Toni Mcgreachan
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Personal Best seriesConstellation seriesLife Size SwimmersLiquereWater PortraitsCompetereConstellations NocturneAnimato SeriesRhythm Series



Journey to the podium

My latest commission has been to paint elite swimmer Emma Hollis who is aiming to take part in the 2012 Paralympics. The commission is part of a project that pairs artists with different athletes and is a collaboration between Essex Arts and Essex Legacy teams.

The work I have made was exhibited in a group exhibition in 2012 and then permanently displayed in a leisure centre in Essex as part of the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games. See the exhibition page for images from the shows. For further information please see:

Emma Hollis GB
Emma Hollis GB
No 2 Oil on canvas
25 x 25cm


Emma Hollis GB
Emma Hollis GB
No 1 Oil on canvas
25 x 25cm

Emma Hollis GB
Emma Hollis GB
No 3 Oil on canvas
25 x 25cm

Con brio, oil painting
Con brio
Oil on canvas
46 x 30cm

For the commission I focused on making a painting that expressed Emma Hollis’s professional life as a swimmer for Great Britain and was a recognisable portrait of her. I worked with Emma in a variety of swimming environments including attending a training session, a gala and at an outside swimming pool. I became familiar with the different elements of Emma’s personality and swimming world which culminated in the above paintings.

The paintings aim to show different sides to Emma’s personality including the determination of the swimmer, a fun side and an effortlessness in moving in the water. Emma is a beautiful swimmer and it was a real privilege and pleasure to meet and work with her. Thank you Emma for being such a great model and the best for 2012.

Below are a selection of my photographs which I used as reference material to make the commission.


Olympics 2012

During the last two years I have been busy making work about young club swimmers and the Olympics. In association with London Swimming, I visited and took photographs at two swimming camps held by Olympic champion Joanne Jackson. I have also worked with swimmers from Beckenham Swimming club and the British Synchronised Swimming Squad. It has been an inspiring and exciting experience working with all these swimmers and seeing how gracefully they moved in the water and the beautiful shapes they made. Every swimmer moves in a unique way and the different pools and light bring unpredictable results. Observing from life is central to my art practise and watching the swimmers and absorbing the atmosphere is as important as recording my subject with photography. Meeting Joanne Jackson was a privilege and to see her in action so near to me was a wonderful experience, she moves so fast I was running to keep up with her!

I’d like to say a big thank you to all the swimmers for allowing me to photograph you as without you there would be no paintings!

Below are a selection of photographs and some of the paintings I have subsequently produced (see also the Personal Best series, Competere and Animato series) More paintings are in progress and will be posted soon…

Joanne Jackson 2009 Young Swimmers Olympic dreams Olympic feet Joanne Jackson summer camp


Paintings of Joanne Jackson

Joanne Jackson 1, 14.5cm x 44cm oil on canvas
Joanne Jackson 1

Joanne Jackson 2, 14.5cm x 44cm oil on canvas
Joanne Jackson 2

Joanne Jackson 3, 14.5cm x 44cm oil on canvas
Joanne Jackson 3

Joanne Jackson 4, 14.5cm x 44cm oil on canvas
Joanne Jackson 4

Paintings of young club swimmers

Freestyle 1, oil on canvas
Freestyle 1

Freestyle 2, 12.5cm x 39cm oil on canvas
Freestyle 2

Freestyle 3, oil on canvas
Freestyle 3

Untitled 1, 25 x 35cm oil on canvas
Untitled 1

Untitled 2, 20 x 36cm oil on canvas
Untitled 2

Studies on card and paper

Study of young swimmer, gloss
Study of young swimmer

Fly 1
Fly 1

Study of young swimmer
Study of young swimmer

© Toni McGreachan 2013