Jason deCaires Taylor

Jason deCaires Taylor

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Jason deCaires Taylor is an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 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
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, 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
Mūša is a river in Northern Lithuania and Southern Latvia , having its confluence with river Nemunėlis , in Latvia, near city Bauska. Mūša is a tributary of the river Lielupė. Mūša is 164 kilometres long....

, situated off the coast of Cancun
Cancún is a city of international tourism development certified by the UNWTO . Located on the northeast coast of Quintana Roo in southern Mexico, more than 1,700 km from Mexico City, the Project began operations in 1974 as Integrally Planned Center, a pioneer of FONATUR Cancún is a city of...

 and the western coast of Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres
Isla Mujeres is one of the ten municipalities of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The municipality, located in the northeastern corner of the state is mostly on the mainland and has a municipal seat of the same name; 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)

Early life

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
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, South East England and as an adult attended Camberwell College of Arts
Camberwell College of Arts
Camberwell College of Arts is a constituent college of the University of the Arts London, and is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost art and design institutions. It is located in Camberwell, South London, England, with two sites situated at Peckham Road and Wilson Road...

 Institute of London where he graduated in 1998 with a B.A Honours degree in Sculpture and Ceramics.


Taylors early creations were land based and often inspired by the work of Christo, Richard Long
Richard Long (artist)
Richard Long is an English sculptor, photographer and painter, one of the best known British land artists. Long is the only artist to be shortlisted for the Turner Prize four times, and he is reputed to have refused the prize in 1984...

 and Claes Oldenberg 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
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 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
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

, Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, 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)
National Diving and Activity Centre (Chepstow)
The National Diving and Activity Centre is a large flooded quarry at Tidenham, Gloucestershire, England, near to the border with Wales at Chepstow. It was formerly Dayhouse Quarry, a source of limestone, which was flooded in 1996. The diving centre opened in 2003.It is an inland scuba diving...

, 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
Paliani is a former municipality in the Heraklion peripheral unit, Crete, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Heraklion, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 2,404 . The seat of the municipality was in Venerato...

 Stone Symposium
In ancient Greece, the symposium was a drinking party. Literary works that describe or take place at a symposium include two Socratic dialogues, Plato's Symposium and Xenophon's Symposium, as well as a number of Greek poems such as the elegies of Theognis of Megara...

 in Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, 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
Mexican Protected Natural Areas
Mexico's Protected Natural Areas are 158 designated "Natural Areas" in Mexico, representing 11% of the nation's surface area, and are protected and administrated by the National Commission of Protected Natural Areas , a federal agency...

(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
Marine (ocean)
Marine is an umbrella term. As an adjective it is usually applicable to things relating to the sea or ocean, such as marine biology, marine ecology and marine geology...

 life that will promote an increase in biomass
Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel....

 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
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 for awareness of Global Warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

 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
Hayward Gallery
The Hayward Gallery is an art gallery within the Southbank Centre, part of an area of major arts venues on the South Bank of the River Thames, in central London, England. It is sited adjacent to the other Southbank Centre buildings and also the Royal National Theatre and British Film Institute...

, 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
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 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
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 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
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

. 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
Fire coral
Fire corals are colonial marine organisms that look rather like real coral. However they are technically not corals; they are actually more closely related to jellyfish and other stinging anemones...

. 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
Contemporary is a visual arts magazine, published every month. Founded and edited by Keith Spencer in 1992, it was originally called Contemporary Art...

 and Mayan
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

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.

Major Works

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

External links