Jason deCaires Taylor Artist & Photographer
Taylor’s artworks are essentially artificial reefs, formed of carefully manufactured sculptures installed at various locations around the world.
Each sculpture is created using non-toxic, pH neutral marine grade cement, free from harmful pollutants, becoming an integral part of the local ecosystem.
The cement is highly durable, with a rough texture that encourages coral larvae to attach and thrive, while nooks and dark cubbyholes formed of folds of clothing provide homes for fish and crustaceans.
The timing of installation is significant to ensure they are in place downstream before the larval coral spawning occurs, yet not so early that other sea life colonises it before the coral can take hold.
The placement of sculptures is further carefully considered to maximise positive environmental impact.
In many cases deCaires Taylor’s sculptures are placed away from existing reefs often in areas of barren sandbanks to boost diversity, but also to draw tourists away from the delicate ecosystems and fragile corals of existing reefs, where divers may do more harm than good with their well-intentioned curiosity.
All of these careful considerations go into each of deCaires Taylor sculptural installations, yet there are further benefits to his artificially created sculptural reefs, as while each work is produced in consultation with marine scientists to maximise their impact, the scientists themselves can study and monitor the development of a functioning ecosystem from its very beginning through to becoming well established.
There are also economic benefits as they can provide alternative employment for local fisherman working as museum guides to bring visitors to the underwater galleries either deep sea diving, snorkelling or in glass-bottomed boats.
Entrance fees to the sculpture parks also provide crucial funding for further marine conservation efforts and coastal patrols to enforce protective laws.
An Underwater Art Museum
Visiting deCaires Taylor’s underwater museums allows visitors the opportunity to broaden their minds and educate themselves on fields that are outside their daily lives, and experience samples of worlds beyond their own in a safe and non-destructive manner.
For marine ecologies, this is a significant benefit as they are an environment that most people will only experience briefly while holidaying, if at all.
Describing these collections of underwater sculptures as a museum highlights another conceptual layer of Taylor’s works.
Museums house collections of objects that the everyday person may not usually see in their lifetime, yet behind the scenes museums involve research into different cultures and preservation of objects from ages past or foreign lands. In this way, the underwater museums are no different, as Taylor states:
“We call it a museum for a very important reason. Museums are places of preservation, conservation and education. They’re places where we keep objects of great value to us, where we value them simply for being themselves.”
No two visits to any given sculpture will be quite the same.
The changing formations of the sea surface affect the filtered light that scatters down to the ocean floor and depth alters the visual spectrum of colour that can be seen.
Spawning and other ocean cycles also change the dynamic of these artworks, as it also affect the visibility of the waters while bringing forth new life to seed the sculptures, which may take hold and grow.
The appearance of each sculpture is in many ways ephemeral as the coral grows and spreads out and other marine life, including fish and crustaceans inhabit the artworks, moving from a clean cement sculpture untouched by marine life to a mature coral reef and functioning ecosystem.
As each artwork grows and becomes complete the original forms become obscured and a frequent visitor may mark the passage of time by these gradual changes.
deCaires Taylor installations bring environmental messages to a viewer already primed with an interest and passion in our oceans, as well as highlighting these environments to land-goers by calling attention to them through art.
The movement of artworks from the gallery to the oceans represents a new frontier for both the arts and continued health of marine ecologies.
Like the leap from gallery to the environment that occurred with EARTH WORKS, the oceans represent a new, contemporary frontier of artistic experimentation with its own challenges, particularly with artworks that endeavour to be remedial and thus need to be both non-toxic to the environment while promoting marine growth and health.
For marine ecology, the works draw the viewers’ attention to the ocean and its continued health, and also encourage the viewer to experience it directly yet non-destructively and enter the ocean ecology to view deCaires Taylor’s sculptures directly.
While these artworks can be viewed through exquisite underwater photography, a tribute to deCaires Taylor own photographic skills, it is only by immersing yourself in the ocean and becoming part of the environment that the sublime awe and presence can be experienced, and a full appreciation of the delicate, threatened marine ecosystems achieved.
Enjoy snorkeling in the Cancun Underwater Museum (MUSA) and watching over 470 underwater statues. This is one of the best tours you can do in Cancun!
OVER 470 UNDERWATER STATUES IN CANCUN, YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES
The coral reef sites in Cancun have received a huge influx of visitors over the years and this has taken it’s toll on the natural areas and ecosystems.
The Cancun underwater museum is a unique way to draw people away from the reefs and create an artificial one where coral can grow and marine life can breed.
THE MUSEUM IN CANCUN NOW CONSISTS OF 475 SUBMERGED SCULPTURES AND THERE ARE PLANS FOR MORE!
Our Snorkel in the Museum tour offers a unique snorkel excursion to visit the underwater statues located beside Manchones reef area. Manchones is located between the coast of Cancun and Isla Mujeres and is now home to 455 of the statues.
This 3 hour tour provides you with a 45 minute snorkel experience in the museum where you will also see the schools of fish, turtles, rays etc etc. After this, subject to timing and weather conditions, we will stop off at a second site which is full of marine life. El Farito is a famous snorkel area just off the coast of Isla Mujeres where you will enjoy a 20 minute visit; the perfect way to round off your MUSA experience.
The sculptures that you could see in this area include; The Cross of the Bay, Man on Fire, Dream Collector, El Bacab, Antropocene (VW Car), Silent Evolution (450 statues), Thing Blue (Beetle Car) and The Promise. We will do our utmost to make sure you see the majority (weather and visibility permitting). This ever changing environment alters the appearance of the statues constantly, the sculptures require algae to provide a base for the fragile coral as well as food for the fish. Some of the sculptures are already showing coral growth and we look forward to more in the near future.
Most of these models were locals from Puerto Morelos, a nearby fishing village to the south of Cancun.
A 5 year old boy sat for over an hour whilst he was covered with marine cement, other statues were made from a pregnant lady, a nun, a local fisherman as well as a model and a famous British TV presenter.
Today these eerie statues are covered with algae and polyps of Coral, the plan worked and Cancun is now home to the biggest artificial reef in the world.