Divers go deep to draw the Museum of Underwater Art on the Great Barrier Reef

They say the best way to start a new hobby is to jump deep, and a group of divers in North Queensland have done just that.

They have participated in a unique art workshop on the Great Barrier Reef, delving below the waves to experiment with underwater drawing.

Participants traveled some 70 kilometers from the Townsville shoreline to John Brewer Reef, home of the award-winning Museum of Underwater Art.

Armed with graphite pencils and synthetic waterproof paper, the divers drew the sculptures and marine life 16 meters below sea level.

A diver uses a pencil to draw a picture underwater
Divers used graphite pencils and synthetic paper to draw underwater. (Supplied: Alana Wilson-Blyth)

Artist and scuba instructor Kerrie Everett Horrocks said it was the first time it had been held at the museum.

“Having such a beautiful and varied site [as this] and being able to give divers the materials they need to go down and capture sketches at the site is really unique,” he said.

A smiling woman in scuba gear holds a notepad in the water
The workshop was the brainchild of dive instructor and artist, Kerrie Everett Horrocks. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

Ms. Everett Horrocks has been a professional diver and exhibition artist for two decades.

He said he hoped his workshop would become a repeat attraction for divers and creatives eager to see the Museum of Underwater Art from a new perspective.

“As a dive and learn site, I think it’s in a class of its own,” he said.

People sit on the deck of a diving boat
The Museum of Underwater Art is a two-hour boat ride from Townsville.(ABC North Qld: Jade Toomey)

Participant Skye Elizabeth Carroll said the opportunity to combine two passions had been unforgettable.

“I’m already an artist, so to bring art together with diving is amazing,” she said.

“You need to have the right buoyancy and sometimes there will be a little bit of current and it will move you.

“Once you’re there and you get into that zen…the challenging part is forgetting that you need to control your air.”

A smiling woman holds up a drawing while sitting on the deck of a boat on the reef.
Skye Elizabeth Carroll says that the experience of drawing underwater is unforgettable. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

Ms. Carroll took the plunge at the Museum of Underwater Art when it was first installed in 2019.

“Going down now, three years later, it’s incredible: there’s so much wildlife here, so much coral growth, the number of fish that are starting to arrive is incredible,” he said.

Back on dry land, the group spent the second day of the workshop at Townsville’s Umbrella Studio, where they developed artwork from their field sketches.

A woman paints a picture of an underwater sculpture with reference photos
Painting by Skye Elizabeth Carroll of a sculpture at the Museum of Underwater Art. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

They were guided through the process by Ms. Everett Horrocks and fellow artist Tony Fitzsimmons.

“Everyone has a different interpretation of the images they got yesterday, which is just wonderful,” Fitzsimmons said.

“We have people who work with watercolors, pastels, charcoal on a variety of different surfaces, and I think everyone can tell their own story.”

Two women work on drawings in an art studio.
Participants use underwater sketches to develop their artwork in a studio. (ABC North Qld: Lily Nothling)

Sandra Moore said the workshop had given her a taste of the art world, while ticking off a wish list at the Museum of Underwater Art.

“I don’t call myself an artist… but I am a diver,” she said.

“So to combine both and have this experience as a world first was very appealing to me, and it was an amazing experience overall.

“Putting pen to paper was actually easier than I thought it would be underwater.”

A group of divers at the Museum of Underwater Art
Divers explore and draw the coral greenhouse.(Supplied: Alana Wilson-Blyth)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *