Just as the use of fused sand or silica in the form of glass had been significant in Listening Voices, he began to explore the use of clay in his sculptural work. As part of the process of erosion, deposition and geological manipulation through layering and folding, clay seemed one of the elemental materials and was part of a process he often experienced underwater. Dropping to the pitch black bottom of a Scottish sea loch, he had seen through the narrow beam of his torch the fine sediments carried by the tide and being deposited around him. Watching this deposition of future clays he had realised that by kneeling in the darkness on these deposits he had left an imprint that in its most subtle form would be recorded in these future clays or mudstones.
After a number of experiments constructing clay sculptures he assembled the group Deep Sea Smokers. These columns, almost like inverted chimneys came at a time when he was becoming aware of the relatively newly discovered deep sea vents or deep sea smokers. These hydrothermal vents are fissures in the earth’s crust in deep sea trenches, from which rises super heated water.
These submarine hydrothermal vents sustain complex communities fuelled by the chemicals dissolved in the vent fluids, and at a depth where they have no contact with sunlight. It had previously been thought that sunlight was essential to the food chain, and thus to life on earth, but the existence of these biological communities disproves this and raises speculation that these vents were the original triggers to the formation of life on earth.