Australia has gained another underwater sculpture park for the benefit of scuba divers and snorkellers, as an installation at the end of Busselton Jetty was officially opened in late January.
For once the work isn’t by ubiquitous British underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor but by a collective of 12 Western Australian sculptors. Their 13 works, ranging in scale from 2 x 2m to 10 x 6m, make up the state's first such artificial diver attraction, at what is described as its premier eco-tourism destination, which draws more than 700,000 visitors a year.
The sculptures were installed during the Australian winter months of June and July last year while the Leeuwin current was flowing south from Exmouth / Coral Bay to Busselton / Geographe Bay, helping to kick-start the marine-life colonisation process.
This also meant that the many guests who went snorkelling to view the exhibits at the official opening were able to appreciate how rapidly that colonisation was occurring.
The sculptures are made from a range of materials including mild steel, ceramics, bronze and marine-grade concrete, and the rate of marine-life growth varies depending on the material used. The mild-steel sculptures have zinc anodes attached to reduce corrosion.
The town of Busselton lies south of Bunbury and Perth and its heritage-listed, timber-piled jetty stretches 1.84km out to sea, making it the longest pier in the southern hemisphere and second-longest in the world. The Underwater Sculpture Park is spread out among the pylons around the end of the jetty.
Built in 1865, the structure is run by the non-profit community organisation Busselton Jetty Inc, which says it pays for maintenance and repairs by contributing 25% of its revenue, including that now derived from selling Aus $4 dive/snorkel passes for those wanting to take a close look at the sculptures.
Another arm of the organisation, the Busselton Jetty Environment Foundation, is concerned with marine conservation and will monitor colonisation in the Underwater Sculpture Park, which was created under the supervision of jetty environment manager Sophie Teede.
“The Underwater Sculpture Park stands as a testament to the community’s dedication to the preservation of our natural treasures,” said Busselton Jetty CEO Lisa Shreeve at the opening ceremony. “This new addition to the jetty is a remarkable fusion of art, tourism and marine conservation.”