Art Works or Artificial Reefs?
The creator of the underwater museums, Jason de Caires Taylor, designs his sculptures with the intention of forming artificial reefs for sea life. The statues are made with PH neutral casting cement, which means that they will not poison the water or the fish, and will not degrade quickly in sea water. Taylor places his underwater museums in areas where reefs have been destroyed by storms, creating new homes for corals, fish and other sea life.
The statues of Taylor's underwater museums serve two purposes; to attract tourists and art lovers to the area and to create a home for fish, sea weed and other reef life. Many of the sculptures have holes drilled into the cement, creating nooks and crannies for fish and crustaceans to create a home for themselves. Over time, the statues get covered with sea weed and molluscs. Taylor has recorded this "evolution" of his artworks with photographs, enjoying the fact that although he may be finished with the artwork, nature continues to add its own art works to the statues.
Above: A swimmer discovers one of Taylor's underwater sculptures in Grenada. The beauty of these art works is that the experience of discovery is different for each person. Because the statues are evolving and slowly becoming part of the reef, what one person sees today might be very different from what someone else might see next month. [source]
Above: These three photographs show, from left, an old man from Cancun, Mexico, who was the model for the underwater sculpture shown in the middle photograph. The photograph on the right shows the underwater statue after a few years, covered with seaweed, providing an excellent home for reef life. [source]
Above: Taylor's statues on land, waiting to be submerged in the sea. When posed like this, the groups of statues begin to resemble a coral reef. Taylor's underwater museum is so far one of the most unique reef conservation methods that man has attempted. [source]
A Sculptured Society Living Under the Sea
The underwater museum in Cancun, Mexico was created in 2009 when Taylor installed several life size statues near the Manchones reef. There are now over 450 submerged sculptures in the region. These underwater statues are based on regular people living in and around Cancun, Mexico. The figures are sculpted to show them doing day-to-day activities such as riding a bicycle or watching TV. The underwater statues have a surreal nature about them; they seem to be average people frozen for eternity below the sea, standing silently as they are visited by tourists and art enthusiasts.
Above: "Anthropocene" in Cancun, Mexico. This large sculpture shows a man curled up on the bonnet of a VW Beetle. The sculpture has several holes drilled into the windows that allow fish to enter the hollow interior of the statue. The reef was partially destroyed by storms, so the sculptures were created as a place for fish and other sea creatures to live. [source]
Above: "Inertia" in Punta Nizuc, Mexico. This sculptural art work shows an obese man watching TV with a plate of fast food on his lap. Like the VW Beetle sculpture, the TV set has holes drilled into it, which allow fish to enter the hollow interior of the sculpture. [source]
Above: A collection of statues in the underwater museum. Crowds of statues like this make excellent artificial reefs, attracting fish and plant life that make the art works into their homes. This picture was taken shortly after the statues were installed, before the seaweed and limpets start to add their own creative touch to the art. [source]
Above: Over time, coral begins to grow over the statues, transforming the underwater sculptures into living art works. These art works are constantly changing as the reef continues to absorb the statues, making the art a part of the reef environment. [source]
Above: Each statue gets its own natural decoration as the reef grows over it. The different types of corals, sponges and sea weeds add pattern and texture to these living art works. [source]
Taylor's underwater museums are a truly beautiful combination of art and conservation. The artificial reefs made of human statues give people an inspiring experience while offering natural reef life a safe home. Visit Taylor's website for more information on his underwater museums.