Jason deCaires Taylor
Jason deCaires Taylor (born 12 August 1974) is an English sculptor specialising in the creation of contemporary underwater sculptures which over time develop into artificial coral reefs. Taylor integrates his skills as a conservationist, underwater photographer and scuba diving instructor to produce unique installations that encourage the habitation and growth of corals and marine life. His early work includes Vicissitudes, Grace Reef, The Lost Correspondent and The Unstill Life. All are located in the world´s first public underwater sculpture park in Molinere Bay, Grenada, West Indies, commissioned in 2006. More recently his most ambitious project to date is the creation of the world's largest underwater sculpture museum, MUSA, situated off the coast of Cancun and the western coast of Isla Mujeres. Works in the museum include Hombre en llamas (Man on Fire ), La Jardinera de la Esperanza (The Gardener of Hope), El Colecionista de los Sueños (The Dream Collector) and La Evolución Silenciosa (The Silent Evolution).
Born the only son to an English father and Guyanese mother. Taylor spent the earlier part of his life growing up in Europe and Asia. He was educated in Kent, South East England and as an adult attended Camberwell College of Arts Institute of London where he graduated in 1998 with a B.A Honours degree in Sculpture and Ceramics.
Taylor's early creations were land based and often inspired by the work of Christo, Richard Long and Claes Oldenburg who focus on the affinity between the object and its environment, reflects in his own life encounters. In an Article from Caribbean travel magazine, Taylor stated "I am interested in public art and how objects change in response to their environment". The majority of Taylor’s work takes the form of human figurative sculptures housed beneath the ocean. Since 2006 his work has featured in numerous art and environmental publications and in 2008 he was awarded membership to The Art and Science Collaborations Inc. In a recent article with Environmental Graffiti, when questioned as to why he uses human figures for his artificial reefs, he is quoted as stating "I am trying to portray how human intervention or interaction with nature can be positive and sustainable, an icon of how we can live in a symbiotic relationship with nature. Finally I believe we have to address some of the crucial problems occurring in our oceans at this moment in time and by using human forms I can connect with a wider audience". His choice of environment in which to exhibit his work is unique. Water causes the sculptures to have their appearance altered because in water three-dimensional motion is enhanced, while objects appear closer, 25% larger and light refracts at different rates with the differing depth of the water. Thus Taylor believes the viewing potential is amplified by multiplying the number of angles to view the figures therefore augmenting the overall experience of discovering of his work amongst a vast ocean. In an interview with Diver Magazine he commented that "Buoyancy and weightlessness enable a detached physical experience that’s perceptual and personal. As time passes and the works change, they reshape and redefine the underwater landscape in unpredictable ways". In the last five years, Taylor has gained worldwide acknowledgement for assimilating his art with the conservation of Marine life in developing underwater artificial coral reef installations. The aim behind these artificial living creations is to discharge tourists away from the natural coral reef that are already suffering effects from marine pollution, global warming and overfishing and therefore providing the opportunity for rehabilitation.
To encourage coral inhabitation he uses a mix of marine grade cement, sand and micro-silica to produce a pH neutral concrete which is reinforced with fibreglass rebar. Additionally some sculptures contain other materials such as ceramic tiles and glass making them from 95% of inert materials. All the sculptures are based on living people who are life casted. Over time the sculptures phenotypical qualities alter as they slowly evolve from rock to living artificial reefs. They forfeit their human-like form to the underwater environ and eventually fulfil their intended purpose of becoming a welcome addition to a deprived ecosystem. In an article in Symposium magazine Dr De Russo commented on Taylor and his underwater creations and is quoted to reference his work to "embracing a movement that recognises the merits of incorporating the inherent aptitude of the natural world into creative construction. The sculptures are a living evolutionary exhibition as nature colonizes, and the sea and tidal movement deform their appearance developing a platform which will promote the re-generation of marine life. They are a means of conveying hope and environmental awareness" In 2006 Taylor gained international recognition for creating and founding the world first underwater sculpture park in the Caribbean ocean in Moilinere Bay, Grenada. His work is situated in a section of the coastline that was badly damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. There are various installations on the seabed at a maximum depth of 12 meters and the beneficial aim behind this art has been proven to be effective from the sponges and tunicates that have already colonised the surfaces of the sculptures.
Grace Reef was first installation in the park and is made up of 16 female figures lying flat on the ocean floor. The Lost Correspondent, a solitary man seated at a desk covered with articles from the Cuban revolution sits within swimming distance of Grace Reef . His most widely acclaimed piece in the bay is Vicissitudes, a ring of 26 children holding hands and facing into the current. The cement finish of his work actively encourages coral growth echoing the experiences of children as they grow, adapting to their environments. The Unstill Life is the only non-human figurative sculpture in this bay, composed of a simple table with objects to mirror a still life composition.
