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Story: Inspired by Wes Anderson’s signature aesthetic, photographer Soo Burnell has brought the UK’s historic public swimming baths to life in her latest collection, Poolside.

The pastel palette, restrained composition and strong sense of symmetry lend a dream-like quality to the images; human figures appear as if suspended in time, lost in their own thoughts. “I wanted to show the beauty of the architecture and minimise modern elements,” says Soo. “I love the geometry of the tiles, the lines on the bottom of the pool and the typography such as that on the ‘Deep End’ signs.”

Viewers are invited to dwell upon the function of these pools both as relics of the Victorian era and as the communal hubs they can provide for communities today.

Each space has its own identity, she continues. “Dalry Swim Centre was buzzing the day I photographed there, with lots of children chatting and laughing waiting for their swimming lessons; it felt like a real centre point to the community. Others were more serene and calm.”

By showcasing these spaces, Soo hopes to encourage people to visit their local baths. “I’d never seen the Portobello Turkish Baths in my home city of Edinburgh. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I walked in.”

“We’re so lucky to have these pools are still in use across the UK. Maybe these photographs will remind people how lovely they are.”

See the exhibition at Saorsa Art Gallery in Edinburgh from the 14-28 June 2019.

Photos by @sooukdotcom,
Words by Fiona Reid

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