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Wreck diving helmet

How to visit the invisible? The Torrey Canyon wrecked off the Scilly Isles in 1967 in what was at the time the world's largest oil slick - and still the largest oil disaster in UK coastal waters. The disaster now exists in traces, uneven patterns of environmental impact, volumes of archival information in governmental, civil and scientific bodies and media and ephemera from what was one of the first live media tracked disasters.

Torrey Canyon commemorative plate

Wrecks have long loomed large as metaphors and romantic tropes, but they also stand as axis moments in time, from a human perspective they are points on journeys, breaks in trade, losses and gains in ledgers and lives. Yet our unfamiliarity with the sea in it's scale and strangeness too often leads us to conceptualise human disasters as kitsch and sentiment

Torrey Canyon commemorative plate

From a deep time perspective, the view - if they we personified - of the oil and rocks, the geological shift and change, that dramatic moment of fragmentation is catagorised for us only in terms of effects, a juncture that moves matter out of place - the surprising appearance of eons old hydrocarbons onto the sunny beaches of the channel coasts. 

Three stones from three points

How to communicate with matter, with the inhuman, with a moment in time now invisible, under water? Do the archive, the commemoration and the ritual each offer a route to communion with a moment, a decisive one?

Water samples

Wreck communication available at

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