Almost three years in the making, Museo Atlántico, off the south coast of Lanzarote, in the Bahía de Las Coloradas, officially ‘opens’ on 10 January. The project consists of 12 installations and more than 300 life-size human figures, created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, 12 to 14 metres under water. This work, called Portal, forms part of an underwater botanical garden. The mirror reflects the moving surface of the ocean and is elevated on a series of supports which contain small compartments and “living stations” designed to attract octopus, sea urchins and juvenile fish.
The collection of sculptures is designed to provoke environmental awareness and social change, with each piece creating an artificial reef that will promote marine life, and can be ‘toured’ by scuba divers, with a start and an end. It can be accessed by scuba divers (€12pp) and snorkellers (€8pp) with departures from the Marina Rubicón port located in the south of the island.
The new installations include 35 figures walking towards a gateway in a 30-metre-long, 100-tonne wall. The work, called Crossing the Rubicon, is ‘intended to be a monument to absurdity, a dysfunctional barrier in the middle of a vast fluid, three-dimensional space, which can be bypassed in any direction,’ says deCaires Taylor. The work “aims to mark 2017 as a pivotal moment, a line in the sand and reminder that our world’s oceans and climate are changing and we need to take urgent action before its too late.”
Particularly profound in the current political climate, the artist says that wall sculpting emphasizes the concept of ownership and the region has nothing to do with the natural world. The aim of raising the walls of patriotism and protectionism is to remind us that we can not isolate our oceans, air, climate or wildlife as our land and property. We forget that we are both a component of a life system that is dangerous. ”
The local fishermen were to create the figure in this work, the immortal cremation of the wood used to depict a cremation. The sculpture represents life’s departure when the firewood of concrete rods is designed as a habitat for marine life.
Creating the underwater artworks was a monumental task, involving a team of scuba divers. Local residents and visitors were also involved in its creation, by modelling for life casts.
Deregulated is a work that features a children’s playground being enjoyed by men in suits. The see-saw references an oil pump, a commentary on the arrogance of the corporate world in relation to the natural one. A swing and play dolphin are part of the work.
A sculpture is lowered into the water. Museo Atlántico is the latest underwater work by deCaires Taylor. The Museo Subácuatico, off Cancun in Mexico, consists of over 500 life-size sculptures. Other works are located in the Bahamas and Grenada in the Caribbean, the Thames at Vauxhall, London, and the river Stour in Canterbury, Kent.
Designed to create a large-scale artificial reef, the first installation work in February 2016 has seen an increase of more than 200% of the marine life, and now frequented the rare angel shark, the school’s barracuda and sardines, octopus, Marine sponges and occasional butterfly rays. It is hoped that this project will contribute to local economic development and generate revenue for diving and boat operators.
The Human Gyre is the final installation in the tour, a vast circle of over 200 life-size figurative works consisting of various models of all ages and from all walks of life.