Sydney - It is a must-see attraction for visitors heading to the easterly Australian state of Queensland, where it stretches more than 2 560km in the aptly named Coral Sea – an enclave of twitching, ever-growing marine life made up of about 3 000 individual reefs and 900 islands that has been listed as a Unesco World Heritage site since 1981.
But, this past week, for four brief days, the Great Barrier Reef was transformed into something more usually found in cities – an art gallery.
This is, however, an art gallery with a difference. It is – as you might expect – under water.
The reef played host to several works by Queensland painter BJ Price – an abstract expressionist who has long been inspired by the oceanic wonder on his doorstep. A selection of his works – six aluminium prints, treated to protect them from water damage – were transferred to the bottom of the sea by scuba divers.
The paintings, daubed in bright swirls of red, yellow, green, orange and blue, were designed to complement their surroundings, and were on display on special easels set up on the sea bed, with fish flitting around them.
Of course, culture vultures intrigued by the exhibition had to make far greater efforts to see the artworks than simply turning up at a museum. They had to dive down to catch a glimpse of the art in its temporary location.
The exhibition could be reached via an hour-and-45-minute ferry ride from Cairns. A local operator, Reef Magic Cruises, transported tourists to a platform set up above.
And while X has long marked the spot on treasure maps, in this case the site of the exhibition was indicated by an enormous floating turtle sculpture.
Price has long been inspired by the Great Barrier Reef, and considers it his muse. He hopes that the exhibition will encourage visitors to glimpse this natural phenomenon for themselves, although he insists that part of the point of the show is to underline the importance of the reef, and the necessity of its continued protection.
The exhibition was set up with the assistance of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and was carefully monitored to ensure that no human footprint was left behind. – Daily Mail