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Ocean Adventure: The Photography of Helen Walne

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." –Loren Eiseley


Pencil drawing of seaweed

Hi Friends,

Today I'd love to share the work of another amazing artist with you! Although it is winter where she lives, for me in the Northern Hemisphere, beach season just arrived and I'm reveling in these scenes of ocean magic. Helen Walne is a photographer who captures underwater views off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. Let's dive into her work (pun intended, always):



Light streaming through a kelp forest with schools of fish
Streaming Life in the Forest by Helen Walne

In her own words:

"I started taking underwater photographs armed with a terrible action camera and a fear of the slightest ruffling of the water's surface."

"I grew up on a farm away from the sea, and I've always been so envious of those people who are so comfortable with the sea. And for me it's a process. I'm just a human trying to really find my way around water, and be in it and really appreciate it."

"Now, a few years and a clutch of cameras later, I head out almost every day into the cold sea off Cape Town to find tiny creatures and swoon over the life, beauty, and light that lives in the kelp forests. Sometimes I feel like a pirate (albeit a slightly out-of-shape one) diving down into the not-so-deep and bringing up treasures to the surface to share with others."


Pink jellyfish floating underwater
Bloom by Helen Walne

"Many of my pictures are taken in water that is less than 6m deep--you don't have to be Jacques Cousteau to experience the ocean's magic."

"There's something so immersive about the ocean, not just physically but mentally as well. It just takes you somewhere else."

"It's not just underwater. It's under wonder."


Left to right: Salty Spirit II, Soft Reminder, I Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts, by Helen Walne (click to expand)


"When I'm 950 thousand years old, I'm probably going to be one of those nice portly ladies, who wear those kind of floral caps and will probably swim every day. I'll just be like the happiest little seal in the world."


Woman snorkeling through a kelp forest with a flashlight, illuminating fan coral
Fan Girl by Helen Walne

When I was young, I loved this game called "Secret Paths to the Sea." My favorite part about it was that it took the player through all these beautiful and tucked-away sea vistas, some of them underwater. Helen's art takes me back to the feeling of that game--only even better because I finally get to see the real thing instead of the 90's graphics version. 😂 These images allow us to go on a fantasy adventure without ever actually leaving Earth or present day. They are full of dynamic mystery, delicacy, power, and romance. The immersive quality of the ocean that she describes is perfectly expressed in her work, and I'm so glad that she's chosen to share her "treasures" with us.



Meanwhile, the Studio Assistant is satisfied with this level of ocean adventuring:


A brown rabbit sniffing a stuffed octopus toy

Until next time!

Kendra



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