Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jason de Caires Taylor - Underwater Sculpture Gardens

I am supposed to be working in Liberia right now, but instead I am home recovering from a major tooth infection. So instead of traveling on the Byway this week, I've been cruising the internet on my couch as I heal, and I discovered a place I would really love to see one day on My Scenic Byway.

Do you know about  artist Jason de Caires Taylor and his underwater sculpture gardens in Guyana and Mexico? Amazing. I haven't seen them in person, only photographs. But I am thinking that if I get the opportunity to see these underwater sculptures, I am going to take it. They are just too beautiful and interesting to ignore. I am posting some photos here - all photos are from his website:

Taylor is an English/Guyanese artist who grew up spending a lot of time in the coral reefs of Malaysia where he developed a love of the ocean. He started his first underwater sculpture garden in Moilinere Bay in Guyana, West Indies in 2005 - 65 sculptures scattered across 800 square meters. He also has works off of Cancun Mexico, near Isla Mujeres in the fairly new Cancun Underwater Museum where he is Artistic Director.

His sculptures are beautiful and take on even more beauty and intrigue as they are sitting at the bottom of the ocean. With this art he has created artificial reefs, providing structures as a base for marine life to grow in an area where the natural reefs were damaged by storms (in the case of his first garden in Grenada).  The sculptures are made from a special cement that attracts corals to grow on them. He got the idea to create artificial reefs while working as a dive instructor and seeing all of the destruction of the reefs. He wants to both provide resources for new reefs to develop and to attract underwater adventurers to see his art away from the other natural reefs to give them some relief.

The sculptures seem alone, out of place. I can imagine what it must be like to be swimming along and come upon them - like discovering a ship wreck or a lost city in the sea. They are an eerie sight. The artist describes it: "The light is very different and is affected by the surface of the sea. It has a lost feel to it, which I really like." And then when you compare the photos from when the sculptures were first placed in the water to later when the ocean begins to reclaim them - it is amazing. His works change as the sea and its creatures claim them for their own.

I've been to Isla Mujeres and my family goes to Cancun all the time. I will be there again this December so maybe I will look into how to see his sculptures there. I am not a scuba diver although I have snorkeled in the past - quite a long time ago. But this is the kind of thing that might encourage me to get out there and do it again, or even learn scuba. If you get a chance to see this amazing art, please do it! And please share your story. I would love to know what it felt like to be under the water and come upon these sculptures of people and things that aren't supposed to be on the ocean floor, and to swim among them and see how the ocean is claiming them for its own.

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