ART BE­LOW SEA LEVEL Sculp­tor keen on un­der­wa­ter mu­seum plan

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - TONY RAGGATT tony. raggatt@ news. com. au

PLANS for un­der­wa­ter art museums in Townsville are tak­ing shape with com­pa­nies al­ready pledg­ing funds to de­velop the at­trac­tions here and in the wa­ters of the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Bri­tish sculp­tor Ja­son deCaires Tay­lor, ac­claimed for his work in the Caribbean, the At­lantic and Lon­don, is in the city this week to scope a project with a bud­get around $ 2 mil­lion.

The Strand, Mag­netic Is­land, the Palm Is­lands and a reef off Townsville are all be­ing con­sid­ered as sites for sculp­tures with themes in- clud­ing cli­mate change and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity for me to work in the world’s largest reef,” Mr deCaires Tay­lor said yes­ter­day.

“As an artist I al­ways like to try new things and to de­velop new con­cepts and that’s very much what this week is about, ab­sorb­ing the cul­ture here, the land­scapes, the ma­rine life and see­ing what con­cepts we can de­velop.

“For me it rep­re­sents a big op­por­tu­nity, ar­tis­ti­cally speak­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tally speak­ing.”

Mr deCaires Tay­lor has been work­ing on sculp­tures placed un­der­wa­ter for 11 years and now has close to 1000 pieces in the Caribbean, the At­lantic Ocean and in the United King­dom.

Sculp­tures weigh­ing up to 40 tonnes, made with pH neu­tral ce­ment and tex­tured to al­low coral polyps and ma­rine an­i­mals to at­tach have been de­vel­oped, at­tract­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of vis­i­tors and rais­ing funds for tourism and ma­rine pro­tec­tion.

Queens­land gen­eral man­ager of ma­rine op­er­a­tor SeaLink Paul Vic­tory, part of a Townsville steer­ing group, be­lieved the un­der­wa­ter art could add value to the re­gion’s ed­u­ca­tional tourism.

“Our ini­tial es­ti­mate – and we’ll know more af­ter this scop­ing and fea­si­bil­ity visit – is that we are look­ing to raise around $ 2 mil­lion to un­der­take the scope and scale of a project that will make a dif­fer­ence to our re­gion,” Mr Vic­tory said.

“Ja­son’s work at­tracts many, many thou­sands of vis­i­tors. We are talk­ing about tens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors to the re­gion to see the scale of this sort of work.”

Mr Vic­tory said that The Strand site could be on­shore or in the tidal zone to in­form vis­i­tors about the pres­ence of the re­gion’s un­der­wa­ter art.

Other works could be in­cluded in the tidal zone of a Mag­netic Is­land snorkel trail with two ma­jor col­lec­tions around the Palm Is­lands group and an outer reef.

The Mor­ris Group, own­ers of the North­ern Es­capes Col­lec­tion in­clud­ing The Ville Re­sort- Casino and Or­pheus Is­land Lodge, yes­ter­day an­nounced a do­na­tion of $ 200,000 to the project.

Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

AQUA MAN: Un­der­wa­ter artist Ja­son deCaires Tay­lor.

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