Jason deCaires Taylor (born 12 August 1974) is a 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, Museo Subaquactico de Arte (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 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.
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.
Grace Reef was his 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.
Visit http://www.underwatersculpture.com/pages/projects/grenada.htm to see more of Jason’s wonderful works.