Helen Wilks is a narrative painter. Many of her works have been based on theatre performance, and she has also painted some portraits.
This work is one of a series of paintings entitled Childhood Fragments. The subject and title refers to a poem by Stevie Smith.
‘If you have ever been a child learning to swim, fear mixed with determination is concentrated in the very first effort to succeed. I sometimes think that all our lives are lived with this continuing sensation when attempting to achieve something new, but I hope my image is one of survival and counter to the image Smith conjured in her poem Drowning not Waving’ (Helen Wilks)