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Francesca McColl

Francesca McColl is a documentary photographer based in Bristol. Her work is motivated by curiosity and an eagerness to discover unfamiliar subjects and communities in Britain. She explores how these communities provide a common ground and a level of mutual respect between a diverse group of individuals.

Francesca completed a BA(Hons) degree in Photography at Bath Spa University in 2019. Her first major documentary project was ‘Wild Women’. This project documented a community of female wild swimmers in Britain during the winter months. She explored the empowerment and bravery of these women, swimming alongside them to fully understand the pleasure of cold-water immersion. ‘A Silent Gratitude’ was the project that followed. With this work Francesca explored the forest bathing community, taking the time to connect with these people, learning about forest bathing and the therapeutic qualities of the natural landscape.


Wild Women

Wild Women focuses on a community of intrepid women who brave the winter waters of England’s rivers and lakes.

Wild Swimming has been part of our cultural history since the middle ages, when it was believed to have had healing powers and figured in early medical and scientific research. Today, wild swimming attracts a diverse range of participants, with women being central to this community.

Feelings of vulnerability during these swims are surpassed by the shared joy and exhilaration experienced while swimming in these groups. Women offer support, laughter and empowerment, showing strength and beauty in the cold months of winter.

A Silent Gratitude

A Silent Gratitude explores our yearning to reconnect with nature through the process of Shinrin-Yoku.

Shinrin-Yoku, which translates as ‘forest bathing’, is a process that was introduced in Japan in the 1980s. Modernisation after the second world war forced Japanese citizens to move into cramped urban locations. After time, the government recognised that these changes in living conditions were causing a rise in mental health issues. To solve this growing problem, the government turned to Japan’s forests, encouraging people to take regular walks through these areas of natural beauty. Research found that these walks not only helped mental health, but the general wellbeing of Japanese citizens.

These photographs document these mindful walks, showing moments of silence, reflection and appreciation, to the beauty of these natural landscapes.


  • Photography BA(Hons), Bath Spa University, (2016-2019)

  • Wild Women, The Glove Factory Studios, Bradford-on-Avon, UK (2019)

  • Photography Now, The Brick Lane Gallery, London, UK (2019)

  • A Silent Gratitude, The Royal United Hospital Exhibition Space, Bath, UK (2019)

  • Form, Bath Spa University degree show, Candid Art’s Trust, London, UK (2019)

  • Bath Spa University degree show, Bath School of Art and Design, Bath, Uk (2019)

  • Selected Photographer, Source Magazine Graduate Photography Showcase, Source Magazine (2019)

  • Wild Women, PGZ2019 digital and printed, Photograd, (2019-2020)

  • Wild Women, C41 Magazine, (2019)

  • Wild Women, It’s Nice That, (2019)

  • Wild Women, The Outdoor Swimming Society, (2019)

  • Wild Women, Source Magazine Graduate Photography Showcase, (2019)

  • Photograph from Wild Women series featured in ‘Swimming Under The Sky’ article, The Bath Magazine, (2019)