Skip navigation

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Bathers_Cottesloe_View1.jpgBathers, Perspective View, Shaumyika Sharma


n. Slang word for ‘bathing suit’ (Australian)

n. A person swimming or spending time in the water (British)


This proposal was submitted to the Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea open call for artists. The title of this work refers both to the Aussie slang for swimsuit or bathing suit, and to a number of late 19th/ early 20th Century paintings entitled ‘Bathers’ or ‘The Bathers’ by artists such as Renoir and Cezanne. Intended to be a celebration of the act of wearing bathers and the act of ‘bathing’ (or swimming), this art work is also meant to create a somewhat disturbing vision by presenting 35 identical female figures in ‘bathers’ in the form of mannequins (rarely seen in an exterior setting).

Bathers_Cottesloe_View2.jpgBathers, Perspective View, Shaumyika Sharma

As a woman, the experience of wearing bathers can bring with it both anxiety and joy. Women’s bodies are often objectified and/or judged. Both the act of exposing our bodies and choosing not to can bring these societal issues to the surface. A woman’s autonomy over her own body is frequently questioned and the recent burkini ban 
in France is just one example of disregard for women’s personal choices. On the other hand, women also often associate the act of putting on bathers with the joy of being immersed in a body of water, experiencing nature and feeling renewed.

cottesloeseasculptures_detail1Bathers, Detail Elevations, Shaumyika Sharma

The artwork is comprised of 35 identical mannequins in 35 identical poses, wearing 35 identical swimsuits ‘boxed’ within scaffolding. Each mannequin could be thought to represent roughly 100 million women as there are roughly 3.5 billion women in the world today. However, the mannequins are intentionally a ‘gold’ colour-a colour associated with the idea of the beach (sun, sand, tanning etc), while not being linked to any particular race. Within the scaffolding, there is one empty frame, intended for people to pose for photographs should they wish to, or create their own interpretation of the work in some way. Media depictions of women tend toward sameness and the promotion of an ‘ideal’ female body. By literalizing this tendency, ‘Bathers’ attempts to replace body-shaming with liberation and satire.

CottesloeSeaSculptures_Model.jpgBathers, Detail Model, Shaumyika Sharma