Alli Harmer Williams, known by her creative name Swimscape, is an artist whose work reflects a deep commitment to her passion for capturing the essence of humanity at sea. Alli's artistic voyage began with innate talent and a familial connection to the world of art. Her early experiences with drawing and watercolours laid the foundation for her creative endeavours. However, life's responsibilities led her away from her artistic pursuits for several decades.
Alli with Sami, the first of her 4 children, in 1980
In a remarkable turn of events, Alli’s artistic renaissance began when she met Steven, they fell in love and moved to Brighton to get married in 2019. This transition marked a pivotal moment in her life as she embraced the opportunity to explore her artistic talents fully.
Alli and Steven on their 4th date at a yoga retreat in Italy in 2017
Alli embarked on a diverse artistic journey experimenting with various mediums and styles within Brighton. Her introduction to oil painting under the guidance of the masterful Brighton portrait artist Allan Ramsay inspired a transformation in her new career. She dived into portraiture, displaying exceptional talent and dedication.
Alli’s very first oil painting - of artist model Ariana at her first oil painting class with Allan Ramsay. (Painted in about 2 hours at the studio in the Phoenix, Brighton)
The global pandemic prompted Alli to seek online instruction, leading her to Alex Tzavaras, an exceptional painter of people. His methodical approach and ability to articulate complex concepts resonated with her, significantly enhancing her consistency and technique.
Two of many practice pieces completed by Alli under Alex Tzavaras’ tuition: online courses and 1-2-1 coaching, painting from live models over Zoom.
Alli primarily works with oils, often on linen and identifies as a realist painter. Her focus on capturing the essence of individuals particularly sea swimmers, from unconventional angles exemplifies her unique approach. She seeks to convey the distinctive gestures and deep connections that define human interaction, often by painting subjects viewed from the back.
Her artwork includes the widely celebrated "Highly Visible Women" and "Sidney and the Sea” which reflect her passion for portraying the human experience and the sea's enduring allure.
Highly Visible Women - Giclée Prints available
In 2023, Alli and Steven hosted her first Artists Open House, an endeavour that exceeded her expectations as most of her originals and limited edition gicleé prints found appreciative homes.
The drawing room featuring the large original piece ‘Pool to Pier’ and the sea-inspired ceramics by potter Simon Mathews at Musicpots. The perfect pairing of creativity!
Alli’s artistic influences include learning from the masters in exhibitions by Winslow Homer, her ultimate sea-people hero!
Winslow Homer unusually for a white American man, comfortably off, had visible empathy for the plight of newly ‘freed’ slaves and painted many pieces depicting slaves now employed under barely improved conditions by the people who previously owned them.
Alli loves this piece by Winslow Homer. You can see the influence in her ‘Sidney and the Sea’.
Part of her training continues to be creating ‘master transcripts’ to understand the techniques of other artists, past and living. Alli enjoys courses with other artists, including with Morag Caister, winner of 2022 Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year. Morag’s style is quite different and so there is much Alli feels she can learn from this difference. Growing and developing is vital to Alli’s approach, to life and to her creativity.
‘Hard to say’ by Morag Caister (Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year winner 2022)
Sussex Art Club in Bond Street Brighton is where Alli goes weekly to practice drawing and painting from life models. She enjoys the company and the exchanges of artistic insight.
Bettie is a favourite of Alli’s – this large piece was completed over three weeks in sittings of 3 hours at a time.
What drives Alli’s painting is a profound connection to people and the sea. Her daily swims in the Brighton sea regardless of the weather and her commitment to The Brighton Swimming Club, infuse her work with camaraderie, resilience, and the joy of human interaction.
Alli finishing the September 2023 Brighton Pier to Pier Race under the Palace Pier in Brighton
Her website is aptly named Swimscape and reflects her dedication to capturing these elements through her art. Alli Harmer Williams’ approach is a testament to the enduring power of creativity and the remarkable impact art can have on the human experience.
" I love the camaraderie, the anxiety about the waves, huddling in our dry robes afterwards, and just everything about it. "
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye In League with the Night
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye is a British artist and writer acclaimed for her enigmatic portraits of fictitious people. This exhibition brings together around 70 works from 2003 to the present day in the most extensive survey of the artist’s career to date.
Do come along ...
Artist Open House
We opened our home to visitors for the first time for Artist Open Houses 2023. It was fabulous! We really enjoyed it and will definitely do it again next year. This is a big thank you to everyone who came along and made it such an enjoyable success - THANK YOU! XX