Graveyard of Lost Species

Graveyard of Lost Species, YoHa and Critical Art Ensemble, 2015, photograph Simon Fowler
Graveyard of Lost Species, YoHa and Critical Art Ensemble, 2015, photograph Simon Fowler
Sailing on the Souvenir ship wreck to shore
The Souvenir at Belton Way, July 2015
Graveyard of Lost Species, YoHa and Critical Art Ensemble, 2015
Graveyard of Lost Species, YoHa and Critical Art Ensemble, 2015

An ambitious collaborative project and public monument by artists YoHa and Critical Art Ensemble in partnership with Arts Catalyst

The Graveyard of Lost Species is a temporary public monument, created from a local wreck, the Souvenir - a 40ft 12 ton Thames Bawley fishing boat, which was reclaimed from the estuary mud. With the names of varied "lost species" (flora, fauna, occupations, words) from the estuary laser carved onto the boat’s surface and interior, she was sailed back and installed on the Leigh marshes as a part of the local landscape.

During 2015 and 2016, the artists led a set of enquiries with people in Leigh-on-Sea and Southend to gather local knowledge of and expertise about "lost species" - wildlife, marine creatures, livelihoods, fishing methods, landmarks and local dialects that once flourished in the Estuary and are now disappearing. Working with local craftsmen, the artists then laser cut the lost species into the vessel’s surface.

The project is intended to act as a monument to Leigh’s past and future, as well as uncovering and highlighting local knowledge about the changing ecology, society and industry of the Thames estuary.

The artwork is dedicated to the people of Leigh and Southend.

Graveyard of Lost Species is part of 'Wrecked on The Intertidal Zone', an art and citizen science project that uncovers and highlights local knowledge about the changing ecology, society and industry of the Thames estuary. Artists YoHa, Critical Art Ensemble, Andy Freeman and Fran Gallardo, with The Arts Catalyst, are collaborating with local people in Southend and Leigh-on-Sea.

See the Wrecked website for videos and artists updates:

Graveyard of Lost Species Launch Event Programme
Sat 23 July 2016
2.30pm – 3.30pm Artist talk, Focal Point Gallery, Southend
With artists Yoha (Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji) and Critical Art Ensemble (Steve Kurtz, Steve Barnes and Lucia Sommer), chaired by Claudia Lastra, Programme Manager, Arts Catalyst.
The artists will discuss their long-term project Graveyard of Lost Species, an anti-monument inscribed with lost and disappearing species of the estuary based in Leigh-on-Sea. The anti-monument is a 30ft boat wreck that will slowly corrode. It is now installed publically on the salt marshes near to the gateway to the Thames. The artist duos will discuss their unique collaboration, as well as processes and production of the project.
Emerging in the late 1980s, Critical Art Ensemble and YoHa are pioneers in a radical art practice that deployed new media as a tactical tool to re-claim, rethink and re-envisage the politics, popular media and artistic practice of the time.
3.30pm – 4.30pm Travel to site of Graveyard of Lost Species installation at Leigh on Sea.
4.30pm – 6.00pm Reception and installation viewing on site
Please bring waterproof footwear as the marsh area is very muddy. The location is less than 10 minutes walk from Leigh-on-Sea train station, there are parking bays at Leigh-on-Sea station and Leigh Marshes car park.
Arrive at Leigh-on-Sea train station, when exiting turn right towards the Estuary, walk past the car park (on your right) and walk towards the estuary path. Walk along the estuary path (west) towards Benfleet, you will come to a cross path and a hard standing where the boat is situated.
Travelling to Leigh-on-Sea for drinks reception
This project is sponsored by Cory Environmental Trust and Arts Council England
Focal Point Gallery and Southern Borough Council


Graveyard of Lost Species is led by artist group YoHa, Graham Harwood and Matsuko Yokokoji, who have worked together since 1994 and are local Leigh-on-Sea residents. YoHa's polemical vision and technical tinkering has powered several celebrated collaborations, establishing an international reputation for pioneering critical art and socially engaged projects. Harwood and Yokokoji co-founded the pioneering artists’ group Mongrel (1996-2007) and established the MediaShed, a free-media lab (2005-2008), which reached international fame through its film ‘Duallists’ shown at over 30 film festivals around the world.

Critical Art Ensemble undertook a residency in Leigh-on-Sea, building on research from two previous visits, working alongside Yoha on Lost Species. Since 1987, Critical Art Ensemble has explored the intersections between art, critical theory and political activism. Projects have included recreating historical bio-warfare experiments off the coast of Scotland; setting up a lab in a gallery to reverse engineer genetically modified seeds; and planting endangered flowers on public lands and urban social space threatened by property developers.


Funders and Supporters

This project is supported by The Arts Council England and Arts Catalyst. Many thanks to Leigh Town Council, Southend Borough Council, Metal (Southend) and Belton Way Small Craft Club with advice from Natural England and Essex Wildlife Trust.