denise batchelor

One Breath

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Dear readers,

I'm Denise Batchelor, a New Zealand video artist, and I want to create a new body of work focusing on breath.

A fascination with breath can be traced back to my childhood. I would watch with anticipation as my older brother Vaughan disappeared under the waves, and I was not alone in wondering if he would ever resurface! My project One Breath is inspired by his forty plus years as a free-diving fisherman, gathering paua (abalone) from what is considered to be some of the roughest coastline of New Zealand. He has numerous stories of survival, including attacks from sea mammals and the sinking of several boats. I have begun the process of recording his storytelling as part of this project.

One Breath will examine the subject of breath, specifically the holding of one's breath, as is fundamental to freediving. For thousands of years, freedivers have gathered food, harvested resources, and reclaimed the sunken. Exploring various branches of this community today (competitive, commercial, and recreational), One Breath will examine physical, psychological and perhaps even metaphorical associations with the discipline of free-diving.

I'm excited to be one of seven international artists accepted to take part in Deep Anatomy, an amazing art/performance/cultural program organized to complement Vertical Blue, an international freediving competition taking place in the Bahamas (see links below). These programs provide a unique opportunity for research, gathering material and dialogue between the multi-disciplined groups attending.

Using video, photography, and audio as my chosen mediums, I will be recording brief vignettes and juxtaposing 'still framed' video imagery with recordings of oceanic sounds and freedivers oral stories (including those of my brother) and will weave together these gathered materials on my return to New Zealand. An exhibition is planned in New Zealand in 2016.

I am passionate about my practice and about this project. I am asking the 'Boosted' community for help with some of the associated costs (the Bahamas are a long way from NZ)! Any contribution, no matter how small, will help make this project possible.

As a graduate (MFA) of Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, I have exhibited widely in New Zealand and internationally. My work Ruru is currently showing at the Dowse Museum, Wellington. In 2013, I was Auckland Council Regional Parks Artist-in-Residence and have work in various public and private collections, including The Wallace Arts Trust.



Denise Batchelor website:

Auckland Council Artist-in-Residence documentary:

Rob Garrett, Curator:

D-Photo Blog:

Deep Anatomy:

Vertical Blue:

Fluid States:


  • Many thanks for One Breath


    Wow, just wow!! Thank you so much for all your support that came in the form of contributions, messages and the sharing of my project One Breath. I just wouldn't have been able to do this project without you all and am truly humbled by the generosity shown. I have just two days left here on Long Island, Bahamas and look forward to the next phase of One Breath - editing! 

    Last night was amazing as we all (Vertical Blue and Deep Anatomy participants) gathered at Dean's Blue Hole to listen to two incredibly talented brothers. William and Sam Trubridge told their story from across the water using the Vertical Blue free-diving platform, and under a starry northern hemisphere sky, projected images onto the cliff wall. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to show an experimental video piece I've been working on, which was shot in the shallows surrounding Dean's Blue Hole. It was shot under water, patterns and light beams, and brought above the surface to mirror that of below.

    This has hands down been one of the most interesting and exciting projects I've ever had the pleasure of working on. 

    Many Thanks!



    Photo by Denise Batchelor - an experimental video projected onto the cliffs at Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas - 2015

    Many thanks for One Breath
  • Last days on Long Island


    Wow! Am blown away - 73% and now ONLY TWO DAYS LEFT to reach target... thanks so much to everyone who has supported One Breath. Please consider sharing this page with others as I still need to reach my goal in order to benefit from this Boosted campaign. 

    So tomorrow is the last dive day for Vertical Blue - what an incredible event it has been so far. And a fascinating exploration of breath that will continue to inform my practice well after I leave these shores. I'm looking forward to editing the material I've gathered in these last few weeks on my return to New Zealand. 

    In a few days I will be attending the Deep Anatomy symposium with the other participants and this will conclude my time here.

    Again, many thanks for giving me this opportunity,



    Image - a work in progress by Denise Batchelor as part of One Breath project.

