Artist Survival Suit V1, 2019
This piece was seen in progress in the OpenHand OpenSpace (OHOS) exhibition Process, where I worked on the jacket and discussed all things nuclear with visitors to the space, and in its current form in Launch On Warning, at Garage Gallery 62. The suit is a deconstructed US Army M65 snow suit, an oversized coverall designed to go over combat dress to provide camouflage in cold climates. The M65 has been shortened, reduced in width, and augmented with a new padded collar, reflective foil, embroidery, and trimming.
The freestyle machine embroidery and applique takes the form of White Oleander flowers; the White Oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima, so chosen as it was the first flower to bloom in the aftermath of the atomic bombing on the 6th of August 1945.
The hood has been cut off and extended, with reflective tape and portions of a sniper camouflage veil added to shield the wearer’s face.
In its construction, I am keen to show commitment to the authenticity of the materials used with regards type, purpose, and aesthetics, but with acknowledgement of the impracticality of this garment in the real world. The work should insulate the wearer, engendering feelings of comfort and protection when worn, even if within a couple of seconds from detonation the wearer has been vaporised.
If the wearer was lucky enough to be outside the radius of the initial fireball, anti-flash white might initially offer some level of additional protection from the thermal radiation, however the buildings brought down, window glass shredding whatever it touches, and fires set ablaze from broken pipes would quickly negate any benefits.
The 2017 population of the borough of Reading is estimated to be around 160,000.
Taking OHOS as ground zero, a 350 kiloton (kt) airburst at 2200m altitude from the single W-78 warhead found in most Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) would result in an estimated 110,000 fatalities, with 159,000 injuries (Wellerstein, 2019).
For reference, the devices used in the 1945 attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had yields of 15 kt and 20 kt respectively.
Yield data on the United Kingdom’s submarine-based Trident system (manufactured and maintained 11 miles away in Aldermaston) has only been estimated, but is suggested to be 100 kt per warhead. Each missile carries five warheads.
CLARFIELD, G. H., & WIECEK, W. M. (1984). Nuclear America: military and civilian nuclear power in the United States, 1940-1980. New York, Harper & Row.
Wellerstein, A. (2019). NUKEMAP by Alex Wellerstein. [online] Nuclearsecrecy.com. Available at: https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/ [Accessed 29 Jun. 2019].
Union of Concerned Scientists (2015). Frequently Asked Questions About Taking Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger Alert. [online] Ucsusa.org. Available at: