Exactly 84 years to the day after the world’s first ever cave dive, extreme artist Philip Gray will paint underwater at the top Somerset attraction
A world first is taking place at Wookey Hole Caves on July 14, where renowned exploration artist Philip Gray will paint for the first ever time in a cave, over 19 feet underwater. Philip’s painting will illustrate 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.
For the challenge, Philip will need to dive down with his paints, canvas, easel and breathing apparatus, to reach his location. He’ll then stay there until the painting is complete.
The masterpiece will go on display in the Cave Diving Museum at Wookey Hole, where it 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 attempt will need to be illuminated with artificial light. It will be the first time anyone has achieved a painting in such conditions.