Showing off the manta ray sculpture to go on display at Whitsunday Coast Airport is artist Adriaan Vandelugt (centre), Arthur Gabey who designed the Indigenous motif (left) and Scott Lee from Strathdickie Engineering who helped fabricate it.
Showing off the manta ray sculpture to go on display at Whitsunday Coast Airport is artist Adriaan Vandelugt (centre), Arthur Gabey who designed the Indigenous motif (left) and Scott Lee from Strathdickie Engineering who helped fabricate it. Contributed

Sculptures a work of art

THREE sculptures which will eventually form part of an underwater tourism trail will be on display in Bowen and Proserpine first.

Locals and visitors will get to have a chance to have a close-up look at a statue of a manta ray designed by Strathdickie's Adriaan Vanderlugt at Whitsunday Coast Airport in Proserpine from next week.

It is among three sculptures which will be able to be seen on land - the other two were installed at Bowen's Big Mango last week.

All three are part of Reef Ecologic's Whitsunday Reef Recovery and Public Art Project which will see six sculptures placed underwater throughout the Whitsundays for tourists to see while snorkelling and diving in the area.

Mr Vanderlugt designed both the manta ray at Proserpine and a Maori wrasse at Bowen.

 

Adriaan Vanderlugt with his Maori wrasse sculpture on display at the Big Mango in Bowen.
Adriaan Vanderlugt with his Maori wrasse sculpture on display at the Big Mango in Bowen. Monique Preston

Both of Mr Vanderlugt's sculptures are made out of aluminium and are designed so fish will be able to swim through them.

While Mr Vanderlugt designed the pieces, Scott Lee at Strathdickie Engineering did the welding work on them.

Mr Vanderlugt said he was pleased to be part of the project after having spent 50 years sculpting animals and fish.

"Without the environment we can't exist. I have focused on that my entire career," he said.

The manta ray is 3.6m wide and 3.6m long and was designed in collaboration with Indigenous artist Arthur Gabey, who drew the motif for the back.

NSW artist Col Henry designed the other sculpture on display at Bowen - one of a hawksbill turtle.

Mr Henry said he chose to make a Hawksbill turtle because it is endangered.

 

 

Col Henry with his turtle sculpture which is on display at the Big Mango in Bowen.
Col Henry with his turtle sculpture which is on display at the Big Mango in Bowen. Monique Preston

Mr Henry spent several years visiting the Whitsundays and during those times he would always see turtles asleep on the bottom of the ocean at Black Island.

"I often dreamt about swimming with them," he said.

"That was my inspiration for doing a turtle.

"I chose to do an endangered species because it is all about education."

Mr Henry designed and built his 6.5m long and 6m high sculpture himself.

He designed it especially so coral and marine life could grow on it.

"It will be a living entity," he said.

Mr Henry is especially pleased to be able to help with the education about the endangered sea turtle.

"We've got to look after our planet," he said.

"This project is the most important story I have to tell. It's an endangered species."

Reef Ecologic managing director Adam Smith is hoping the underwater art will be an added benefit for tourism as well as educating people about the area once it is in place. The manta ray will eventually be placed in Manta Ray Bay, while the turtle will put at Langford Reef and the wrasses at Blue Pearl Bay.

Bowen's Horseshoe Bay will play host to Bwya - an indigenous column with 10 local fish carved on a column to represent a water spout.

WANT TO SEE MORE LIKE THIS?