Pablo Picasso’s 1937 masterpiece ‘Guernica’ will be recreated on the sandy sea bottom near Eagle Ray Cove resort. (image courtesy of Museo Reina Sofia)
The Blacktip Island Art Society this week announced a team of its scuba-certified members will recreate a version of Pablo Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ underwater in the sand near the small Caribbean island’s Eagle Ray Cove resort.
“We wanted to make a statement, show art is for everyone,” BIAS president Christina Mojarra said. “‘Guernica’ is one of the iconic paintings of the 20th Century, but no one we talked to had heard of it or knew who painted it. Our aim is to change that by creating a mural-sized line-drawing reproduction on the sea floor for swimmers to see.
“The painting resonates on Blacktip because it looks so much like The Last Ballyhoo bar on a Saturday night,” Mojarra said. “It’s touch and go weather-wise when we’ll be able to do it. We need a flat calm day with no surge and no current. That’s why we chose the sheltered lagoon down by Eagle Ray Cove.”
BIAS members say the project presents unexpected challenges.
“In practice sessions, the conchs destroyed our designs as fast as we could draw them,” Reg Gurnard said. “We had to round them all up and pen them well away from our work area. We also have underwater sentries to shoo away stingrays and eagle rays.
“It was a unanimous vote to declare the site a no-scuba zone for as long as the image is viable,” Gurnard said. “It wouldn’t last five minutes with divers kicking across it. The artists have all been picked for their buoyancy skills—one stray kick could ruin the piece. Folks are welcome to view it from the surface with a diving mask. Or a glass-bottom boat.”
Some on the island were critical of the project.
“I understand wanting to inspire a love of art, but this isn’t the way to do it,” Helen Maples said. “Disturbing that much sand will wreak havoc with the marine environment. And putting conchs in pens? Chasing rays? That’s flat-out harassment of marine life and needs to be fined, at the very least.”
Marine Parks officials say the project, though ill-conceived, is legal.
“It’s outside the park—barely—so we can’t do anything to stop it,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “I had a talk with all the BIAS divers about respecting marine life, but they were all so zoned in on their scratchings, I’m not sure how much good it did.”
Most island residents, however, look forward to the re-creation.
“I love to see things like this done with the wider community in mind,” Angela Fisher said. “We plan to take the little ones out snorkeling so they can watch the artists in action, maybe inspire them to do some sand drawing of their own one day.”
Eagle Ray Cove has created a special ‘Guernica’ cocktail to mark the event and will have ‘Guernica’-themed t-shirts, caps and other related items for sale.