World’s Largest Underwater Sculpture

BY SUPPLIED - OCTOBER 22, 2014

A world record attempt to complete the world’s largest statue built underwater was recently completed in Knysna. It took professional divers, a team of SANPark rangers and willing volunteers to lift The World’s Largest Underwater Sculpture out of the swimming pool of the Turbine Hotel on Thesen Island on the Monday 13th October 2014, as a prelude to the declaration of Knysna as an International Hope Spot.

“The Knysna record breaking attempt is a prelude to the official launch of the Knysna coastline and estuary, its diverse marine life, town and inhabitants being proclaimed an official and international HOPE SPOT on the 7th – 8th of December 2014. The sculpture will bear testimony to conservation in perpetuity of the rich biodiversity of the Knysna Estuary and will be unveiled by Hope Spot architect, Dr Sylvia Earle, the most acclaimed oceanographer in the world,” Vernon Gibbs-Hall, Hope Spot launch committee chairperson said.

The entire sculpture of the iconic Knysna Seahorse was modelled completely underwater by acclaimed artist and sculptor Charles Frank and his assistant Themba Charlie.

Verification and validation was confirmed by Vernon Gibbs-Halls (Eden District Municipality) who measured the sculpture 1,21m x 1,63m and weighing in at 312kg. Official authentication however, will still need to be carried out by an independent auditing firm.

The sculpture still requires modelling and casting in a factory, which is due to take place in November, and then end result will be a transparent glass like seahorse with flowing multicolour rainbow colours inside. The evidence based application, forms and documentation will be sent to Guinness Book World Records.

As a passionate environmentalist, artist Charles Frank was commissioned by the Eden District Municipality to undertake this massive conservation project.

Charles is always looking for ways and means to draw the public's attention to ecological issues and has recently also successfully broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the World's Largest Underwater Painting called “WaterBirth!” Whether Charl works in steel, oil paints or ink, his true and natural passion comes to the fore in clay.

He has also been commissioned by the South African Navy to erect a memorial for the South African Sailing Legend Bertie Reed that was unveiled opposite the Nelson Mandela Gateway’s entrance to Robben Island Cape Town's premium tourism hub, the V&A Waterfront.

Charles was also privately commissioned to do one of the largest sculptures on the Continent of Africa – that of an massive angel giving out a Blessing, next to the N1 National Highway in SA near Worcester.

South African Hope Spots are people-oriented conservation areas in which individuals and communities are asked to make a positive difference to their own coastal and marine environments.

Given the huge role of the splendours of South African coasts and seas in local and international tourism, as well as their enormous economic benefits, six Hope Spots will be launched in South Africa in December. People are responsible for the state of the planet at present and have the power, ability, technology and resources to halt and reverse negative trends locally.

“The networks of caring communities in Hope Spots have the potential to lead to positive impacts on global issues, including climate change, marine pollution and fishing pressures. For these reasons Hope Spot embarks upon public awareness campaigns with a view to inspiring people and involving them in positive movements such as Hope Spot development.

"Equally important is the need for the more affluent sectors of society to recognize the severity of social inequality and the requirement to address issues of poverty and the need for education and skills development among impoverished coastal communities. The value of tourism as a revenue earner and a creator of employment is critical to the success of Hope Spots.

"It follows, that a goal of all Hope Spots is to foster conservation ethics, improve tourism potential and to ensure that the environment to be visited by tourists becomes better, is marketed with more authority and is accurately represented,” Vernon Gibbs-Halls, Chairperson for Knysna Hope Spot said.

The global Hope Spot initiative was spawned by Dr Earle’s TED award. In December 2014, Dr Earle, members of her Mission Blue team and National Geographic film-makers will launch SA’s first six Hope Spots. Dr Earle is a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, holds 25 honorary doctorates, is an advisor to presidents (she has directly influenced decisions of George Bush and Barak Obama) and prime ministers, an author, a record holding diver, a globally respected scientist, a film-maker and a multi award winning personality.

South African Hope Spots are driven by international partner organisation, Mission Blue and the South African NGO, Sustainable Seas Trust, who are facilitating the roll out of the initiative in SA.

The Knysna Hope Spot campaign is a are a collaborative initiative between Eden District Municipality, SANParks, The Provincial Department of Environmental Affairs, Knysna Municipality, The Garden Route Initiative, The Knysna Basin Project, Thesen Home Owners Association, Biowise, CapeNature, Naturally Knysna and Blue Pebble.

Vernon Gibbs-Halls has extended a heartfelt thank you and gratitude to a multitude of sponsors who will each receive a Guinness Book World Record Certificate after the authentication process and sponsors of R10 000 or more receive a replica of the record breaking seahorse sculpture.

A cocktail gala event will be held on Sunday night 7th December at the Turbine Hotel where Dr Sylvia Earle will be launching the Knysna Hope Spot and the SST coffee table book - South African Coasts - A celebration of our seas and shore, a visual feast in celebration of our SA Hope Spots.

Tickets cost R150 for a finger dinner and a chance to meet Dr Earle, and are available from Vernon on 072 670 5108 or at [email protected] Persons or organisations willing to be involved are still welcome to contribute to this worthy cause.