I must confess that I escaped one afternoon, foregoing attendance to several fascinating sessions of the Caribbean Studies Association Conference (I am pretty sure my dean is not reading this), to explore Jason deCaires Taylor’s work in Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park, a project that—along with the Cancun Underwater Museum—has fascinated us for years. [See some of our previous posts: National Geographic’s Photo of the Day, Jason deCaires Taylor: “Trying to Protect a Reef with an Otherworldly Diversion”, “The Promise”: Jason de Caires Taylor’s generative human intervention in marine ecosystems, Swim by art at Cancún’s underwater museum, and Jason deCaires Taylor Interested in Creating Underwater Sculptures in Barbados.] Although I missed some of my friends’ presentations, I must argue that this trip was an enriching educational experience that could not be overlooked.
After we featured DeCaires Taylor’s amazing underwater sculptures, I just had to take advantage of my stay in Grand Anse, Grenada, and take a trip to Molinere Bay’s marine protected waters just a few miles away from St. George’s, to see the amazing Underwater Sculpture Park with my own eyes. It was a pleasure to take the trip (yes, a relaxing catamaran sail) with a few other colleagues and snorkel through the mysterious, silent—but very much alive—sculptures. The project combines art, history, and the restoration of marine habitat, an example of the efforts of sustainable tourism, all themes about which my co-blogger Lisa (Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert) has written in her studies of ecology and art. Said to be the world’s first of its kind, Anglo-Guyanese sculptor deCaires Taylor designed it to act as an artificial reef. Like seeing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre eons ago, I was surprised to see that the sculptures were much smaller than I had imagined, but I felt the wonderment of communing with historical (and everyday) scenes, evidence of artistic creativity for a cause, the gaze of an occasional parrotfish, and the flowing pulse of marine growth—an awe-inspiring experience, to be sure.
Jason deCaires Taylor: Born in 1974 to an English father and Guyanese mother, Taylor grew up in Europe and Asia, where he spent much of his early childhood exploring the coral reefs of Malaysia. Educated in the South East of England, Taylor graduated from the London Institute of Arts in 1998 with a BA Honours in Sculpture and went on to become a fully qualified diving instructor and underwater naturalist. With over 17 years diving experience under his belt, Taylor is also an award winning underwater photographer, famous for his dramatic images, which capture the metamorphosing effects of the ocean on his evolving sculptures.
In 2006, Taylor founded and created the world’s first underwater sculpture park. Situated off the coast of Grenada in the West Indies it is now listed as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic. His latest creation is MUSA (Museo Subaquático de Arte), a monumental museum with a collection of over 450 public sculptural works, submerged off the coast of Cancun, Mexico; described by Forbes as one of the world’s most unique travel destinations. Both these ambitious, permanent public works have a practical, functional aspect, facilitating positive interactions between people and fragile underwater habitats while at the same relieving pressure on natural resources.
[Image above: Jason deCaires Taylor’s “Reclamation.”]
For more information, see http://grenadaunderwatersculpture.com/projects/
See sculptures at http://www.underwatersculpture.com/sculptures/