I believe art is an important universal language and has the ability to create feeling, passion and change. As an artist I feel it is not just my duty to help communicate the natural world and their stories, but it is the reason for my existence. Art is powerful and I believe art will help save this planet.
Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the seas floor, yet are home to a quarter of all marine species and is the most biodiverse marine ecosystems on the planet. Corals make structures that provide food and shelter in which the entire reef community depends on. Every resident has a role to play in maintaining the health of the coral reef. From the top predators to the grazing fish, the coral reef thrives on these symbiotic relationships both in and around the corals. Due to rising sea temperature coral reefs are facing an ocean they have never seen before, one that is not just warmer but also more acidic. The corals are under threat causing them to bleach and then to fluorescent yellow, purple and blue. This may look hauntingly beautiful at this stage, but if temperatures remain high for a couple of weeks, the corals will starve and eventually die. And without living corals many of the reefs residence will also vanish with them. Leaving many untold stories of the reef. But there is hope, through education and coral restoration projects, artificial reefs are allowing a once thriving reef to flourish once more.
For ‘Reef Stories’ I am creating a life size 1.7m by 1.9m coral reef watercolour painting. A story from life to death and then from restoration to hope. Within the painting I will be illustrating important members of the coral reef community, highlighting their unique stories. I have handmade my own unique watercolour paint that is vibrant in colour in daylight and glows at night, mimicking the bioluminescent found in corals and adding an interactive element to the painting.
When I first watched Chasing Coral back in 2013; an incredible documentary where they document the devastating effects climate change is having on coral reefs. I was left with a vision in my head to create a life sized painting illustrating what our reefs are facing today. 7 years ago I didn’t have the knowledge, skill set or the resources to make this vison possible. Over the years I have trained as a dive professional, spend many hours underwater observing and photographing coral, 1000’s of hours honing in on my watercolour skills and I got to spend a month on Heron Islands research station last year where I was able to learn more about corals and to experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.
For Reef Stories I am partnering with The Ocean Agency and the Glowing Gone campaign. The Ocean Agency is all about getting creative for our oceans and inspiring action through positivity and optimism. The Glowing gone Campaign mission is to use the vibrant colours corals produce when they are under threat to help captivate and inspire people to make change. They encourage creatives to use the three colours; ‘Glowing Blue’, ‘Glowing Yellow’ and ‘Glowing Purple’ to create artwork that will help give a voice to corals. The Ocean Agency have provided me with a photo library of coral reef images, which combined with my own photo’s has allowed me enough visual resources to create the life sized coral scene I am painting. I am currently a year into the project, from having meetings with The Ocean Agency and Glowing gone team, designing the layout and structure of the painting, creating my own unique glow watercolour paints and 2 months of sketch up the final painting. Covid-19 has allowed time and space for me to get moving with this project. I am currently one month into the painting part of the piece and I estimate another 6 months to go.
Each resident of the reef has a story to tell, from the changing corals to the grazing fish to the top apex predators. They all have an important part to play in maintaining the balance in reef beautiful ecosystem. As a collective Reef Stories has the power to connect, inspire and create change.
So I best get painting.