Jason deCaires Taylor, underwater figurative sculpture
Born in 1974 to an English father and Guyanese mother, Taylor grew up in Europe and Asia, where he spent much of his early childhood exploring the coral reefs of Malaysia. Educated in the South East of England, Taylor graduated from the London Institute of Arts in 1998 with a BA Honours in Sculpture and went on to become a fully qualified diving instructor and underwater naturalist. With over 20 years diving experience under his belt, Taylor is also an award winning underwater photographer, famous for his dramatic images, which capture the metamorphosing effects of the ocean on his evolving sculptures.
In 2006, Taylor founded and created the world’s first underwater sculpture park. Situated off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies it is now listed as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic and was instrumental in the creation of a National Marine Protected Area by the local Government. Following on in 2009 he co-founded MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), a monumental museum with a collection of over 500 of his sculptural works, submerged off the coast of Cancun, Mexico; described by Forbes as one of the world’s most unique travel destinations. Both these ambitious, permanent public works have a practical, functional aspect, facilitating positive interactions between people and fragile underwater habitats while at the same relieving pressure on natural resources.
Taylor’s art is like no other, a paradox of creation, constructed to be assimilated by the ocean and transformed from inert objects into living breathing coral reefs, portraying human intervention as both positive and life-encouraging. Numerous publications and documentaries have featured his extraordinary work, including the BBC, CNN, USA Today, the Guardian, Vogue, New Scientist and the Discovery Channel, yet nothing can quite do justice to the ephemeral nature of his art; for each actual visit to his sites is both unique and subject to the dynamic, fluctuating environment of the ocean.
His pioneering public art projects are not only examples of successful marine conservation, but works of art that seek to encourage environmental awareness, instigate social change and lead us to appreciate the breathtaking natural beauty of the underwater world.
During the summer of 2014 Taylor submerged “Ocean Atlas” in the Bahamas, which is currently the largest single underwater sculpture in the world measuring 5 meters high and weighing over 60 tons.
Taylor is currently based in Lanzarote part of the Canary Islands working on a major new underwater museum for the Atlantic Ocean.
Jason deCaires Taylor installs the first phase of sculptures in Museo Atlantico, the first underwater contemporary art museum in Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. Situated in clear blue waters off the coast of Lanzarote, Spain. The unique, permanent installation is constructed 14m beneath the surface, accessible to snorkelers and divers. The Museum will be open to visitors from the 25th of February 2016.
The Raft of Lampedusa
Raft of Lampedusa: a harrowing depiction of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, referencing French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault’s work: The Raft of the Medusa. Drawing parallels between the abandonment suffered by sailors in his shipwreck scene and the current refugee crisis, the work is not intended as a tribute or memorial to the many lives lost but as a stark reminder of the collective responsibiliy of our now global community.
The project drawing on the dialogue between art and nature is designed on a conservational level to create a large scale artificial reef to aggregate local fish species and increase marine biomass whilst, on the other hand, to raise awareness to current threats facing the worlds oceans. The main installation, The Rubicon features a group of 35 people walking towards a gate, a point of no return or a portal to another world.
The project funded and supported by the government of Lanzarote will also consist of an underwater botanical garden, celebrating Lanzarote’s long standing relationship with art and nature.
Read an in-depth article about the new works in The Guardian by Susan Smillie