Taylor himself has used different settlements for his work including land, fresh water and the Caribbean ocean. In 2008, in his home town of Canterbury, Kent in England, Alluvia was submerged in the River Stour making a local statement. Alluvia draws reference to the painting of by Sir John Everett Milaise ″Ophilia(1851–1852)″.The piece consists of two individual sculptures. One female figure made entirely of recycled glass and internally illuminated is positioned alongside her concrete carbon copy. The pose of the figures respond to the flow of the water and act as an environmental barometer in the river by highlighting water quality from the amount of algal growth. In 2008 he worked alongside the children’s television program ‘Smart Art’ to produce an educational art piece The Inverted Solitude. Situated in the National Diving and Activity Centre (Chepstow), England, a desolate figure of a man is suspended head down from a diving pontoon into a quarry that has a depth of 80 meters. When looking up at the figure from below a reflected image is presented on the surface of the water.
Also in 2008 Taylor created a land-based stone sculpture, hosted by the Municipality of Paliani Stone Symposium in Crete, Greece, August 2008 ‘The Un-still Life II’ carved from a block of travertine stone and is a terrestrial counterpart to the original underwater piece in Moilinere Bay. The centre portion was excavated and filled with soil and local flora and fauna. Again a depiction of life developing from inanimate objects as he leaves nature to slowly alter the aesthetic appearance of his work; a mirror image to the coral growth on the underwater The Unstill life in Grenada.
In 2009 Taylors most recent creations formed the foundation of MUSA Museo Subaquactico de Arte off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. The project was supported and commissioned in 2008 by CONANP, National Commission of Mexican Protected Natural Areas(Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas)and opened in November 2010.
Like the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park, his creations have the same aims to redirect visitors away from natural reefs enabling them to regenerate from hurricanes and human damage and secondly to provide new habitats for marine life that will promote an increase in biomass of local ecosystems. By encompassing bio-restorative and culturally educational properties Taylors work has been categorized as part of the eco-art movement. Recently his worked featured in the campaign by Greenpeace for awareness of Global Warming ahead of the United Nations Climate Conference in Cancun. In an article in Diver Magazine Taylor is quoted to state on the intention of his work "I believe they promote hope and recovery, and underscore our need to understand and protect the natural world". Coral Reefs are reducing and now only encompass less than 1% of the sea bed. They are a main source of habitation and food for aquatic organisms as well as being an important economic income and food source for humans. In an interview with Mutualart.com Taylor commented "Our planet is predominately water, and we don't have a vast understanding of what's actually surrounding us. It's a huge expanse, and a very small percentage of it... has solid structure that allows reefs to grow." In 2008 he was a panel member at The Symposium for ‘The Art and Craft of Saving the World’ at the Hayward Gallery, London. Working alongside marine biologists using construction design similar to those made by Reef Ball,a US artificial reef company, Taylor and his team have developed a method of making artificial reefs incorporating his art. They are designed and constructed using resilient, stable and environmentally responsive materials. He uses a coral promoting neutral pH cement and propagates damaged coral fragments found in the ocean into holes drilled in his figures. The structures also incorporate habitat spaces for certain aquatic species such as Lobsters and Blenies. They have been positioned in a precise location on the sea bed to discharge tourists from natural reefs, to avoid contact from strong currents and tidal patterns and installed at the correct time for coral spawning to maximize their potential influence to the oceanic ecosystem. The Museum in Mexico is now home to over 400 of Taylor figures and is referenced to be one of the largest and most ambitious projects underwater in the world, The first three sculptures were deployed into the main galleries of the museum in Punta Nizuc and Manchones Reef and the attraction has been open since November 2010 to the public. Some individual figures within the collection have been implanted with live coral cuttings rescued from areas of damaged reef, two examples are Hombre en llamas/Man on Fire and La Jardinera de la Esperanza/The Gardener of Hope. Man on firewas cast from a local fisherman. He stands face up into the current with holes covering his head and torso, each one sprouting bright yellow fire coral. The other The Gardener of Hope is a girl lying on a patio nurturing a variety of potted corals. Other works include El colecionista de los sueños/The Dream Collector, a man and his dog collating messages found inside bottles that have been brought together by the oceans currents.
La Evolución Silenciosa is the largest underwater collection of art. It was installed in November 2010 and consists of 403 life-size cement people standing side by side on a barren patch of sand. Taylors designs encompass both contemporary and Mayan historical narratives forming the building blocks which develop into a complex artificial reef for aquatic life to inhabit. While the appearance of the collection underwater is of a crowd of people, from a distance it take the shape of an eye. The collection occupies over 420 square meters of barren ocean floor and the location is hoped to redirect visitors away from nearby natural reefs providing them with the opportunity to regenerate. In an interview with USA today, Taylor comments on the progression of his work alongside nature, "The coral applies the paint. The fish supply the atmosphere. The water provides the mood. People ask me when it's going to be finished. This is just the beginning." The Museum has recently been voted by Forbes corporation as one of the world’s most unique places to visit.
