

In deep: At one with the water, with all that entails, Rebecca Olive, 9th August 2022

She is peeling off her wet swimsuit when the yummy mummies arrive. Glossy and stick thin, they swiftly surround her, talking loudly and across each other, their voices filling the fuggy silence of the changing room, completely oblivious to her presence. Sam feels the brief equilibrium gained by her twenty-length swim evaporating like mist. It has taken her an hour here to remember that she hates these places: the apartheid of hard bodies, the corners where she and the other lumpy people try to hide. She has walked by this place a million times and wondered whether to go in. She realizes that these are the kind of women who leave her feeling worse than if she’d never come in at all.

“Are you going to have time for coffee afterward, Nina? I thought we could go to that lovely café that opened up behind Space NK. The one with the poke bowls.”

“Love to. Got to be away by eleven, though. I’m taking Leonie to the orthodontist. Ems?”

“Oh, God, yes. I need some girl time!”

These are women with designer athleisure, perfectly cut hair, and time for coffee. These are women whose kitbags bear designer labels, rather than her fake Marc Jacobs knock-off, and have husbands called Rupe or Tris, who carelessly toss envelopes containing hefty bonuses onto shining Conran Shop kitchen tables. These women drive huge off-roaders that never get muddy, double-park their way through their day and demand babyccinos for querulous children from harassed baristas, tutting when they are not made to their exact specification. They do not lie awake until 4 a.m. worrying about electricity bills, or feel sick about greeting their new boss with his shiny suit and his barely disguised disdain each morning.

They do not have husbands who stay in their pajama bottoms till midday and look hunted whenever their wives mention maybe having another go at that job application.

from the opening to Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes (2023)

What’s the most famous painting of a swimming pool? The first painting I think of is the one by David Hockney, famous partly because it sold for an astronomical sum at auction.

Hockney has painted a whole series featuring swimming pools. Here are a few more.

Source: Artsy, Inc.
Anna By The Pool.’ (1952) Zdzisław Ruszkowski
Richard Scarry’s Chipmunk’s ABC by Roberta Miller, illustrated by Richard Scarry (1963) race-swimming
P.O. Engelhard (1872-1924), German illustrator. Dachshund Boys swimming postcard, 1923
Swiss illustrator Moritz Kennel for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 1975
‘Leandra by the Blue Pool.’ (1912) Derwent Lees

On paper, things look fine. Sam Dennon recently inherited significant wealth from his uncle. As a respected architect, Sam spends his days thinking about the family needs and rich lives of his clients. But privately? Even his enduring love of amateur astronomy is on the wane. Sam has built a sustainable-architecture display home for himself but hasn’t yet moved into it, preferring to sleep in his cocoon of a campervan. Although they never announced it publicly, Sam’s wife and business partner ended their marriage years ago due to lack of intimacy, leaving Sam with the sense he is irreparably broken.

Now his beloved uncle has died. An intensifying fear manifests as health anxiety, with night terrors from a half-remembered early childhood event. To assuage the loneliness, Sam embarks on a Personal Happiness Project:

1. Get a pet dog

2. Find a friend. Just one. Not too intense.




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