Offsite Projects Archive

  • Dave Charlesworth and Richard Whitby
    '31,838 feet from the wreck'

'31,838 feet from the wreck' is a week-long project and publication by artists Dave Charlesworth and Richard Whitby.

Through a map-style publication as well as a series of accompanying talks and events, the project responds to the wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery, a munitions ship that sank off the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames Estuary during the Second World War.

The ship is still stacked with explosives and is regularly surveyed to make sure that corrosion and sand migration in the riverbed have not increased the risk of detonation. If the wreck were to explode the blast could have a considerable impact on opposite shoreline, and Southend-on-Sea.

In contrast to the wreck, the town of Southend is in a state of flux, with major regeneration projects changing the shape and rhythm of its centre. This project explores the idea that Southend might incorporate the threat of the remains of the ‘Montgomery as part of its future identity.

Using plans of current civic construction projects, as well as imagery that mimics digital cinema and computer gaming, the artists have constructed a three-dimensional computer model of this imaginary landscape. This model has become a virtual set for the production of still images and video footage, as well as the basis for a map-style publication. In this imaginary location, the wreck becomes a heritage attraction and part of the town's iconography.

Publication Launch:
Saturday 7 December, 6pm to 8pm
Incorporating screenings of two newly commissioned films by the artists.

Thursday 12 December, 7pm
The Wreck of the Richard Montgomery: Ruin, Regeneration and Identity in the Thames Estuary.

Artists Richard Whitby and Dave Charlesworth will join Professor Patrick Wright in a discussion on the wrecked WWII munitions ship, the SS Richard Montgomery, which lies on the Estuary bed.