A BOAT sculpture was set on fire and sunk off Dorset’s coast as part of an art project.

Onlookers said the specially created concrete sculpture took around 40 minutes to sink in Ringstead Bay on Monday.

The idea of the REEF project, created by artist Simon Faithfull, is that an old ‘boat’ at the end of its life, sinks from the surface world we know, to the underwater one, to provide a home for marine life on the sea bed.

Video cameras on board captured the underwater sculpture’s last ‘voyage’ to the bottom and will spend the next 12 months sending back video as the sculpture is slowly taken over marine plants and other other aquatic life.

People will be able to tune in via the ‘boat’s’ website every day from 9am to 6pm for the next year to watch the project’s progress into an artificial reef.

The project was commissioned by the visual arts organisation, Fabrica, and the images will be part of an exhibition that premieres at the Brighton Photo Biennial Festival this October, before heading to Calais and Caen in France.

The REEF project took three years to organise and was backed by a number of partners, including the non-profit organisation Wreck to Reef, which seeks to regenerate an area of seabed in Weymouth and Portland.

The concrete sculpture boat was sunk on an area within the Wreck to Reef site designated for community projects.

The ‘boat,’ called Brioney Victoria, was originally brought on eBay for £75 and it underwent careful preparation to remove any toxic content before being scuttled in Ringstead Bay.

Dorset Echo:

Mr Faithfull said he was delighted with how the project had gone.

He said: “The cameras are going to transmit for a year. The idea is anybody can watch something from our world that has crossed over into this other realm. Over that year it will transform into an artificial reef.”

He said under the waves was still a mysterious place and said the arts project was a ‘little porthole into a different world.’ Weymouth and Portland Borough councillor for Tourisim and Culture Rachel Rogers, said the project brought an international focus to Weymouth Bay.

To watch the sculture’s progress to an underwater artificial reef click here.