An 18-foot- tall statue weighing 60-tonnes is a wondrous creation all on its own. But Jason deCaires Taylor had bigger plans for this sculpture than its already giant size.
He titles his latest sculpture, “Ocean Atlas,” and it includes this massive girl beneath the ocean waters off the coast of Nassau in the Bahamas. On her shoulders she carries the weight of the ocean. The statue gets her name from the Greek god Atlas; he is the one with the weight of the heavens atop his shoulders. Check out the incredible underwater statue that doubles as a coral reef community in the photos below.
All of Taylor’s underwater statues are made from pH-neutral cement, which allows coral reef communities to thrive on the statue. Over time his work collects some awesome reef life. He became interested in adding statues beneath the sea after learning about the declining coral reef population.
Bored Panda snagged an interview with deCaires-Taylor in which he describes his start at underwater sculpture, “I felt my sculptural work needed more purpose and was inspired by the earthworks movement to take my work outside of the gallery space. Being a diver and having witnessed the steady decline of our reefs systems, creating artificial reefs seemed the natural step.”
In the past Taylor has used damaged corals, either by humans or storms, to add color and texture to his work. These pieces are then returned right back to the sea to serve as a coral community once again.
Taylor’s vast knowledge of coral reef helps him fashion his sculptures in order to attract certain sea creatures to certain parts of each design, adding textures and colors to just the right places as the coral reef forms and fills out.
The female statue seems to be struggling beneath the weight of the waves, although she remains poised and beautiful at the same time–just as we all must do in our everyday life, even when things feel too heavy to handle.
Long after you, me, and Taylor are gone this statue will still stand in the ocean. The material used to craft all of his underwater creations is comparable to the cement used to build Roman Bridges, which remain some of the oldest remaining architecture. His statues had to be made to withstand the test of time because coral reefs take hundreds of years to develop.
In an interview he explained his use of human-like shapes, “Some of smaller pieces I make become colonised and changed very rapidly, some times within months. It is one of the reasons I tend to use the figurative form and not abstract shapes, as no matter how much change occurs we can still see an element of ourselves. It is also why I scaled up the “Ocean Atlas” piece. Even with substantial growth the form will still be very apparent.”
In 2006, Taylor opened his first underwater museum, full of incredible statues. Since then he has created an even larger museum underwater in Cancun, Mexico. He continues adding sculptures all around the beautiful oceans of the world. He says that his current project is to create, “an underwater botanical garden in the Canary Islands. It will incorporate, over 700 figures, plants and architectural features.”
He says this will keep him busy for a few years, and he’s not too worried about running out of work after that either. In his own words, “The planet’s Oceans are so vast, I doubt I will run out of any space soon.”
Who knows, one day soon there could be a huge underwater coral reef statue museum near you–at least I can dream, right?!