Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunshine Coast Gallery Displays Unique Marine Art

Marine artist Giovanna Cattoi has about 90 minutes to capture the kaleidoscope of colour and movement on Queensland's Great Barrier Reef.

Because that's the time it takes for her oxygen tank to run out while she sketches underwater during the first step of a process that finishes with her unique paintings on display at Landsborough Galleries on the Sunshine Coast.

A seasoned scuba diver for the past 14 years Giovanna devised a technique to work underwater that involves used x-ray film clipped to a Tupperware board that allows her to make notes and sketch the creatures of the reef surrounded by a diversity of colours, shapes, patterns and textures that exist in this unique environment.

Giovanna was born in Monte Argentario near Rome and developed her artistic skills by learning from some of the country's leading artists. She moved to Adelaide in 1971 and her passion for marine art began following a holiday to Queensland.

"I had learnt to dive in Italy but arrived in Australia predominantly as a landscape painter," Giovanna said. "It only took one dive on the Great Barrier Reef and I was totally hooked with the underwater life that was before me, and from then on I started making regular visits on charter boats to reef locations to do my underwater sketches."

Because colours change as the sunlight weakens underwater a torch is used to shine on the subject to ensure a match of the true colour of the subject.

The underwater sketches are transferred to paper when Giovanna returns to the surface. She then transforms this detail into oil paintings on an acrylic base.

Anchored with weight belts underwater is not without its hazards with encounters with sea snakes, a moray eel and a Grey Nurse shark among her reef adventures.

Despite this and aged 75 she still hopes to do more diving. Her marine art has been successfully exhibited throughout Australia and hangs in many private collections. In addition, Giovanna also produces amazing sketches of Inca legends.

Landsborough Galleries is a purpose built gallery with over 300sqm of exhibition space at 27 Caloundra Road, Landsborough, and is open every day except Tuesday. Telephone (07) 5439 9943 or visit

For great deals on accommodation visit or phone 1800 700 899 to speak to a friendly local.

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