Swimming Home
2-10 June

"Life is only worth living because we hope it will get better and we’ll all get home safely." 

Whitstable Biennale 2018 featured new screenings, installations, performances, walks, workshops, talks, readings and events, created by some of the UK’s most exciting artists. Our programme included a large number of new works made especially for the festival, by artists at an important early point in their career.

We took our title for the 2018 edition of the festival from the groundbreaking book Swimming Home by acclaimed writer Deborah Levy. Beautifully written, this subtle and haunting Man Booker shortlisted work tells a story from multiple viewpoints and several generations. Dark undercurrents flow through the book, and the line 'Life is only worth living because we hope it will get better and we’ll all get home safely' becomes key to this experimental work where a sense of home and belonging is unstable and elusive.

Many of the works in this year’s festival also touch directly or indirectly on ideas connected to global movement, exile, how we find ‘home’ and the instability of language and identity.


Swimming Home, Deborah Levy
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (Reading), 2018. Photo: Lou Lou Sainsbury

sand-worm, Libita Clayton
Libita Clayton, Sandworm, 2018. Photo: Rosie Lonsdale

Summercamp, Josephine Callaghan

The Trees That YieldHannah Lees


Rebecca Lennon, No One Has A Face To Look At Us, 2018. Photo: Rosie Lonsdale

Slow Violence, Kihlberg & Henry

The Vase in the Container, Kris Lock & Josephine Sweeney

The Syrian, Leigh Clarke

I am one with the people, Phoebe Cunningham

amore tremor, Sophie Lee

Restaurant, Patrick Cole
Patrick Cole, Restaurant, 2018.Photo: Lou Lou Sainsbury

School of Evolution, Water Bodies
Water Bodies, School of Evolution, 2018. Photo: Rosie Lonsdale

The Preacher of Whitstable, Phoebe Cunningham

A dotted line across the map, Webb-Ellis

I Hear Horses, Sally O'Reilly & James M’Kay

The House of Beautifully Earned Trust, Muster Station

Contemporary Exorcism, Open School East Associates 2018

also, also, also, Georgia Gendall & Marine Environmental Group

Bees in a Hive of Glass, Sarah Dobai & Tom McCarthy

Prose Brut, Jude Crilly

Slack Fulcrum Twelfths (Green Vitriol), Creaking Breeze Trio


Chalta Hi Gaya, Salma Ashraf

Memory of the Future, Sarah Wood
Sarah Wood, Memory Of The Future, 2018. Photo: Rosie Lonsdale

The Photocopier who fell in love with Me, Rosie Carr

The Sounding Shore: Coast to Coast, Marcus Leadley, David Rogers & Adrian Newton

[these roarers]Bernice Donszelmann, Lucy Gunning & Helen Robertson
Bernice Donszelmann, Lucy Gunning & Helen Robertson, [these roarers], 2018. Still from video documentation by Lou Lou Sainsbury.

Elle Elle et Elle Aussi, Nantes School of Art
Nantes School of Art, Elle Elle et Elle Aussi, 2018. Still from digital video documentation by Lou Lou Sainsbury

Resisting Expectations, Analogue Ensemble
Analogue Ensemble, Resisting Expectations. Vicky Smith. Photo: Dik Ng (43)

motus lineae, Keira Greene with Katye Coe and Tim Mitchell

Ash WalkThe Walking Reading Group

Are You Ready? Margareta Kern
Margareta Kern, Are You Ready? 2018. Performed with Jessica Harrington. Photo: Marcus Kern

A Work-In-Conversation by Florence Peake, an Invitation and a Studio Visit with Keira Greene, Florence Peake & Keira Greene

Talks & Workshops:

Sentient Value Systems, Daniella Valz Gen

Critical Swimming, Water Bodies & Political Animal Reading Group
Water Bodies, Critical Swimming, 2018. Photo: Rosie Lonsdale

A World on the Move: Entrapped in the Container Economy, Rachael Squire
Rachel Squire, A World on the Move: Entrapped in the Container Economy. 2018. Photo: Rosie Lonsdale

Celebrating Drew Gallery Projects Archive, Sandra Drew & panel

Fictional Music, Experimental Composition and Performance, Creaking Breeze Trio

Dot Kids workshops with Julie Bevan

Counterpoint Arts: Refugee Week Discussion, Counterpoint Arts & Platforma

Cinema Programme:

Artists’ Short Film programme

Lek and the Dogs(+ Q&A), Andrew Kötting, 2018

The Swimmer, Frank Perry, 1968

Spell Reel, Filipa César, 2017
Filipa César, Spell Reel, 2017. Production still courtesy of and © the artist

If…, Lindsay Anderson 1968

O Lucky Man!, Lindsay Anderson 1973

Britannia Hospital, Lindsay Anderson, 1982