Free-dive into artist’s underwater world

Image: Lexi Laine

An exhibition taking place in a tiny gallery in the historic Lanes of Brighton, UK, can transport the viewer to extraordinary watery worlds.

That is the hope of free-diver and artistic photographer Lexi Laine who spoke about her work at a preview on 24 June.

Laine's ethereal images are shot underwater in stunning locations, from the cenote limestone caves of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, to tidal pools off England’s Cornish coast. They are taken using the natural light below the water’s surface, and explore themes of freedom, vulnerability, and the strength of women.

“One of my intentions is to demonstrate the feeling of being underwater, and how beautiful it is,” said Lexi. “To transport the viewer into these images, and hopefully they can find their own fear and fearlessness.”

“I have a lifelong love of water, a lifelong love of art and photography. I love the way light plays under the water.”

Lexi Laine, artistic photographer

A member of Brighton free-diving club No Tanks, Laine has been shooting underwater for seven years, and says she stopped using scuba diving equipment a while ago, so her hobby helps her career.

“The model can’t use scuba equipment,” she reasons, “so I decided we needed to go through it together – the breathing, the recovery.”

Laine works with world class free-divers, but says it is also important that her models can move gracefully in the water – while holding a serene expression.

“A lot of my ideas come from being playful,” she told the audience. “I have a lifelong love of water, a lifelong love of art and photography. I love the way light plays under the water.”

Laine's photography takes more than a nod to classical art, with inspiration coming from the Baroque and Rococo periods, and “how artists use light to bring drama and tell stories.” She combines this evocative visual storytelling with her passion to protect and conserve the underwater world.

"I see how the oceans have changed," she says. "When you're in the water you see it more than other people."

Artistic photographer and free-diver Lexi Laine. Image: Lexi Laine

This has prompted a partnership with Hendrick’s Gin and Project Seagrass to raise awareness about the conservation of seagrass meadows and their critical role in providing food and habitat for marine wildlife.

Asked what it is she loves most about water, Lexi says, “Water allows me to escape from everything, especially underwater. The particular sounds - I love the feeling - it’s pure escapism. Moving without gravity. It’s almost like you’re flying.”

Lexi Laine’s photography features in Submerge, an exhibition showcasing work by six artists, taking place at Paxton+Glew gallery until 17 July.

Image: Lexi Laine