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Beneath the Waves

 

We find ourselves transfixed by the sea, it is at once calming yet unknowable, conjuring a sense of awe and wonder. Most of the images feature the surface of the water, where the work happens, the battles, the fishing, trading, travel and transport, where the waves break. The embedded data, symbols, impossible geometry, numbers or words will reveal hidden forces of coastal nature; winds, tides, geology, marine life, and our dogged, sometimes futile attempts to conquer them.

 

This work was originally commissioned through the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust Connect 3Ts Hospital Redevelopment Public Art Programme, in partnership with PHOTOWORKS and WILLIS NEWSON. All the seas featured are in the Sussex English Channel.

 

The oceans are overwhelming, ever changing, and with unfathomable depths. This work is an opportunity to meditate upon our place within the world, against the immense spaces and epic timescales evoked by the sea. It reminds us of our interconnectedness and the diverse, history that shapes who we are. The seas are our only true border, others are political fictions. An open border but a dangerous one, between the known and unknown, fluctuating, unfixed, permeable. Of course, ocean travel for trade, migration, colonisation and exploration, has happened for hundreds of years but people using the sea for evermore desperate reasons is a growing and unnecessary tragedy.

 

As Above So Below 

Sea and sky inverted as mirror: the depths of the seas are unknown to us as the heavens, forever reflecting each other. The diagram illustrates how the celestial bodies keep our waters moving. At Spring tides, the gravitational pull from the sun and moon on opposite sides of the earth create the biggest tides.

Utopia  

The Utopia Marine Conservation Zone is named for the concentrations of Tope and other shark species which use it as a breeding and nursery area, but the area also supports fragile Sponge and Anthozoan communities on subtidal rocky habitats, a feature which is rare in the region.

The text is a list of all the underwater species recorded in one year by Sussex Wildlife Trust. The trust produce evidence of fluctuating populations and campaign for conservation zones when specific species are under threat.

Night Ships Passing

The English Channel is the world's busiest seaway, with over 500 ships per day. Global commodities now flow at extraordinary rates in and out of the channel yet international freight is abstract, most of us never see it up close. Despite these sea roads becoming increasingly congested, once out on the vast ocean, life at sea can still feel like floating in an abyss. This long exposure night image is around two hours. The text on the right-hand side are the names of all the ships (plus origin and destination country, speed and location) that passed through during the exposure.

 

Watchmen 

Inspired by coastal architecture and particularly the WWII pillboxes found along the Sussex coast. The diagrams on the right-hand side panel represent the different designs of pillbox seen along the Sussex coastal path. The drawing is a piece of impossible geometry informed by the pillbox lookout windows.

Just Over the Horizon

There is something mesmerising and calming about staring out to the ocean. For some it offers the prospect of other worlds and lives not yet lived. The diagram and equation represent how far away the horizon is mathematically, when looking out to sea.  

The Shape of Water II

The diagrams to the left of each piece are taken from historical reports on measuring the force, motion and size of waves. Thomas Stevenson (father of Robert Louis Stevenson) was a Lighthouse engineer, he developed theories and equations on measuring the force of waves. He saw their power as bordering on the supernatural ‘as proof of the existence of something far greater than straightforward science’. Many later enquiries are inspired by his theories and experiments.

The Shape of Water I

Common Whelk