Sally Waterman

'The Waves' (1996)

12x16” Black & white photographs with hand-written quotations written underneath (28 in series)


"Now is life very solid, or very shifting?" (Virginia Woolf, Diary, 1929)

As a modernist text, 'The Waves' dispenses with the traditional forms of the realist novel. Instead, the six characters establish themselves by their own thought patterns, and it is through their fragmented streams of consciousness that we trace their development from childhood to middle age. By finding a poetic language to echo the mood of the novel itself, we follow three of the characters lives that represent different facets of the artists’ personality, recalled through a fragmentary sequence of image text works. Utilising carefully selected quotations, their contrasting city and rural experiences are in dispersed with recurring motifs that are associated with each character; such as Rhoda’s petals that float in her basin, which symbolise ships on the ocean, or the puddle that she cannot physically or mentally transverse.

By identifying with Woolf’s pervading sense of English melancholy, Waterman’s visual interpretation transforms this metaphorical text into an autobiographical commentary on her apprehensive relocation to London, amid nostalgia for her childhood home on the Isle of Wight. Indeed, the "…roaring waters upon which we build our crazy platforms" form the underlying rhythm of the sea in the novel and refers to the analogy drawn between life's intensities and periods of lull and the rise and fall of the waves.

Exhibition History
The Waves, Dimbola Lodge, Isle of Wight (solo)
Similar Differences, Coastal Arts League, Half Moon Bay, California, USA
Similar Differences, Ostholstein Museum, Eutin, Germany
To the Lighthouse, Michael West Gallery, Quay Arts, Isle of Wight
Shifting Horizons: Women's Landscape Photography Now, Midland Arts Centre, Birmingham
Shifting Horizons: Women's Landscape Photography Now, Derby Museum & Art Gallery
Shifting Horizons: Women's Landscape Photography Now, School of Art, Burslem, Stoke on Trent
Waves, Journey, Voyage, Special Collections and Archives, Goldsmiths, University of London