Deserted of human life these decaying landscapes provoke a profound feeling of human absence and nostalgia for a lost past. These images are part of a project called ‘Absence of Water’, which documents derelict lidos and baths in England. Gigi Cifali’s series draws attention to the increasing number of public swimming pools that have been closed in the last few decades.
Public pools may not seem like a necessity, but they are a source of fun, of safe physical activity, of being in water—for children, elders, and families that may not have access to a beach, a lake, or a river. Having been built in the late Victorian period, public lidos and baths were at the peak of their popularity in the 1930s. Gradually, living conditions and tastes have changed, resulting in a drop of attendances, leaving the public pools uneconomical to run. Many fell into decay and were demolished. Symbols of civic and architectural pride in Victorian times, today only a handful of them remain as a representation of bygone era.
All images © Gigi Cifali