2019-01-08 The Dark Room: Christine Grosart

The New Year got off to a good start with a good turnout at club last night, but if you weren’t in the audience, you missed a real treat.
Christine is a most engaging speaker, and an interesting photographer, even if what she does terrifies you (it does me!). She has the British record for the deepest solo cave dive by a woman, which turned out to be in 2009 at Wookey Hole (Chamber 24 – a long way from the tourist areas).
She is certainly a busy lady, who works as a paramedic, runs a business she started in 2012 (WetWellies – cave days, training and family outings) and more recently a maker of cave diving videos; the latter about a Croatian Project which she has been involved in over the last 4 years. A trailer is available on youtube; www.reelhouse.org – The Master Cave.
Christine talked us through her journey both in learning about caving, diving, abseiling; 25 years in learning her trade. She says she not a photographer as she’s had no training. We didn’t agree with her.
Her first trip underground was at 14 when she was working with horses and it was a weekend hobby. If you are interested in caving, there’s a good website called ‘New to Caving’ – all the information you need. She started taking photographs using film; imagine a trip underground, through mud, water, slime, tiny passages, cold and wet and steamy – taking your 24 or 36 images and getting them back a week later – useless. That must have been hard. She met a person in 2004, Clive Westlake, who took her under his wing and taught her many things about photography in caves; Christine acted as the model and told some funny stories about situations where the expectations of the model (to show scale etc) can be rather high. We saw many of Clive’s own images during the presentation for which Christine was grateful.
But then a change: Christine met Mark Burkey, who was not really a diver but a cave photographer. He took great and unusual images. So she taught him diving in 3 months and started working with him on photographs, gradually developing her own style. We had a practical session; a good demonstration of what not to do with a new radio controller for 3 flashguns – it hadn’t been tested. But we got the idea and had fun.
So a really good evening, thank you Christine, but I won’t be joining you on your training/event days.

Images: Geoff Sims
Report: Marny Thompson LRPS

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