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Public Art And Reef Recovery To Improve Whitsundays Tourism

By Ray White Whitsunday

Public Art Selection and Artists Workshop
The public call to artists as part of the Whitsundays Public Art
and Research Project was a huge success. The response was
fantastic with 73 separate submissions of public artworks for
consideration. An independent selection panel considered all
the applications and agreed on six sculptures to be
On the 6th and 7th of September Reef Ecologic convened a
workshop with the successful artists in Airlie Beach and Bowen.
A site visit to several prospective sites for artwork allowed the
group to meet stakeholders, discuss proposals and share
knowledge. The artists appreciated the opportunity to
collaborate at the beginning of a project. The outcome was
that this workshop enabled a cooperative, complimentary
developmental process for the public art.
The names of the individual artists and a team of three for the design of six public artworks were publicly
announced by Tourism Whitsundays with the support of local, state and federal governments on 2 October
(Media release HERE) and more details are below.
About the artists
Brian Robinson is an indigenous artist known for his printmaking and public sculptures in which he uses a
variety of techniques to produce bold, innovative and distinctive works such as the Citizens of the GBR
Gateway on Cairns Esplanade. Adriaan Vanderlugt has been creating sculptures since 1969 and was one of
three artists involved in the Whitsunday Sculpture Symposium at Airlie Beach. Col Henry has extensive art
and education related degrees, diplomas and certificates and has been sculpting full-time since 1995.
Caitlin Reilly, Jessa Lloyd and Kate Ford of the ‘Arts Based Collective’ have extensive experience across a
wide range of arts mediums including public sculpture where they draw their inspiration from the natural
Marine themed sculptures
The subjects of the sculptures include Turtle, Manta rays, Maori wrasse, Coral polyp and an indigenous
sculpture ‘Bwya’ containing 12 local species of fish and sharks. The largest sculpture is 6m. The sculptures
are made from a variety of materials including concrete, stainless steel and aluminium. The plan is to locate
the sculptures underwater where they can be viewed by snorkelers and SCUBA divers. There is ongoing
discussion with GBRMPA, QPWS and stakeholders about the preferred location(s) of the artworks in the
Whitsunday’s region. One of the objectives of the public art project is to provide new or enhanced tourism
experiences at sites damaged by Cyclone Debbie. With the art pieces having a marine wildlife theme, we
believe they will provoke conversation, education and deeper consideration of the marine environment.
This communique is prepared at the end of each month to provide key stakeholders with information relating to the ‘Reef
recovery to improve Whitsundays tourism’ project progress, consultation and activities.
“This project will provide direct
economic benefits for the
Whitsundays and Council looks
forward to continuing our strong
collaboration with the various
stakeholder groups to ensure the
Whitsunday Reef Recovery and
Public Art Project is a success,”
Mayor Andrew Willcox
Purpose of Art research and surveys
Between August and October we received a GBRMPA
Research permit to install and test the social and
environmental benefits and impacts of public art at
Langford Reef in the Whitsundays. The reason we
initiated this research project is to test the concept and
assist the future location and implementation of the
public art project above. We are particularly interested
in the public’s views of benefit, cost and risk of
underwater art and how it can assist tourism and the
reef. A short video of the installation and establishment
of the Public Art Research project can be found HERE.
Reef Restoration
Proposed reef restoration activities have been progressing well. We
have prepared materials and are ready for a rapid deployment once
approvals are received from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Authority. Stakeholder consultation revealed some remote sites, such
as Macona Inlet where coral has survived well through recent
bleaching and cyclonic disturbances. In September we explored
additional sites in the Whitsundays as potential source locations for
diverse coral species. We will appreciate assistance from volunteers
and citizen scientists both in Airlie Beach prior to deployment and in
the water when establishing the coral nurseries.
How you can help the reef
1. Complete the online social surveys on public art in the Whitsundays (LINK)
2. Volunteer with Reef Ecologic to assist with reef restoration ( or phone
0437 318802)
3. Share this communiqué with your social media and business networks
4. Take a friend snorkelling on the reef
5. Reduce your environmental footprint and take a specific action such as buy local food produce
Upcoming activities
Proposed activities and milestones in August
8 October – Whitsunday Charter Boat Industry Association AGM
8 October – Social research at Langford Island and moving art from intertidal to underwater.
9 October – Active Reef Restoration Phase 1 to commence (pending approvals)
18 October – Proserpine Indigenous Reference Group Meeting
13 November – Local Marine Advisory Committee Meeting (Airlie Beach)

Source: Tourism Whitsundays.

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