When a man makes his life at sea,
He is no longer fit to live on land.
At sea, life is different.
Time doesn’t move hour to hour, but mood to moment.
They live by the currents, plan by the tides,
And follow the sun.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds you in its net forever.
Alistair Swatridge was born in 1959, in Dorset England. At 6 years old, he had already set his dream of going to sea and as soon as he was able, his dreams became reality. He spent over 30 years in a Naval career that took him around the world and finally attain Command of his own ship.
Unfortunately in his early career an horrific and traumatic event left him mentally scared, it was left untreated, in order to fulfil his dream of getting a command, but it would resurface again much later and would finally blight and end his much loved career and ruin much of his personal life over the years.
At only 46, he was forced to medically retire much earlier than he had ever contemplated or planned. Following a very brief introduction to local politics, he decided life ashore was not for him and he and his wife moved afloat once more to continuously cruise the rivers and canals of the United Kingdom in their Narrowboat.
After more than 5 years of cruising the British network, his health was still an issue so he and his wife moved their boat to the quieter and more sedate surroundings of the Shannon and Erne Waterways in Ireland. They have totally fallen in love with the people, and it’s beautiful landscape and it’s less crowded, more sedate lifestyle and quiet surroundings that Ireland has to offer. They have finally dropped their anchor and whilst still cruisng the waterways in the summer, have finally made their home on the border with Northern Ireland, using this as a base to explore more of the beautiful island and its wonderful coastline.
He started painting after he retired. He is self taught, and experimented with watercolours before moving to Acrylics. It was only recently in 2017, that the opportunity has existed for him to be able to take his painting more seriously. In moving ashore during the winter months, it has allowed him more room to expand and develop a personal style with his Acrylic paints that reflect his often dark state.
“I started painting because I wanted to reproduce scenes that were in my head, scenes of my fondest memories. Every picture, whether it’s made from a photograph or by visiting the beautiful locations, bring me back, to the sensations I have associated with the sea. The pictures I paint take me back to being part again of those sounds of the waves and the smell of sea air. In its power, and it’s many faces; from the peace and tranquility of becalmed waters to the utter fear you experience in ferocious waves and hurricane seas.
That really is the joy I get from painting, whether it’s from a photograph I may have taken or from a sketch I may have made, the experience and sensations associated with the occasion, are totally relived with every brush stroke. That feeling of being part of the painting, part of the surroundings, is there every time and makes every painting become a part of me.
It was therefore this feeling of being drawn back to the sea, that I believe got me painting. A call of the sea, that I was missing. A desire to “reproduce my life’s comfort blanket” to be again part of the sea I love.
He has sold and exhibited his works Internationally including, Australia, France, Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States of America. He is a Associate Member of Visual Artists Ireland.