The Work of Jason deCaires Taylor

Founder of the world’s first underwater sculpture park,one of the 25 wonders of the world, Jason deCaires Taylor creates statues that roam the sea floor and provide a foundation for flourishing reef life.  Having spent much of his childhood exploring the reefs of Malaysia, Taylor remains devoted to his love of sea life and oceanic habitats.  He graduated from the London Institute of Arts in 1998 around the same time he qualified as a diving instructor and underwater naturalist.  Combining his passions seems inevitable and the results are miraculous.  His figurative sculptures seem petrified, unaware of their extraordinary surroundings.  Upright and conventional in their actions and pursuits they seem preoccupied and limited by the gravity and civilisation of the world above them, oblivious to the beautiful, floating technicolor that surrounds them.  Like the people of Pompeii, there is a strange sense of suspended animation about these works.  Each statue absurdly frozen in a living, breathing, transient environment while they remain fixed and foreign in an alien world.  Despite this clash of reality there is no sense of intrusion or that the work could spoil these beautiful habitats, rather that they are fated to be engulfed by the exotic plants and animals that live there.  Unlike land-based sculpture, it is almost impossible to ignore the impossibility of life in Taylor’s figures in a place where human life may only be supported by sophisticated equipment and breathing apparatus.  Despite their realism and charisma they can never breathe and remain inanimate symbols of humanity rather than functioning human beings.  Perhaps this is a poignant reminder that humanity can only exist harmoniously in such places as dead things, vehicles for other forms of life, platforms for corals.  Our impact as living, consuming creatures is often destructive under normal circumstances but as objects of art, relics of society,we have a positive effect on the fluctuating environment of the ocean.  It is perhaps representative of various interventions and protection acts and Taylors work, with its inherent ephemeral mysticism has been featured in numerous publications from BBC and CNN to Vogue.  These examples of public art are a successful marine conservation projects in themselves and focus huge attention on the importance of the protection of natural habitats and rare species while allowing us to appreciate the glorious beauty of oceanic environments.

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