Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor has recently erected an underwater ecomuseum near Saint-Marguerite Island, off the coast of Cannes in France.
The exhibit displays six mask-like sculptures made of PH neutral materials and features textured surfaces to encourage marine life to return to the area. The sculptures were installed between swathes of Posidonia seagrass, also known as Neptune grass, Mediterranean tapeweed, and sometimes even “lungs of the ocean.” These grasses can generate a significant amount of oxygen and to prevent these underwater meadows from being damaged by anchors and to keep divers safe, boats are not permitted in the area.
Prior to this installation, the area was littered with debris such as old engines and pipelines. To ready, the site for the museum, all of the rubbish and wreckage were cleared away. The entire project was funded by the city of Cannes and took four years to develop. Jason deCaires Taylor took his inspiration for his three-dimensional portraits from the local community. The depictions include the faces of Maurice, an 80-year-old fisherman, and Anouk, a nine-year-old student.
The faces are split into two expressions—one that reflects the power and the majesty that the ocean displays on the surface, while the other expression shows the fragility and decay of the ocean’s ecosystem that has been perpetually degraded by human activity.
This isn’t the sculptor’s first underwater installation, though it is his first in the Mediterranean Sea. He has erected ocean-friendly art in a fjord in Oslo, as well as helped repair the reefs that were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in Grenada.
He says that his “aim is to change our relationship, how we see the sea.” Many tend to think about conservation efforts in tropical places and coral reefs, but deCaires Taylor wishes to bring our attention to the beauty and biodiversity of less obvious underwater sites.
His previous work has already attracted clear tubular sea squirts and mussels that help clean the water in the area polluted by industry. Scientists can gather data from the sculptures and can analyze the development of flora and fauna that are attracted to the installations. In the Canary Islands, the local University has observed a 200 percent increase in biomass and discovered that the art protects the seabed from strong currents.
Eventually, deCaires Taylor hopes that the art itself will be completely obscured by the marine life it hosts.
Source Image: Underwater Sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor