Underwater art goes off course in Weymouth’s Fleet lagoon

TAKING THE PLUNGE: Sue Austin crosses the Fleet by wheelchair

Sue Austin is brought to safety

First published in Weymouth and Portland Sailing Olympics and Paralympics 2012 News by

STRONG currents swept a disabled artist off course in Weymouth’s Fleet lagoon as she tried to cross in an underwater wheelchair.

Yet Sue Austin celebrated the setback as a dramatic addition to the spectacle.

Crowds dressed in red and holding flags and umbrellas watched with bated breath for Sue to emerge from her first public performance.

The £49,938 Creating a Spectacle! project, paid for by Art Council England’s Unlimited funding for deaf and disabled artists, is part of the Maritime Mix Cultural Olympiad by the Sea.

Kitted in diving gear, Sue set off underwater from Ferry-bridge Inn car park in a specially-adapted jet-propelled NHS wheelchair.

She was accompanied by a team of divers led by Portland’s Rob Hughes.

Her destination was the shore on the other side where dozens of young Morris dancers from Beechcroft St Paul’s Primary and Wyke Regis Junior schools, part of the Dinosaurs Not Allowed project, entertained the crowd as they waited.

But strong currents knocked Sue and her companions off course and they lost their guide, prompting a safety boat rescue. She said: “Basically there was a very strong current underneath, Rob, Trish and I all got caught in it.

“We were separated from our surface guide and had to stop.

“It added to the drama with the rescue and some spectators said my arrival by boat was actually more visual.

She added: “The point of this event was that I disappear in the water, like I’ve entered a new dimension.

“This is the start of a whole series of films that will be released over the summer, leading up to the finale in Osprey Leisure Centre on August 29, which will link in with the local opening of the Paralympic Games.”

Doreen Frankham, 75, of Tophill, Portland, said: “I think it was beautiful and this is a lovely place to do things like this. Evie Petty, aged 10, Beechcroft school, said: “It was amazing and beautiful.”

Luke Trim, aged 10, enjoyed the dancing and the impromptu song his fellow pupils sang called ‘Sue, where are you?’

• FOOTAGE of Creating a Spectacle! will be shown at the Olympic Live Sites, at the ICCI 360 degree arena, between July and September. It will also be part of the Unlimited Festival at the Southbank Centre, London from September 1 to 9. Tickets for the live pool performances, from August 29 to September 1, at Osprey Leisure Centre, Portland will become available at a later date online at wearefreewheeling.org.uk/freewheeling-performances

Comments (10)

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12:21pm Thu 28 Jun 12

IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE says...

More money thrown away?
I don't call this art, (puts on tin 'at and retires to bunker).
Why did they not expect strong currents in the Fleet?
More money thrown away? I don't call this art, (puts on tin 'at and retires to bunker). Why did they not expect strong currents in the Fleet? IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE
  • Score: 0

12:28pm Thu 28 Jun 12

crabbersinthecove says...

With the greatest respect what 'you' consider art is kind of irrelevant, sounds as though it was quite well attended.
With the greatest respect what 'you' consider art is kind of irrelevant, sounds as though it was quite well attended. crabbersinthecove
  • Score: 0

12:32pm Thu 28 Jun 12

IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE says...

crabbersinthecove
The attendance numbers do not necessarily equate to the artistic quality, the attendees won't necessarily known what to expect.
crabbersinthecove The attendance numbers do not necessarily equate to the artistic quality, the attendees won't necessarily known what to expect. IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE
  • Score: 0

12:57pm Thu 28 Jun 12

irisred says...

Well attended by school children and the elderly it seems.

However, for giving me a laugh, I like this story a lot.

I'll try not to focus on the utter waste of money this was. Hope they purchased the wheelchair and didn't 'borrow' it from the NHS!
Well attended by school children and the elderly it seems. However, for giving me a laugh, I like this story a lot. I'll try not to focus on the utter waste of money this was. Hope they purchased the wheelchair and didn't 'borrow' it from the NHS! irisred
  • Score: 0

1:26pm Thu 28 Jun 12

Artstudent says...

Easy to criticise, how about offering your ideas on what constitutes good art?

How many of you would have the nerves to try this feat?

Easier to sit in your armchairs complaining.

Sad.
Easy to criticise, how about offering your ideas on what constitutes good art? How many of you would have the nerves to try this feat? Easier to sit in your armchairs complaining. Sad. Artstudent
  • Score: 0

1:56pm Thu 28 Jun 12

wessex-andy says...

What I find surprising is that a local diver was so dumb that he didn't realise that there is a strong current between Ferrybridge and the Bridging Hard. I learned to dive there over 40 years ago and found that with practice I could cope with the current, but I would be surprised if any sort of wheelchair could cope with it except maybe for when the wind, weather and tide were just right.

However, I would not call this art -- whether undertaken by a able bodied, or disabled person. It's just more of our money being thrown at ridiculous projects.
What I find surprising is that a local diver was so dumb that he didn't realise that there is a strong current between Ferrybridge and the Bridging Hard. I learned to dive there over 40 years ago and found that with practice I could cope with the current, but I would be surprised if any sort of wheelchair could cope with it except maybe for when the wind, weather and tide were just right. However, I would not call this art -- whether undertaken by a able bodied, or disabled person. It's just more of our money being thrown at ridiculous projects. wessex-andy
  • Score: 0

2:20pm Thu 28 Jun 12

IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE says...

Artstudent
In my opinion, examples of real art are pictures painted by Robert Lenkiewicz or even the murals by street artist Banksy.
Pickled sharks, cows, underwater wheelchairs are not art.
Artstudent In my opinion, examples of real art are pictures painted by Robert Lenkiewicz or even the murals by street artist Banksy. Pickled sharks, cows, underwater wheelchairs are not art. IDONTKNOWIFITISTRRUE
  • Score: 0

5:39pm Thu 28 Jun 12

Genghis says...

Not what I consider to be art either. The resultant film of the escapade may have some artistic merit. Perhaps we'll be able to judge when it's shown later in the year.
Not what I consider to be art either. The resultant film of the escapade may have some artistic merit. Perhaps we'll be able to judge when it's shown later in the year. Genghis
  • Score: 0

7:53pm Thu 28 Jun 12

irisred says...

Art isn't about a display of nerves! Art is about talent, passion and expression of emotion. I fail to see how this is any of those.

And totally agree with 'Wessex Andy' how did they not know there was a strong undercurrent there, everyone local knows that.

Bet the Risk Assessment is a good read!

Still amusing!
Art isn't about a display of nerves! Art is about talent, passion and expression of emotion. I fail to see how this is any of those. And totally agree with 'Wessex Andy' how did they not know there was a strong undercurrent there, everyone local knows that. Bet the Risk Assessment is a good read! Still amusing! irisred
  • Score: 0

11:53am Fri 29 Jun 12

bollywood says...

Probably not local as most people know that there are very strong currents in that area. Not art just an accident waiting to happen
Probably not local as most people know that there are very strong currents in that area. Not art just an accident waiting to happen bollywood
  • Score: 0

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