Sculpting Cayman

A Brac sculptor known as Foots (real name Ronald Kynes) for his size-16 feet, dreamed of re-creating Plato's lost city of Atlantis. Four decades later, he realized this dream by creating mammoth sculptures and sinking them 45 feet off the Brac's north shore. The resulting artificial reef is an astounding artistic achievement and engineering feat with more than 100 pieces covering several acres; even partial destruction by Hurricane Paloma didn't faze Foots.

An architect-contractor fascinated by ruins and mythology, Foots found his niche restoring historic buildings, including churches in Germany, Austria, and Iran. To secure permits, he submitted a video of his ideal site and a 140-page environmental impact report to the Department of the Environment, noting the goodwill and revenue it would generate in the scuba and tourism industries. "I have money, I just need your blessing," Foots wrote.

He has spent thousands of dollars ("What price making a dream come true?") and years of his life into the project, which launched officially in 2005, when 150,000 pounds of sculpture were submerged. Specially constructed barges helped position the pieces by cranes, lift bags, and drag floats. The technical marvel encompasses nearly 300,000 pounds. The scale is immense, but, as Foots says, "Hopes and dreams make the world livable . . . I'm promoting new life and marine growth through art that will last an eternity."

The story starts at the Archway of Atlantis (its two bases weigh 21,000 pounds each). The Elders' Way, lined with 5-foot temple columns, leads to the Inner Circle of Light, centering a 2,600-pound sundial. Two 50,000-pound pyramids tower 20 feet with eight swim-throughs. One ambitious project, the Colossus, a toppled 30-foot statue broken into pieces like 7-foot-long feet and a scepter, will suggest the Lost City's destruction.

Foots modeled the statues after actual people who have contributed to Cayman. He fashions exact plaster of paris molds of their faces (and sometimes hands), then casts in limestone-based cement. Copper piping and doorknobs ingeniously replicate papyrus scrolls; apothecary bottles complete the Medicine Men.

The project has continually evolved inside Foots's head since childhood, without architectural renderings: "I invent so many phases I'd never live long enough to finish . . . Atlantis will only end when I do."

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