British artist Jason deCaires Taylor has created a sculpture museum at the bottom of the Atlantic off the coast of Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands. Museo Atlantico is 14 metres under the surface of the water, so is accessible only to scuba divers and snorkelers.
Taylor told, he has created around 300 life-sized figures, cast from real people and grouped in several installations that draw attention to issues such as climate change, conservation and migration. The largest installation is entitled The Rubicon and it comprises a group of 40 people walking towards a gateway. The figures aren’t paying attention to where they are going − some have their eyes closed, some are taking selfies, others are engrossed in their phones. Taylor says this work is about climate change and how mankind seems to be heading blindly towards a point of no return.
DeCaires Taylor says his affecting Raft of Lampedusa is not ‘intended as a tribute or memorial to the many lives lost, but as a stark reminder of the collective responsibility of our now global community’. Submerged just off Lanzarote on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean, his Théodore Géricault-referencing dinghy — its occupants trapped in perpetuity — is a call to action, a prompt for us all to be better. The artist’s raft is one of a series of works that make up Museo Atlantico — what he calls Europe’s first underwater museum; his Museo Subacuático de Arte (Musa), 26ft underneath the Cancun’s Caribbean, until now the world’s only.
The underwater sculpture park‘s lead installation brings our situation even closer to home; The Rubicon a group of 35 regular folk, fixated by tablets, taking selfies, edging towards a point of no return. A startling indictment of our society. The (de)communication age. Its overarching concept assimilates that of Raft of Lampedusa: passivity. Where are we going with our heads buried in social media, signing online petitions for change without exerting any ourselves, swiping right without looking up and around. Conservation is key to Jason’s work — his sculptures attracting corals, increasing marine biomass and fish species, and diverting tourists from fragile natural reefs — but it’s the need to preserve ourselves that is most intriguing.
Taylor is not only a sculptor, but also a fully qualified diving instructor and underwater naturalist with over 20 years of experience. He has also won awards for underwater photography, especially of the metamorphosing effects on his own sculptures mostly inspired by Terracota Warriors.
Taylor’s first underwater sculpture park was in 2006 off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies and listed among the Top 25 Wonders of the World by the National Geographic. In 2009, he again came up with a masterpiece, a co-founded a monumental museum MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), off the coast of Cancun, Mexico, where is also currently based. His last work was in the summer of 2014 in the Bahamas, which happens to be the largest underwater sculpture park in the world, weighing over 60 tons and 5 meters high.
Coming back to what he is working so tediously in Lanzarote with a crew of 5 is simply fascinating. The underwater park sketch shows that there will be a garden, a fountain and a fence. The statues will be built to last for 300 years, with a combination of architecture; and underwater atmosphere turning the lifeless statues into living and breathing coral reefs. The Museo Atlantico, off the coast of Las Coloradas in Playa Blanca is due to finish in 2015, with a budget of 700,000 €. The sculptures will be at a depth of 14 m and 150 m from the coast and within an area of 2,500 m, accessible only to divers and snorkelers (and fish). This project hopes to attract niche visitors who love diving and Lanzarote’s cultural history.
Dive Into Europe’s First Underwater Museum: Museo Atlantico off Lanzarote by Jason deCaires Taylor:
1. It creates the British sculptor Jason Taylor, who had a hand in the discovery of similar sites in the Bahamas, Cancun, Mexico, and the Antilles.
The process of creating something like this. Here, a model made by a migrant from Senegal, who now lives in Lampedusa. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
2. The collection of the island of Lanzarote Briton spent 2 years. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
3. All the sculptures are made of high-strength cement, to persist for centuries, but it does not harm the environment. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
4. As long as the water has had time to load the first 35 of 300 sculptures. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
5. The next sculpture is immersed in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Lanzarote. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
Figure 6. cactus. It is an allusion to the flora and fauna of the island. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
7. Divers sculptures are arranged in order. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
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9. The first underwater museum in Europe will take at the bottom area of about 400 sq … It will be located on 12 to 15 meters depth, which will see the sculptures not only divers, but also for tourists on land. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
10. The authorities of the island of Lanzarote allocated for the creation of this museum of 800 thousand euros. (Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor):
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