Bathing & Connection
Volume 01.
Vicki Ratcliff

BAINA's series, Bathing & Connection, explores how the ritual of bathing can nurture the relationship with self or others. Intrigued to uncover how the act of bathing can foster connection, we spoke to three individuals who regularly add this restorative practise to their routine to re-connect with themselves, or their community.

Located in Mona Vale on Sydney's northern beaches (Guringai country), Vicki Ratcliff, a painter and avid swimmer, is a proud member of The Buckettes. A group of 25 women who come together every day, 'rain hail or shine', to embrace a morning ocean swim.

Conceived 15 years ago, they coined the name 'The Buckettes' after bringing litres of hot water and buckets down to the beach to pour over themselves post bathe, allowing their feet to soak in the warmth. Their connection and commitment to the act of communal ocean bathing inspired independent film maker Ed Coney to create the acclaimed short film 'SEA BIRDS', capturing the ritual's joy and shared sense of community that it fosters.

We had the opportunity to speak to a member of The Buckettes, Vicki Ratcliff, to uncover how her participation within the group has helped nurture enduring friendships centred around the shared love of wild ocean bathing.

Above: Life on the Edge oil on canvas, Vicki Ratcliff.

"My bathing ritual consists of heading to the beach each morning around 7am. I often like to walk the beach first, especially if its cold. I swim in the bay if the sea is calm but more often than not I head to the rock pool to do laps.

The act of bathing allows me to meet and connect with other like-minded souls and adds to my joy."

Above: Still taken from acclaimed short film SEA BIRDS, produced by Ed Coney, 2020.

"The characters I have met at Mona Vale have become like family. We are all very different individuals connected by the sea. We share our celebrations, our losses, our grief and our illnesses with love and support.

The vast sea and sky have a way of humbling and connecting us as we float and chat."

Above: Member of The Buckettes, Mina, captured by Ed Coney for SEA BIRDS.

Above: The Buckettes, captured by Ed Coney.

"I love that moment when I first reach the other end of the pool and I stop to take in the morning – the water coming over the rock ledge beyond, the deep ocean beyond that to the horizon and then that beautiful morning sky.

I love the tingly sensation on my skin that comes from being in the cold water, especially when the waves creep over the rock ledge and into the pool creating a foamy, swirly, bubbly champagne."

"Post bathe I feel invigorated and recharged, determined to tackle whatever the rest of the day will bring."

- Vicki Ratcliff

Above: Holding On, oil on canvas, Vicki Ratcliff.

"My paintings capture my love for swimming and the women that share it each morning with me at Mona Vale rock pool. I am inspired by their warmth and strength, love of life, and age defying beauty."

Above: Good Morning, oil on canvas, Vicki Ratcliff.


See more artwork by Vicki Ratcliff
Watch SEA BIRDS by Ed Coney

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