© Hannah Maule-Ffinch.
Now on sale as part of a historic NFT collection, Maule-Ffinch’s touching portrait captures two women who found liberation in cold water swimming during the pandemic
For many people, a stirring sense of community, and finding new ways to connect with others, was what kept their heads above water in the first year of the pandemic. Such are the pillars of one of Hannah Maule-Ffinch’s Edition365 images. In it, two women – Emma and Emma – stand side by side in an Oxfordshire lake on a freezing cold day in December 2020.
Cold water swimming is a daily ritual for the pair – largely due to its visceral benefits, they say, for their mental and physical health. “Emma and Emma in this picture have an amazing bond,” says Maule-Ffinch. “[During the pandemic] they found joy and respite in being able to swim together; they told me it’s what got them through such difficult times.”
The image is one of two by Maule-Ffinch that are part of Edition365, a vast and immersive virtual exhibition comprising 365 works that document the events between 11 March 2020 and 10 March 2021. All of the artworks in the exhibition are available to buy as individual NFTs via ART3.io on OpenSea.
Maule-Ffinch’s contribution to Edition365 is part of a wider ongoing series, titled Wild Swimming, which has seen the photographer travel all around the UK documenting cold water swimmers. “I am really interested in the bond and community it creates,” she explains. “The beautiful and diverse characters I meet; the strong feelings of joy, elation, liberation and empowerment it brings out in people.”
In the four years she’s been working on the project, most people Maule-Ffinch has met have offered a unique story as to why they do it. Whether facing cancer, menopause, or loneliness during lockdown, they bond with one another over a deep-rooted belief that nature is restorative; that connecting with the natural world is vital to our survival.
“The project has been an inspiring journey,” says Maule-Ffinch. Namely, “[the portrait going on sale] shows the resilience of (wo)mankind… And it brings to light the importance of freedom, particularly in a world that suddenly lost just that.”