Artist Sinks Ship to Create Underwater Art Installation

Artist Sinks Ship to Create Underwater Art Installation
Arts & Culture

Fishing boat set on fire and sunk to create an artificial reef in the UK

Ross Brooks
  • 7 august 2014

Sinking a ship might sound like an act of war, but for English artist Simon Faithfull it’s an act of artistic expression. For his latest project he towed a small fishing vessel out to sea, set it on fire, and then watched it sink to the bottom of the ocean where it will become an artificial reef. Onboard cameras live-streamed the sinking ship, and will continue to relay images of boat’s transformation over the next year.

Before sinking the ship, Faithfull had to get the approval of the approval from arts organisations, conservationists, divers and specialist technicians. While the act of sinking a ship might sound dramatic, the reality can be quite different. “Rather poignantly it took longer for the boat to sink that we thought. Now it is beginning the slow journey of becoming a reef,” Faithfull tells The Independent.


Underwater cameras will continue to relay images to exhibitions setup in Brighton, Calais and Caen. They are designed to last for a year, but the whole ship’s transformation into a reef will take much longer than that. Faithfull adds, “A whole ecosystem will grow around the vessel soon. We’ll see plants starting to grow and fish swimming through the apertures. Something which was part of our world until today has now entered a different realm and is starting a new life.”

It might seem wasteful to sink a ship for the sake of art, but the project happened in collaboration with Wreck to Reef, a not-for-profit organization seeking to regenerate an area of the seabed near the Isle of Portland, UK. Despite the long-term benefits of the project, an earlier version of the idea in Brighton had to be aborted due to maritime restrictions.


Some of the artist’s previous work has also been focused on committing objects into the unknown. One of the most notable examples was sending a chair to the edge of space by tying it to a weather balloon.

Simon Faithfull

[h/t] The Independent

Images by TrawlerPhotos, Simon Faithfull

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