Jason deCaires Taylor underwater art
Jason deCaires Taylor underwater art

Whitsundays to sink first underwater art on the Reef

THE Whitsundays is set to install Queensland's first underwater art at Langford Reef, near Hayman Island, ahead of similar plans by Townsville tourism leaders.

The installation at Langford Reef will be funded through the Queensland Government and Federal Government's $7 million Tourism Recovery Fund, to help the Whitsundays tourism industry to recover from Cyclone Debbie.

Tourism Whitsundays general manager Tash Wheeler said the project was a great outcome, for both the Whitsundays and the rest of Queensland, to have secured the first underwater sculpture to be placed in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Four sculptures by Whitsundays artist Adriaan Vanderlugt have been unveiled and include fish, a nudibranch and crab up to 1.8m long and weighing about 300kg.

The project is a collaboration by stakeholders including the two levels of government, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Whitsunday Regional Council and consultant Reef Ecologic, a company also involved in the Townsville proposal.

Reef Ecologic director Dr Adam Smith said the four Whitsundays artworks would provide a "proof of concept" research opportunity to document the reactions of locals and tourists visiting the artworks in a marine setting.

"We propose to install the artworks in early August and move them from the beach to intertidal to underwater environments a month at a time and the artworks will be secured and monitored to prevent interference and damage," he aid.

Townsville stakeholders have proposed a Museum of Underwater Art, using work by acclaimed international artist Jason deCaires Taylor and have received $2 million in funding from the State Government.

It is tipped as the first of its kind to be built in the southern hemisphere with potential to inject $42 million into the economy.

Mr deCaires Taylor is due to start work in late September, at a site near the former Queens Hotel in the CBD, where people will be able to see him at work.

The first artwork is planned to be installed off The Strand in January next year.

Further stages are planned on the Great Barrier Reef, Magnetic Island and Palm Island.