Great Barrier Reef in north-eastern coastline of Australia is one of the nation’s most visited destination. A new attraction in the region is the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA). As the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, MOUA will act to highlight reef conservation, restoration and education on a global scale. This unique gallery offers a contemporary platform to share the stories of the reef, and the culture of its First Nations people, as well as spark a meaningful conversation and solution to reef conservation.
Located approximately 80kms of the coast of Townsville, the art collection installed 18 metres beneath the surface on the natural sandy inlet of John Brewer Reef have been conceptualized by world-famous underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor who is among the first wave of new-generation artists to dive into the underwater realm and highlight it as an artistic exhibition space.His permanent underwater works span several continents, including in the Bahamas, Mexico, and Lanzarote, with each project exploring themes of conservation and environmental activism. All projects aim to open debate about our relationship to our seas and highlight the importance of conserving them.
Two installations are already in place with a further two locations planned at Magnetic and Palm Islands
The MOUA will feature incredible installations and sculptures that will be partially and fully submerged with the changing tides. One of the first, and largest, artworks to be installed is The Coral Greenhouse, which is uniquely designed to allow current to pass through while providing a cultivation platform for juvenile corals.“Our oceans are going through rapid change, and there are huge threats, from rising sea temperatures to acidification, and a large amount of pollution entering the system,” Jason said.
“Part of creating an underwater museum is about changing our value systems – thinking about the sea floor as something sacred, something that we should be protecting and not taking for granted.”
The project’s collaborators are also very conscious about the potentially negative consequences of an increase in tourism to the region.
“MOUA is looking at many operational models, from encouraging local visitors more than overseas ones, to electric powerboats and providing stationary pontoons at the site to reduce the amount of travel needed,” according to Jason.
As a true artist and environmentalist, Jason believes that once the works are submerged they no longer belong to him – they belong to the ocean and all the creatures that live there.