Grace Reef, Moilinere Bay Sculpture Park, Grenada 2006
- Vicissitudes, Moilinere Bay Sculpture Park, Grenada 2006
- The Lost Correspondent, Moilinere Bay Sculpture Park, Grenada 2006
- The unstill Life, Moilinere Bay Sculpture Park, Grenada 2006.
- Alluvia, The Stour River, Canterbury, Kent April 2008. At a depth of 3–6 feet over the Westgate Bridge. 2 female figures, constructed of cement and recycled glass which is internally illuminated and fixed to river bed.
- Inverted Solitude The National Diving and Activities Centre, Chepstow, commission in April 2008 for Smart Art Television
- The Un-still Life II a land-based commission, hosted by the Municipality of Paliani Stone Symposium in Crete, Greece, August 2008.
- Hombre en llamas (Man on Fire), MUSA, Cancun, November 2009
- La Jardinera de la Esperanza (The Gardener of Hope), MUSA, Cancun, November 2009
- El colecionista de los sueños (The Dream Collector), MUSA, Cancun, November 2009
- La Evolución Silenciosa (The Silent Evolution), MUSA, Cancun, November, 2010
- Article in The Telegraph″The Telegraph″, 11 October 2011.
- "Underwater Wonderland-The-Deep-Sea-Art" ″Mutual Art″, 3 November 2010.
- ″Wide Angle Natural Light no Strobe, Silver Medal″ 2007.
- Nunes, Neil,Sculpture Park″ ″BBC Caribbean Radio Interview″, 13 July 2007.
- ″Circle Of Life″ ″Diver Magazine″, January 2008.
- ″Underwater Wonderland-The-Deep-Sea-Art″ ″Mutual Art″, 3 November 2010.
- ″First Look: Jason deCairest taylor´s Latest Under Water Installation,‘The Silent Evolution’″ 27 January 2010.
- Voigts, Dr Jessie, ″Jason deCaires Taylor & Museo Subauatico de Arte(MUSA)″ ″Wandering Educators″, 19 June 2010.
- Greaves-Gabbadon, Sarah,″Underwater Sculpures in Grenada″ ″Caribbean Travel + Life″, November 2007.
- ″Underwater Wonderland-The-Deep-Sea-Art″ ″Mutual Art″, 3 November 2010
- ″Members News 2008″ ″Art & Science Collaborations Inc.″ November 2008.
- Article in Environmental Graffiti ″Environmental Graffiti″, August 2010.
- Krestovinikoff, Miranda,Article in The Telegraph″The Telegraph″, 1 December 2008.
- Faerber, Fritz,"Bodies Fill Underwater Sculpture Park"″The National Geographic″, 5 January 2011.
- Kradel, Kimberly Article in Yucutan Artist-at-large, 1 July 2010.
- Article in Scuba Diving, 2 December 2010.
- Vickers, Dave ‘Wet behind the Ears’, Modern Design, Architecture and Art, p.95, London, June 2008.
- De Russo, David. "Natures Cultivates Creativity in an Underwater World", Symposium Magazine,p.44, February 2008.
- Hepp, Joy ″Hold your breath for Cancun´s latest attraction″ ″Frommers″, 18 March 2010.
- Espinosa, David. "Grenada Sculptures Turn 5",New and Hot Magazine,p.30, February 2011.
- ″Underwater Sculpture″ ″Free Art London List″, 10 February 2010.
- ″Inverted Thought″ ″The national diving & activity centre″, August 2008.
- ″Jason de Caires Taylor: The Underwater Sculptor″ ″The Recycling Rag″, Summer 2009.
- Vickers, Dave "Wet behind the Ears", Modern Design, Architecture and Art,p.95, London,June 2008.
- De Russo, David. "Natures Cultivates Creativity in an Underwater World", Symposium Magazine p.40, February 2008.
- Shah, Dhruti ″Mexico´s ‘Giant Underwater Museum’″ ″BBC News″, 19 November 2009.
- ‘Seminar‘, 13 June 2008.
- Beautiful″″TwoFour Flinching Culture Hustler″, 26 October 2010.
- ″Gigantic Underwater Sculpture Park Opened in Mexico(MX)″ ″Sculpture Network″, January 2011.
- Kradel, Kimberly Article in Yucutan Artist-at-large 1 July 2010.
- Voigts, Dr Jessie ″Jason deCaires Taylor-New Underwater sculptures in Mexico″ ″Wandering Educators″, 12 August 2009.
- Gordon, Sarah,″Diving Deep:Mexico set to open the World´s Largest Underwater Museum in Cancun″″Mail Online″, 20 October 2009.
- ″World´s Most Unique Travel Destinations″″Forbes″, 15 December 2010.
- ″Underwater Installations of 400 Life Size Sculptures″ ″Planetgreen.Discovery″, February 2010.