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Recovering Drowned Clay

Recovering Drowned Clay (2011)

The wreck of SS Zaanstroom

9 miles off the coast of Littlehampton, West Sussex


In this commemorative project, I recovered a sample of China Clay from the hold of SS Zaanstroom. This Dutch clay carrier sank one hundred years earlier, on its homebound journey from Fowey to Amsterdam. With only a cylinder of air to sustain me I had just 40 minutes to reach the seabed and find the clay. The search was traumatic - in dark murky waters 28 meters beneath the surface, I scaled the rusty framework and deck trying to locate the hold. My hands -protected from cold in thick gloves - lead the way. Finally, with only minutes of air left in my cylinder, I felt a void open up beneath me.  As I dropped inside softness could be felt under foot, reaching down I scoped the clay up in my hand and lifted it to the surface.

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