Diamond Coast

Dillon Marsh

2013 - 2020

The Diamond Coast is a remote, arid and exposed stretch of land on the western shores of Southern Africa. It is a land of detritus, crafted from a decades long battle between humans and nature. Vast tracts of this land have been stripped and sifted. Everything between the surface and the bedrock meters below has been upended by giant earthmoving machines or by manpower alone. All this in search for diamonds which were deposited here over millions of years by rivers that carve away at the continent’s interior. This is a limited resource however, and declining yields have now forced most mines to close or dramatically downscale. Land rehabilitation efforts have fallen short, and large areas remain bare of vegetation and exposed to erosion. Topsoil is once again being stripped, this time by the wind. Airborne sand now threatens to bury everything in its path.

The small towns that once serviced the mines have dismantled their checkpoints and opened to the public. Many of the original residents have left to find work elsewhere, while others remained to scavenge what was left behind. In turn, newcomers have begun to settle here, taking advantage of low property prices and seeking a new start. They bring with them optimism and ambitious plans, but the harsh elements are unrelenting, and infrastructure is suffering without the financial support of large-scale mining operations.

Driven by curiosity and spanning several years, my visits have inadvertently allowed me to become a witness to the changes taking place. It is unclear what will happen next, maybe this struggling coast will find a new lease of life, or maybe it will slowly collapse now that its profitability has been exhausted. In the meantime, entropy holds sway here on the Diamond Coast.

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  • Weathered rock,
    near Koekenaap, 2017

  • Edge of town,
    Hondeklip Bay, 2017

  • Land of detritus,
    Alexander Bay, 2020

  • Meandering track,
    Oranjemund, 2013

  • Entry prohibited,
    Koingnaas, 2017

  • Happenings beyond,
    Alexander Bay, 2020

  • Tina’s trick,
    Kleinzee, 2020

  • Palm prints,
    Kleinzee, 2020

  • Cockpit,
    near Koingnaas, 2020

  • Convoy,
    near Koingnaas, 2020

  • Screening,
    near Kleinzee, 2020

  • Scanning, near Kleinzee, 2020

  • Sweepings,
    Koingnaas, 2020

  • Overburden dumps,
    Kleinzee, 2020

  • Repurposed pool,
    Kleinzee, 2020

  • Maw,
    Port Nolloth, 2018

  • Hair salon,
    Kleinzee, 2020

  • Sunbathers,
    Alexander Bay, 2020

  • Displacement,
    Port Nolloth, 2020

  • Crux