An Aussie’s view of bathing on Hampstead Heath

The Kentish Towner – 7 July 2014

‘Im on my holidays in London, spending two weeks with my sister-in-law, her partner and child in Kentish Town. I enjoy pretending to be a local, getting to know the rhythms of the community, and allowing the layers of my surroundings to reveal themselves.’

‘Being an Aussie, I enjoy swimming.’

‘Ive got my mini micro fibre travelling towel and my budgie smugglers tucked under my arm and am heading for the mens bathing at one of a series of spring-fed ponds fringing the northern edge of the park. From a distance it looks quaint, inviting and very cold…’

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Taking the Waters by Caitlin Davies and Ruth Corney review

The Guardian – 20 May 2012

‘Swimming here, writes Davies, is “magical, even biblical” and the book, with its archive photos of men performing swallow dives, and women winter swimmers cavorting in the snow (the Times in the 19th century noted these winter bathers were “an inoffensive kind of lunatic”), is the work of a passionate hobbyist…’

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Ruth’s prizewinning exhibition of images to treasure

Ham & High – 21 January 2008

‘Wedding photographers bear a heavy responsibility – to capture images to treasure at an event which can’t be restaged. Dartmouth Park photographer Ruth Corney wears this “hat” as lightly, indeed gaily, as her many others. Her picture of a bride in a ’50s outfit, chatting to her aunties aboard a boat on the Thames, has won the Lauderdale House Photography Competition…’

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Taking the Plunge – exhibition review

Time Off – 7 January 2008

From kite-flying in spring and summer picnics on the top of Parliament Hill, to autumnal rambles and wintry dips in the lido, Hampstead Heath is a year-round refuge for nature-starved city slickers. “Taking the Plunge”, a new exhibition of photographs by Ruth Corney, captures the life of the Heath through the seasons and is on display at nearby Lauderdale House.

The title refers to Corney’sfocus on the 791-acre siteswatering holes at the art deco lido and the traditionally segregated ladies, mens and mixed ponds. Among the details captured, the artist picks out the architecture and wonderful reflective qualities of the water at the lido, and the unique stillness of the ladies bathing ponds, from among the 50 or so images.

A shot of a subdued, snow-dusted lido is also particularly striking, while a summer downpour on the women’s swimming corner, and the Christmas Day race at the mens pond illustrate the all-weather commitment of Hampstead Heath swimming fans.

“Women & Health wish to extend their deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks to Ruth Corney for her generous donation of £855.00 to the Housebound Scheme. The money that Ruth raised has gone towards subsidising 70 home visits, where isolated women in the community will be visited by a practitioner and given treatments in their home. The receipt of this money will enable Women & Health to expand this service by 40%. We would also like to thank Metro Imaging for their contribution.”

Claire Floyd (Centre manager, Women & Health)