Celebrating Sydney’s Freediving Artists

We are couple of months into Covid life, and it’s starting to feel worryingly normal to pass two days without leaving the house. In this post, I’m not going to reflect on all the plans and opportunities COVID has smushed. Instead, I wanted to write some posts about the beautiful and unexpected side of free time. I’ve discovered that my fellow freedivers have creative talents way beyond breath-holding, so I wanted to celebrate the beautiful freediving art and ocean art being created.

Silvia Rubboli Golf Umberto the Shark Oil on Canvas Painting
Silvia’s ‘Umberto the Shark’

Two of my amazing dive buddies, Grace and Silvia, agreed to take part in this post and share some of their creations with the world.

Introducing the Artists:


Silvia Rubboli Golf Freediving Artist

Originally from Italy, Silvia has spent years living in Australia creating professional artwork. She is inspired by her childhood in Italy and her amphibious life as a freediver artist in Sydney.


Freediving Artist

Grace has been lighting up the Sydney freediving scene ever since she arrived from New York by way of Hawaii. If you follow @Immersiafreediving on Instagram you might recognise Grace (or recognise her bum, at least) as one of the Friday FILFs.

Introducing the Art:

How would you describe your work?

SILVIA: Figurative, bold, niche, childish at times, but also very detailed.

GRACE: Marker Oceanscapes. I am a painter first and foremost, but I’ve led a nomadic lifestyle the last few years, moving from New York City to Hawaii, and then to Sydney, Australia. It was hard to transport a big painting kit across the ocean, so I switched to markers. I love their portability! 

Which passion came first came first for you? The Ocean or the Art?

GRACE: Art definitely came first. I grew up two hours inland and didn’t spend much time in the ocean before moving to Hawaii, but I’ve been drawing all my life. As an artist, there’s a big struggle between drawing what you want and drawing what’s marketable/what people want to buy. I love drawing figures, but a few years ago I realised figures in the ocean was a good way to combine the two. 

SILVIA: Both. I grew up by the Mediterranean Sea, in a city called Rimini, on the Adriatic coast of Italy. I spent my days at the beach my whole life, and I’ve always been very creative.

Fish are life. Fish are work. Fish are a blessing given from Mother Nature

Silvia Rubboli Golf

How did you develop your artistic style and your skill?

SILVIA: I have a degree in construction drawing, so I guess that’s why my work is so detailed! I used to sketch with pen on paper in High School. That’s how the construction drawing started, and then after that I got a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. I’ve tried different types of media, but these days I still use only oil on canvas and watercolours, and ink on paper. I guess my style is a mix of my favourite artists – lots of illustrators and painters from the renaissance and modern art mainly. I’m not a big fan of contemporary.

GRACE: I am known for being able to use unrealistic colors to create a realistic final picture. I love adding splashes of bright colors and avoiding black. This has always been my thing, and whether I use watercolors, colored pencils or markers, my style is the same. When I look at a grey dolphin photo, I decide whether its hues lean more to warm or cold and go from there! 

What inspires you to create freediving art and ocean art?

GRACE: I love the ocean. I’ve always craved hikes to lakes and ponds, but moving abroad exposed me to a whole new world of marine life. In Hawaii, I swam with my first turtles, dolphins, sharks, jellyfish, octopus, and rays. In Sydney, I swam with my first seals and cuttlefish. For me, the ocean is all about interacting with new creatures, some as big as me! I love learning about the personalities of animals and interacting with them. I am inspired by the playfulness of species often overlooked. Spinner Dolphins travel in large groups and put on a show for you, leaping out of the water doing their best flips. Seals will mimic you. If you spin around in a circle, they’ll do the same. These encounters have been my greatest inspirations, and life’s best gifts!

SILVIA: The village of Santarcangelo Di Romagna, near to Rimini, is a town full of painters and artists. It is here, where I formed my foundation for appreciating the beauty in simple things, and for finding poetry in the ordinary.

I remember when fish of many varieties, wrapped in old newspapers, having been freshly caught, were being passed hand to hand from the boats, to men and women on the docks which, early in the morning, were lining the harbour, on push bikes or just standing, embraced in the first light of the day, anticipating the arrival of the boats, with their escort of flocks of hungry seagulls.

Fish are life; Fish are work; Fish are a blessing given from Mother Nature; Fish are simple yet beautiful in their simplicity.

For me, the ocean is all about interacting with new creatures, some as big as me!

Grace Singer

Where can we find your work?

If you too create freediving art and art inspired by the ocean, let me know! I would love to feature more artists and their work on this page. Contact me here or leave a comment!

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