Divers Can Now Explore Sculptures By Claudia Comte In Underwater Park In Port Antonio, Jamaica - Jamaicans.com
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Divers Can Now Explore Sculptures By Claudia Comte In Underwater Park In Port Antonio, Jamaica

Divers Can Now Explore Sculptures By Claudia Comte In Underwater Park In Port Antonio Jamaica

Unexpected treasures will greet adventurous snorkelers at the East Portland Fish Sanctuary as, in addition to the tropical fish and other marine attractions, a number of artistic sculptures will also be on view. Artist Claudia Comte has created a number of concrete saguaro cactus sculptures and installed them at an underwater sea park in Port Antonio off the coast of Jamaica. She spent six weeks on the project with the aid of TBA21–Academy, an interdisciplinary art and science organization headed by Francesca Thysen-Bornemisza, a collector and philanthropist. The sculptures will be on display for the enjoyment of swimmers, snorkelers, and divers at the park, but they also have a larger purpose. The sculptures are designed to protect marine life and hopefully work to revive and restore the local coral reef.

Divers Can Now Explore Sculptures By Claudia Comte In Underwater Park In Port Antonio Jamaica-3

Claudia Comte, Aurélien (Underwater Cacti), 2019, photo credit: F-Stop Movies

The sculptures feature cacti, which are a recurring theme in Comte’s work. According to the artist, the cacti represent desert terrain and heat, and for her, they symbolize a potential future for the planet’s land and sea. “The Cacti Series” forms part of the artist’s TBA21–Academy residency at Alligator Head Foundation in Portland, Jamaica. Her works are installed in a protected area of the East Portland Fish Sanctuary, an area that has experienced a 16 percent increase in species diversity since its founding in 2016.

The collaboration with artist Comte is the first time the academy has performed an aquatic art installation. The academy was skeptical about the project in the beginning, and Comte also notes that it was not in her original plan for her residency, which involved wooden sculptures on dry land.

In an interview with Jamaicans.com, Comte discussed her underwater sculpture project in further detail.

Claudia Comte

Claudia Comte

What was the inspiration for the sculptures you did for Jamaica?
Cacti are a recurring form in my work along with snakes and bunnies. They represent the arid terrain of the desert and symbolise for me a potential future version of the earth on land and sea. In this respect placing cacti on the seabed creates quite a rupture while also conjuring quite an emotional reaction. Arriving at the idea to create an underwater sculpture park grew out of multiple conversations with Markus Reymann, the director of TBA21 Academy and the team of marine-biologists at Alligator Head Foundation. Prior to the residency in Jamaica, I planned on producing sculptures made from ecologically sourced wood and specifically tropical wood endemic to Jamaica. My workshop was setup at the foundation under some trees in their grassy parking lot. It was the perfect location as it meant I was able to spend time with the biologists at the sanctuary on a regular basis. In the end, I produced a number of sculptures whose forms are reminiscent of coral shapes — slightly abstracted and reduced to simple forms. In addition to this, I was very interested in ways I might be able to engage with the community during my residency. I felt that as I would be taking this tropical wood out of the country I wanted to leave something in return. Initially, we spoke about producing a wall painting at the entrance to the foundation which would have been wonderful too. But after spending so much time at the foundation, diving in the marine protected ocean (I am an avid diver) and seeing first hand all the incredible research being done there it became evident that something very different and unexpected could germinate out of the residency. It occurred to me that I could produce an artwork that did something else in the world, something practical with a direct positive environmental effect.

Divers Can Now Explore Sculptures By Claudia Comte In Underwater Park In Port Antonio Jamaica-1

Claudia Comte, Toby (Underwater Cacti), 2019, photo credit: F-Stop Movies

What was your favorite thing about Jamaica?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single favourite thing! I was overwhelmed by the openness and joyful spirit of the Jamaicans I met. I made some great friends. The nature and vegetation is just incredible – on land and on the seafloor.

Unexpected treasures will greet adventurous snorkelers at the East Portland Fish Sanctuary as, in addition to the tropical fish and other marine attractions, a number of artistic sculptures will also be on view. Artist Claudia Comte has created a number of concrete saguaro cactus sculptures and installed them at an underwater sea park in Port Antonio off the coast of Jamaica. She was the third international artist to spend six weeks in residency at the Alligator Head Foundation organized by TBA21–Academy, an interdisciplinary art and science organization co-founded in 2011 by the Academy’s director Markus Reymann and Francesca Thysen-Bornemisza, a collector and philanthropist, with the mission to foster a deeper understanding of and relationship to the world’s ocean. The sculptures will be on display for the enjoyment of swimmers, snorkelers, and divers at the park, but they also have a larger purpose. The sculptures are designed to protect marine life and hopefully work to revive and restore the local coral reef.

The sculptures feature cacti, which are a recurring theme in Comte’s work. According to the artist, the cacti represent desert terrain and heat, and for her, they symbolize a potential future for the planet’s land and sea. “The Cacti Series” forms part of the artist’s TBA21–Academy residency at Alligator Head Foundation in Portland, Jamaica. Her works are installed in a protected area of the East Portland Fish Sanctuary, an area that has experienced a 16 percent increase in species diversity since its founding in 2016.

The collaboration with artist Comte is the first time TBA21–Academy has performed an aquatic art installation. Initially the Academy was skeptical about the added value of the project, and Comte also notes that it was not in her original plan for her residency, which involved wooden sculptures on dry land.

In an interview with Jamaicans.com, Comte discussed her underwater sculpture project in further detail.

What was the inspiration for the sculptures you did for Jamaica?

Cacti are a recurring form in my work along with snakes and bunnies. They represent the arid terrain of the desert and symbolise for me a potential future version of the earth on land and sea. In this respect placing cacti on the seabed creates quite a rupture while also conjuring quite an emotional reaction. Arriving at the idea to create an underwater sculpture park grew out of multiple conversations with Markus Reymann, the director of TBA21–Academy and the team of marine-biologists at Alligator Head Foundation. Prior to the residency in Jamaica, I planned on producing sculptures made from ecologically sourced wood and specifically tropical wood endemic to Jamaica. My workshop was setup at the foundation under some trees in their grassy parking lot. It was the perfect location as it meant I was able to spend time with the biologists at the sanctuary on a regular basis. In the end, I produced a number of sculptures whose forms are reminiscent of coral shapes — slightly abstracted and reduced to simple forms. In addition to this, I was very interested in ways I might be able to engage with the community during my residency. I felt that as I would be taking this tropical wood out of the country I wanted to leave something in return. Initially, we spoke about producing a wall painting at the entrance to the foundation which would have been wonderful too. But after spending so much time at the foundation, diving in the marine protected ocean (I am an avid diver) and seeing first hand all the incredible research being done there it became evident that something very different and unexpected could germinate out of the residency. It occurred to me that I could produce an artwork that did something else in the world, something practical with a direct positive environmental effect.

What was your favorite thing about Jamaica?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a single favourite thing! I was overwhelmed by the openness and joyful spirit of the Jamaicans I met. I made some great friends. The nature and vegetation is just incredible – on land and on the seafloor.

What did you love about this project?

I loved being able to produce the sculptures on-site at the foundation, working with people from the region, whilst creating a challenging body of work. Working on the underwater sculpture park with the scientists at Alligator Head foundation and TBA21-Academy was fascinating, we have produced an artwork that will have a direct, positive impact for the biodiversity in the region.

Photos
Claudia Comte, Toby (Underwater Cacti), 2019, photo credit: F-Stop Movies
Claudia Comte, Aurélien (Underwater Cacti), 2019, photo credit: F-Stop Movies
Claudia Comte Instagram

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