No one had ever created a museum under the sea before, until Jason De Caires Taylor came along. The British artist moved to the Caribbean island of Grenada many years ago to pursue his two passions: sculpture and scuba diving.
In 2011, the Mexican government were looking for a way to prevent further damage to the coral reefs around Cancun. So the Cancun National Marine Park commissioned Jason to create 400 sculptures to sit on the sea floor and become an artificial reef. He called it The Silent Evolution.
50 per cent of the world’s coral reefs have disappeared since the 1970s, as a result of overfishing and non-sustainable tourism. As Jason says in the film about his work, People Under The Sea, he doesn’t want to be a part of that decline.
The film shows the process of making these sculptures – from creating the human moulds to lowering the finished products onto the sea bed.
The statues are made from special concrete that lends itself to coral growth. Over time, algae, sponges and coral grow on the surface, fish will swim between the legs of the sculptures, creating a new reef.
The sculpture garden also attracts tourists away from the over-crowded natural reefs nearby to see these statues resting 8 metres beneath the surface of the sea.
Symbolically, The Silent Evolution shows how humans may think they’re invincible but nature will always win in the end. Jason has created dozens of underwater statue collections with different messages.
The Lost Correspondent shows a man sat at a desk with a typewriter – once an ubiquitous piece of technology, now a relic of the past.
Inertia shows an overweight man sat on the sea bed, watching TV surrounded. The message here is human’s ignorance of the world’s environmental crisis.
So not only are these statues helping the environment and creating tourist attractions in a sustainable way, they also contain messages we could all learn from. It definitely beats a museum on land any day.
We saw People Under The Sea at the Ocean Film Festival 2014. Watch a clip from the film here and find out more Jason’s underwater sculptures on his website. All photos are credited to Jason DeCaires Taylor.