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

A scuba diver holding up a drawing underwater

They say the best way to take up a new hobby is to jump in the deep end, and a group of divers in north Queensland has done just that.

They’ve taken part in a unique art workshop on the Great Barrier Reef, delving beneath the waves to experiment with underwater drawing.

Participants traveled about 70 kilometers off the Townsville coast to John Brewer Reef, the home of the award-winning Museum of Underwater Art.

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

Divers used graphite pencils and synthetic paper to draw underwater. (Supplied: Alana Wilson-Blyth)

Artist and dive instructor, Kerrie Everett Horrocks, said it was a first for the museum.

“Having a site as beautiful and varied [as this] and being able to give divers the materials they need to go down and capture sketches on site is really unique,” she 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 exhibiting artist for two decades.

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

“As a site to dive on and learn from, I think it’s one of a kind,” she said.

People sit on the deck of a dive 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 put art together with scuba diving is amazing,” she said.

“You need to get your buoyancy just right, and sometimes that there’ll be a tiny bit of current and it’ll move you.

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

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

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

“Coming down now three years later is incredible — there’s so much wildlife here, so much coral growth, the amount of fish that are starting to come in is incredible,” she said.

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

A woman paints a picture of an underwater sculpture with reference photos
Skye Elizabeth Carroll’s painting of a sculpture in 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 that they got yesterday, which is just wonderful,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

“We have people working in watercolour, pastels, charcoal on a variety of different surfaces, and I think everyone’s getting to tell their own story.”

Two women work on drawings in an art studio
Participants use underwater sketches to develop their artworks 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 bucket list experience at the Museum of Underwater Art.

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

“So combining the both and having this experience as a world-first was very appealing to me, and it was an awesome experience all around.

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

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

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