COLLABORATE: A combined team effort from Scott Lee, Adriaan Vanderlugt and Arthur Gaby.
COLLABORATE: A combined team effort from Scott Lee, Adriaan Vanderlugt and Arthur Gaby. Georgia Simpson

Whitsunday artist's work to help restore reef

STRATHDICKIE'S Adriaan Vanderlugt has been creating works of art out of bone, wood and metal for more than 50 years.

In June 2017, Reef Ecologic launched a global call to artists and commissioned six scupltures after receiving 73 applications.

Mr Vanderlugt couldn't believe it when not just one of his works was selected, but two.

"It took me a lot of drawings to get to that stage," he said.

"I've been sculpting for 50 years and I was saying to a mate the other day it took me all those 50 years to get to the point that I'm at now."

Starting last August, Mr Vanderlugt made countless paper "mock-ups" and miniature sculptures out of balsa wood to get one of his designs just right and enable him to understand how the sculpture would be formed.

The 3.2m-wide aluminium sculpture was constructed by Scott Lee.

Indigenous artist Arthur Gaby is responsible for the intricate design work, which tells a Dreamtime story.

There are 74 different sized circles, which represent the 74 islands in the Whitsundays.

The largest circle is Whitsunday Island, where Mr Gaby's grandmother was born.

There are serpents on the manta ray's wings and its "U" shapes are the Aboriginal symbol for people.

Mr Vanderlugt said Mr Gaby's story was incredibly moving.

The sculpture is part of the Whitsunday Reef Recovery and Public Art Project, with the marine art installations designed to combine tourism benefits and reef rehabilitation.

The manta ray is proposed to be placed at Manta Ray Bay to assist the tourism industry. Along with the proposed underwater artworks, Reef Ecologic has also been working on a reef restoration project that is continuing to yield positive results.

Coral fragments sourced from surrounding reefs were planted in nurseries at Manta Ray Bay, off Hook Island, and Blue Pearl Bay, off Hayman Island, in November last year.


Coral fragments from the underwater nursery.
Coral fragments from the underwater nursery. Contributed

Replanting coral is not dissimilar to replanting succulents.

However, marine scientist Nathan Cook said that five years ago reef restoration wasn't really on the radar.

"It's really good to see this trial is progressing as hoped and it's interesting to see a potential new tourism experience," he said.