A world first took place at Wookey Hole Caves yesterday, when renowned exploration artist Philip Gray created painted artworks for the first ever time in a cave, over 19 feet underwater. He created two pieces of work he entitled Pioneers of the Dark (low res image attached)and The Source of Light.
For the challenge, Philip dove down with his paints, canvas, easel and breathing apparatus, to reach his location. His paintings illustrated the scene 84 years ago, when Penelope Powell and Graham Balcombe first plunged into the dark waters at Wookey Hole to complete the world’s first cave dive.
Footage of the dive is available on request. Please find images for your download here, which includes pictures of the dive itself and the finished pieces: https://we.tl/t-BytaQJ07ET
The paintings will go on display in the Cave Diving Museum at Wookey Hole, where they will join a new display about the world’s first cave dive in 1935. Other items in the collection include early examples of deep-sea diving equipment used to explore the caves in 1935, such as diving helmets, boots and pumps.
Philip comments: “My passion for art is equalled only by my passion for exploration and discovery, and I always push myself to the limit of what is possible to create my artwork. It made perfect sense to me to paint this iconic scene from 84 years ago, deep underwater, in the atmospheric caves at Wookey Hole where the first ever cave dive took place.”
Philip has travelled the world creating stunning one-of-a-kind paintings of places never seen before. His previous projects have included painting the “lost” Lion City in China (Shi Cheng), painting in Antarctica on the side of an iceberg and even climbing Mount Everest to paint.
Philip’s previous paintings within caverns have been within the reaches of natural light, but this time his Wookey Hole cave painting needed to be illuminated with artificial light. It was the first time anyone has achieved a painting in such conditions.