    Last days on Long Island
  • One Breath - One week to go!


    Firstly, let me shout out a huge thank you for everyones support! I'm truly amazed by the generosity that continues to be shown for my project One Breath. It is an incredible privilege to be able to take part in the Deep Anatomy event here on Long Island, and to have the opportunitiy to engage with the divers of Vertical Blue is fantastic. Now with only one week to go, I'm hoping that social media and word of mouth can help me reach my target. As I'm currently working on the project, there is little time for wearing my marketing hat, so I ask if you can please help by passing this on and sharing this page.

    FYI, if you're interested in seeing what I'm up to here, I'm posting a blog and photos on Tumblr and on my Facebook page. Editing the mountain of footage I've been gathering however, will have to wait till my return to New Zealand.

    Here's an overview so far: So its nearly a week I've been here on Long Island and they've been full days. Observing the Vertical Blue free-diving competition at Dean's Blue Hole has been incredible and is certainly informing my practice re: breath. But I've also been on lots of excursions around the island. Yesterday it was a trip to Salt Pond where folk here collect their salt. And before that I met with the Deacon of the Catholic Church who services at least three churches in this deeply religious community. I'm hoping to explore in the water with a sponge fisherman who I talked with a few days ago too. And I'm sure there will be other encounters before my here time is up.


    Feeling blessed




    Photo: Denise Batchelor Looking down on cameraman at Dean's Blue Hole, Long Island, Bahamas

    One Breath - One week to go!
  • Long Island, Bahamas


    Thank you to all the One Breath supporters! I've arrived at my destination and can't believe I'm here - its quite surreal - after nearly 30 hours of flight time and waiting in airports, this is what greeted me upon arriving in the Bahamas! 

    Today Sam and William Trubridge facilitated a group meeting with the participants and contestants. Its just so exciting to be a part of this program and can't wait to get started. Tomorrow we meet at the infamous Dean's Blue Hole where the freediving event Vertical Blue will be held. 

    Meanwhile, I'm so grateful for the support and would like to give special thanks to those who have donated so far - including those folk that have decided to remain anonymous. You rock!

    As I'm going to be fairly involved in my work from here on in, I ask if you can please consider sharing this page. Its amazing that this project has reached 59% of its goal - awesome - but now I have 13 days left to get to the goalpost. 

    As they say in the Bahamas - Yah man :)

    Long Island, Bahamas
  • Bahamas bound...


    Wow 57 % - we're over half way!! Thank you so much for your support! The next post will be from the Bahamas, so stay tuned.

    Denise :)

  • Wairarapa


    A fantastic time on the coast of Wairarapa and a story in the local Wairarapa Times Age. Its starting to feel real now - I leave for Bahamas in just a few days! Thanks so much for all the support,


  • A quick trip South


    You guys are awesome! I can't believe the generosity that has poured into helping this project become a reality - now at 35% of target. Wow! Thank you thank you. And every little bit helps, so please feel free to share this project. For the price of a coffee (actually, I don't drink coffee, so don't know exactly the price) - but for roundabout the price of a coffee, you too can join the support crew of One Breath, and its tax deductable! See here for more benefits to donating. And I will be posting updates from the Bahamas, so check back to see pics of my progress. 

    For now though I'm hitting the road for a quick trip to Wairarapa in the hope that the weather will improve enough to capture some footage of my brother Vaughan in the water. For me this project has already begun!! Thought I'd leave you with this image of him, as he is the inspiration for One Breath. 

    Denise :)


    A quick trip South
  • Its happening!!


    Wow, I'm humbled by the generosity - thank you so much to those who have helped my project already reach nearly 20% of its goal!

    Seriously, any small amount is going to help make the difference and donations are tax deductible - to see all the things that Boosted offers to donors.

    And to see a video of my practice from an earlier project: (thanks to Kirsty MacDonald)

    Next week I'm on the road again to Wairarapa to capture some footage of my free-diving brother on the Wairarapa coast. Will post updates as I can!

    Thanks again for your support and making this project possible,