Cornelia Dickens, Private Investigator (2013)


This project begun with an investigation into disasters that had occurred in Chatham Historic Dockyards, where our studios were based. In the archives, I found a tragedy that happened on the 15th December 1954, in which the caisson holding the submarine HMS Talent in the dry dock collapsed causing her to be swept out into the river. The accident claimed 4 lives.


I then created the fictional character, Cornelia Dickens, a Private Investigator. The project subsequently took a theatrical turn, me becoming this character and constructing her office in the exhibition. It was the first time that I had done a performance and used live sound. The clunking of the typewriter was projected through a guitar amp, which was placed in a secret space above – full of artefacts from the previous uses of the building. As well as the sound of the typewriter, there was also sound created by the bells connected to the letters spelling out ‘SABOTAGE’.


On the 15th December, I did a special performance to commemorate the tragedy, in which my investigation notes were submerged into water before being pinned up onto the wall.