By Becci Sharpe
There is something truly marvellous about nature’s ability to take back anything manmade. From the ancient temples of Cambodia which are overwhelmed by gigantic trees, to magnificent shipwrecks where coral reefs grow out of the decks of industrial machines, nature can grow in extraordinary ways, bringing life to forgotten spaces.
Visionary artist Jason deCaires Taylor specialises in producing underwater sculpture parks that are specifically designed to let nature run wild. His incredible human figures sit on seabeds around the world, offering something different with each year that passes by — from haunting and bare-faced concrete statues, to figures left unrecognisable by the magnitude of marine life growing in and around them.
I’ve had the incredible fortune to dive in one of Taylor’s most well known underwater museums, off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico, and it is one of the most surreal and wonderful mediums in which to experience art. Diving affords it an exclusivity, you have to slap on a tank and fins and drop lower and lower into the ocean to uncover this hidden world. It also affords you the chance to look these faces square in the eye, or just as easily see the formations from above, drift down below and delve in between. Most spectacular of all, you can watch marine life make a home amongst the figures — you must look closely, any creature could be hidden there.
On 25th February, Taylor’s first European exhibition will open off the coast of Lanzarote, 14m below the surface. As with many of his artworks, the sculptures are inspired by real local characters and even major political events of the day. This collection includes selfie-taking backpackers, wandering crowds and a raft of refugees — frozen on a never-ending journey, gazing out at the future. Years from now, covered in coral life, what will this dive site say about 2016?
Find out more at underwatersculpture.com.