Chris Byrnes studied art with Joe Osser at The Cape Town Art Centre, but diving was always his passion. This became his primary focus when he discovered a VOC shipwreck in Table Bay, which was subsequently identified as "the Oosterland". “The Oosterland” was wrecked in 1697 and became the first shipwreck officially worked archeologically.
In Sept, 2012 Chris was issued a permit by SAHRIS to recover salvage from the wreck. During the long Cape winter months, however, Chris could no longer dive and had time to focus on his art.
He creates unique, one of a kind, works of art incorporating Kangsxi Dynasty porcelain, along with artifacts such as the wood and copper sheathing which he personally salvaged from the wreck.
The Oosterlandt arrives in Table Bay 25 April 1688
Shipwrecked in 1697
Ship’s type: Spiegelretourschip ("Transom return ship" built for transport between the Dutch Republic and the settlements and strongholds of the Dutch East India Company in the East Indies. On an outward voyage these ships carried guns and bricks for the settlements and strongholds, and silver and golden coins to purchase Asian goods. On a return journey the ships carried the goods that were purchased, such as spices, fabrics, and china. In both directions the ships carried victuals, clothes, and tools for the sailors and soldiers on the ship.
Construction: Built in 1684 for the Chamber of Zeeland at the VOC ship yard in Middelburg.
Term: In use by the VOC from 1685 until it was wrecked on 24 May 1697 at the Cape of Good Hope.At the beginning of May 1697, the Oosterland, under the captainship of Pieter van Ede, was anchored at Table Bay, waiting for more ships to make the return voyage to Holland in convoy. The Oosterland had just arrived from an enduring three months return voyage from Ceylon (Sri-Lanka). On 23 May 1697, a strong gale started and a ship nearby the Oosterland, lost her anchor and slammed into her. The next day the Oosterland went drifting and she ran aground along with the Waddinxveen near Salt River Mouth. On grounding, she lost her main mast and broke up. Out of the more than 300 people on board, only 2 survived. The Oosterland was discovered by divers in 1988, and a maritime archaeological investigation of the site has been done since.