Into the blue // Oceans I have known

Dr Rebecca Olive1

1The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia


‘Bluespace’ and ‘greenspace’ are terms used to refer to nature, wilderness and outdoors spaces. The emphasis on colour evokes the more-than-human elements that make up these spaces – water, trees and other plants. In the case of ‘bluespace’, it is used to talk about nature-based water spaces – oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, canals, ponds – yet the focus on blue does not connect with many experiences of bodies of water. Not only hues of turquoise, navy and cobalt, oceans too are various shades of green, grey, silver, black, white and brown. They glow and sparkle with light, are dotted by the brightness of debris and bodies, and by the smudges and smears of pollution.

In this presentation, I will follow on from critiques of the descriptive focus on one colour, which makes invisible the diverse and dynamic nature of, in this case, oceans. Drawing on experience and memories to rethink oceans I have known, through what the colours told me.


Rebecca Olive is a researcher in the School of Human Movement & Nutrition Sciences at The University of Queensland. Her current work explores how participation in ‘nature sports’ such as surfing and ocean swimming leads to ecological sensibilities and ethics. Stemming from her work about women as recreational surfers, this work builds on feminist approaches to recreational lifestyle sport cultures and ethics and was recently funded as a DECRA. She is co-editor of the book, ‘Women in Action Sport Cultures’ (2016).


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

IAG Website

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