Growing up among the historic beauty of Edinburgh, Soo Burnell was always fascinated by its majestic architecture. In particular, she fell in love with the Victorian swimming pools of her childhood. There, she found her unique style as a photo artist and developed her own aesthetic. Since the opening of her first Poolside exhibition in 2018, Burnell has captured the inside of swimming halls all across Europe, accentuating their eye-catching geometry, dramatic proportions, and dreamy color palettes. Her focus is on meticulous composition that incorporates swimmers to provide a sense of scale. The effect is minimal and reserved, yet dynamic in its proportions and details. Burnell’s work offers a hypnotic and nostalgic look at these old places, giving them a fresh, new look.
With inspiration from many art forms, architecture, painting, film, and fashion, Burnell’s stylized works have drawn comparisons to a Wes Anderson film. To achieve this style, she uses muted, pastel hues to capture the pools’ architectural highlights. “I wanted to photograph Edinburgh’s swimming baths to show the beauty of the architecture while minimizing all of the modern elements. I love the geometry of the tiles, the lines on the bottom of the pool, and the typography including the ‘Deep End’ signs. Since my first Poolside exhibition, I have traveled to London, Paris, Manchester and Glasgow to add to my collection. I have been really inspired by the idea of having a slightly quirky Wes Anderson feel to them, especially with the pastel color palette, and with the swimmers adding both a human element to each scene along with a dreamlike quality. We are so lucky to have these beautiful pools still in use in our city and maybe the photographs will remind people how lovely they are.”