Photographer Tsur “Tsuf” Pelly first visited the Sinai peninsula when he was eight years old. Sinai was at that time the national getaway vacation spot where Israelis could drive down, chill out and relax for a week, a month or a year.
For Pelly, the effect of the visit was so profound that he made underwater photography of the region and its coral reefs into a body of work, now on display at the Man and the Living World Museum in Ramat-Gan.
Describing that first visit, he states, “The area was still in the hands of Israel, and I was nourished on those magical legends that described it as a symbol of infinite happiness.”
“The pristine natural surroundings; desert, blue sea and multicolored underwater world cast their spell and connected me with a love that exists to this very day.”
“My first encounter as a child with the underwater world – equipped with a mask and snorkel – astounded me to the point where I lost all sense of time. When I finally emerged, I was blue with cold but beaming with happiness.”
Pelly became an underwater diver, diving instructor and professional underwater photographer. “You can say that the Sinai became a kind of second home.”
The exhibition, Gvanei Sham-Mayim (a play on the Hebrew words for “sky” and “water” that might best be translated as “shades of the blue yonder underwater”), features photographs from different dive sites — particularly around the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea — presenting the delicate underwater environment and the dangers to life there as a result of human intervention and technological progress.
In addition to being an award-wining photographer for various geographic magazines, Pelly is a theater director and lecturer on art at Tel Aviv University.