About Rachael

Rachael Dickens makes work using a wide variety of materials .

She trained at Goldsmiths College in the late 1980s in Fine Art Textiles.

Since 2017 her work has explored the plight of refugees. Using scraps of clothing found on her local beach, she stitches wild sea scapes full of movement and uncertainty.  These found cloth pieces and the soft cloth boats are responding to the journey that these sea washed remnants of fabric have made and the distance they have travelled. The boats are fragile and vulnerable, but also symbols of hope.

The theme of families crossing treacherous water extends into ceramic work.  Little half wrecked boats filled with delicate flowers,  branches of trees studded with unlikely fruit, and miniature dioramas inhabited by golden votives ; precious belongings or memories.

Rachael swims outdoors all year round.

From 2009 to 2015 work was inspired by summer holidays spent visiting lidos all around the UK, wild camping in her VW van, swimming and walking with friend and fellow artist Viv Yankah.

Swimming at Tooting Bec Lido from 2006 -2008 then at

Brockwell Park Lido until 2014 .

She now swims most days in the North Sea off the East Kent Coast.

Paintings

When I moved from London to live at the seaside the only thing I really missed was Brockwell Lido and my Lido friends.

When I started to paint I realised that I missed the colour of the water at the lido, the water on the Kent coast is often muddy and I struggled to love it. But the huge sky and ever changing, soft, calming, natural colours soon beguiled me.  Initially the colour pallet was so different and everything so alien that I moved away from two dimensional work temporarily and made work from found objects.

Beachcombing

In 2014 I moved to the Kent Coast, near Herne Bay. I bought a little wooden bungalow with big ideas about refurbishment and started swimming in the sea. At first I was unsettled by not being able to see the bottom, the sea was murky,  bumpy and TIDAL! I just wanted to get up in the morning and go for a dip;  on some mornings to my dismay the sea had gone away! However, with time I grew to love the cycle of the tide, it’s push and pull and  began to gather up things that it brought back to show me. Stones, shells, sea glass, driftwood, scraps of fabric, plastic, metal and more. Treasures from who knows where! I love it’s constantly changing edges, the morphing skyline, the light, the colours, the clouds, the geese and gulls shrieking overhead. I feel so small in the water yet somehow very connected.

Ceramics

In 2009 I started swimming all year round at Brockwell Lido, a fantastic example of 1930s architecture. Brockwell, along with many other outdoor pools across the country, from Gourock in Scotland to The Jubilee pool in Cornwall, inspired my ceramic work. I love the shapes of the fountains, the details in the sweeping steps and the beautiful diving boards.

Swimming Lanes

Every year for eight years, my friend Viv and I went on lido hops across Britain in my camper van. These paintings are a product of those trips. We would go on long walks and visit every Lido, river, lake and waterfall we could find. I imagined long swimming lanes through the wooded landscapes, my perfect swim. I began to create swimming lanes in urban environments, down country lanes, on busy London streets, in parks etc. The small pieces are painted straight on to photographs that I took for this purpose.