ART BELOW SEA LEVEL Sculptor keen on underwater museum plan
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.
AQUA MAN: Underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor.