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How A Humble Coral Polyp Inspired A 40 Tonne Sculpture

By Ray White Whitsunday

A single coral polyp is less than a millimetre in size, but when it’s joined by billions of others, it creates an organism so big it can be seen from space.

Sculptor Jessa Lloyd has used the humble coral polyp as the inspiration for her piece, Anthozoa, the final underwater sculpture in the Queensland and federal governments’ joint $7 million Tourism Recovery Fund.

The fund was designed to boost the Whitsunday tourism industry after the damage wreaked by Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Miss Lloyd said her piece was the largest single underwater sculpture on earth.

TAKING SHAPE: Sculptor Jessa Lloyd in front of her piece, Anthozoa , with her two boys, Luca and Joah, at Strathdickie Engineering.Georgia Simpson

Reef Ecologic managing director Professor Adam Smith has helped facilitate the sculpture program, and has staged extensive community consultation in the lead-up to completion of the artwork.

While Mr Smith said he couldn’t say for certain if Miss Lloyd’s piece was the biggest single underwater sculpture in the world, he said the synergy the work had with the reef was incredible and unique.

Anthozoa is expected to weigh in at more than 40tonnes of metal and marine-grade concrete once its completed, and more than 1000 linear metres of metal has been used to construct the frame, the majority of which has been shaped by hand, to create fluid and natural lines and curves.

Miss Lloyd said there was a rigorous approval process with the Great Barrier Marine Park authority relating to the materials used.

The marine-grade concrete is used globally in reef restoration projects.

When complete, Anthozoa will have 310sqm of surface for coral to nest on.

“Within the belly of Anthozoa there have been created many crevices and hidey holes for all sorts of marine creatures to shelter and live,” Miss Lloyd said.

“Species like painted crays, urchins, moray eels, sea snakes, coral trout, Maori wrasse will inhabit the piece in addition to soft and hard corals.”

Contemporary artist and Ngaro and Juru First Nations person Nicky Bidju-Pryor has been working on the ‘mouth’ of Anthozoa – the entrance into the cavity.

“His work will be the heart of the piece, which he will overlay the stories of the Ngaro seafarers who lived sustainably around the islands and coastlines of the Whitsundays,” Miss Lloyd said.

“Creating this piece is no mean feat and there are brave people who have believed in my vision and without whom there would be no Anthozoa.”

Mr Smith said he was looking forward to the finished product being placed at Blue Pearl Bay, joining the other six underwater sculptures around the Whitsundays.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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