UNDER WATER WORLD
WORLD- RENOWNED BRITISH ARTIST JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR THIS WEEK HAS BEEN TOURING SITES OFF TOWNSVILLE WHICH COULD BE LOCATIONS FOR ONE OF HIS UNIQUE UNDERWATER MUSEUMS, REPORTS DOMANII CAMERON.
BELOW the surface of the ocean, artist Jason deCaires Taylor has imagined and created new worlds. With the changing landscape of ocean beds as a backdrop, Mr deCaires Taylor has created his fantastic artworks off coastlines around the world.
And now the internationally renowned British artist could create more of his visionary works on Townsville’s doorstep to draw tourists to the region.
Mr deCaires Taylor has been scouting locations near Townsville this week for Australia’s first underwater museum, visiting Palm Island, Magnetic Island and The Strand.
“It ( Townsville) is fantastic, it’s a beautiful landscape and has beautiful sights,” he said.
“I’m sure we can create something quite special, Townsville is ideally located.”
The artist was invited to the region by an Australian Museum of Underwater Art Project Team backed by Townsville Enterprise, the Townsville and Palm Island councils, James Cook University, environmental consultancy Reef Ecologic and marine operator SeaLink.
Community leaders believe his works could not only boost tourism but draw attention to the growing needs of the reef.
The world’s first underwater museum, which was created by Mr deCaires Taylor off Grenada in 2006, is now listed by National Geographic as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World.
The artist then went on to create a growing number of works, includ- ing the Museo Subacuatico de Arte off the coast of Cancun, Mexico in 2009.
It resulted in annual visitor numbers increasing almost 400,000.
His works feature life- size sculptures of humans and other objects made out of cement.
While many pieces can be seen while diving and snorkelling, Mr de- Caires Taylor has often positioned the works along shorelines, including the River Thames outside Parliament House in London.
These can be seen without having to swim, depending on tides.
The project needs $ 2 million to proceed with SeaLink expecting to announce corporate financial support next week. Already, the Morris Group, which owns The Ville Resort- Casino and the Orpheus Island Resort, has pledged $ 200,000.
Mr deCaires Taylor said Townsville had an amazing coastline.
“It’s been really good in Townsville, quite intense,” he said.
“We’ve met a lot of people in a few days. You’ve got Magnetic Island, Palm Island and then you have the Great Barrier Reef.
“I loved The Strand. Each one stood out in its own right.”
The artist said it was important to create something that worked well with the environment.
“I’m not interested in taking anything for granted,” he said.
“I don’t have any ideas just yet ( Townsville), I’m not trying to push
myself into a corner. I’m trying to do something that I haven’t done before.”
No stranger to North Queensland, Mr deCaires Taylor lived in Airlie Beach for 18 years while a dive instructor.
He said North Queensland would provide the perfect space to create a new tourism attraction.
“This ( negotiations) has been going on for around a year when we first touched base — it was all very intangible,” he said. “But it’s great being here now and feeling it solidify and becoming something real.
“I always follow the process of using locals, they’re all life casts ( sculptures),” he said. “I have to be on site to do that process. I’m sure there will be many stages to follow, it’s exciting. There’s a lot of pulling together different parties.”
Mr deCaires Taylor said he had a good understanding of the reefs.
“I always thought it would be wonderful to do something with the sea,” he said. “Our sea covers two thirds of our planet and is a largely unknown entity.”
UNDERWATER WORLDS: Pictured are examples of the work of Jason deCaires Taylor from around the world. Mr deCaires Taylor ( left left ) ) visited Townsville this week looking for new locations for his art.
Picture: WESLEY MONTS