Artist Simon Faithfull sets fire to and sinks boat off Dorset for coral reef project

Farewell to the ‘Brioney Victoria’ – hello to a new underwater installation

The sight of a boat, engulfed in smoke and slowly sinking to the ocean floor, might normally be expected to attract the authorities.

But the final voyage of the Brioney Victoria was cheered on from the Dorset shore by a leading artist who created the conflagration in order to produce a unique underwater installation.

After winning the approval of arts organisations, conservationists, divers and specialist technicians Simon Faithfull, whose work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, was granted permission to sink his boat off the Isle of Portland.

The small fishing vessel was towed out to sea and set alight. As the fire burned, the boat slowly sank to the seabed where it will begin its new life, gradual transforming into an artificial reef.

Onboard cameras live-streamed the sinking through a dedicated app and will continue to relay images of the defunct vessel’s slow metamorphosis from its final resting place into a new underwater ecosystem.

The cameras will remain transmitting for a year, with the images relayed to exhibitions in Brighton, Calais and Caen.

“Rather poignantly it took longer for the boat to sink that we thought. Now it is beginning the slow journey of becoming a reef,” said Faithfull, a lecturer at Slade School of Fine Art.

“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. The whole process will take years.”

Faithfull, half-brother to singer Marianne, previously sent “a domestic chair to the edge of space”, tethered to a weather balloon, for an artwork. He bought the boat off eBay from a Canvey Island yard and customised it with a wheel-house.

Getting permission for the sinking was “extremely difficult”, said the Berlin-based artist, who aborted an earlier plan to launch the project in Brighton due to maritime restrictions. He is working with Wreck to Reef, a not-for-profit organisation seeking to regenerate an area of the seabed near Portland.

In 2011, Spencer Tunick's aquatic artwork involved 1,200 individuals gathering naked on the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel In 2011, Spencer Tunick's aquatic artwork involved 1,200 individuals gathering naked on the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel

Commissioned by the Brighton Photo Biennial exhibition, the work will be staged in October at Fabrica, a former chapel in Brighton whose architecture is reminiscent of a huge upturned boat.

Suspended beneath its rafters, two large projection screens will show excerpts of the boat smoking and sinking beneath the waves. At ground level, a series of monitors will show the mysterious images coming from the drowned boat.

The excitement for the artist is investigating “the mystery of the world beneath the waves and what happens when an everyday object crosses into that realm.”

The Portland authorities had no cause for alarm. “We informed the coastguard,” said Faithfull. “The biggest problem was keeping boats out of the way from our burning vessel so they didn’t block our cameras’ field of view.”

Faithfull recently placed books of his sketches onto the shelves at a Tunbridge Wells Morrisons for shoppers to browse through as part of the Hoodwink art project.

His film 0°00 Navigation, projected on to a large screen at Salford Quays, shows one man’s obsessive and deranged journey exactly along the Greenwich Meridian from Peace Heaven in Hampshire to Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.

All at sea: Other aquatic artworks

In 2011, 1,200 brave individuals gathered naked on the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel to participate in an environmental art installation by Spencer Tunick, designed to bring life back to the disappearing water table.

English sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor specialises in the creation of contemporary underwater sculptures which over time develop into artificial coral reefs. Created first underwater museum - Museo Subacuático de Arte - for sculpture in the waters surrounding Cancun, Mexico.

Sculptor Anthony Gormley’s Another Place, consisting of cast iron figures sculptures of the artist’s body, facing towards the sea, was granted permission to become a permanent installation at Crosby Beach, Merseyside.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine