Jason DeCaires Taylor, The Gardener, detail of the face, 2010

It’s the time of the month again, when I introduce a fantastic & talented Artist of the Month to you! Listen to Colourful Radio on Thursday, 17th May 2012 at 12.10pm, where I, in my monthly slot featured as a part of Rosemary Laryea‘s  Art and Culture Show, will introduce amazing work of Jason DeCaires Taylor. If you miss it, don’t worry, you can listen to it again here after. You might ask, why do I choose artists I do? All six previous Artists of the Month have something in their work that directly speaks to me. Sometimes it is the processes they use, another time, I love what’s going on conceptually, but always, it’s more than an aesthetic decision. Today’s seventh artist is Jason DeCaires Taylor. My reasons to choose him had been based on many aspects of his sculptural and photographic  language. One of the most important is the ecological dimension in Taylor’s fascinating under-water, under-sea sculptures!

—————————–Listen to the Artist of the Month above——————————-

He is a British eco-sculptor, photographer, founder and creator of the world’s first underwater sculpture park situated off the coast of Grenada in the West Indies, also a founder and Artistic Director of the Museo Subaquatico de Arte (MUSA) – in Cancun, Mexico.

I talked to Taylor via the internet, he was logged on in Cancun in Mexico, and I in London. For a good half an hour, we discussed some themes of his sculpting processes, I was also curious about the very beginning of producing the cement sculptures. Taylor’s told me, that at the very start, he picked up a standard bag of cement from a local builder’s store and produced hand size sculptures. After that, he took those to the shallow sea, and he’d photograph them from various angles and in different places, to see how they would react to water, and the light. Why I mention this, is to illustrate, that there is always a beginning, there is an idea. Today, Taylor needs to use large cranes, boats and heavy machinery to install his up to 4 ton heavy pieces under the sea!

In case you’re not familiar with Taylor’s work, he tends to make life size human like figures, combining sometime with day to day objects, such as a bicycle, sofa, TV and others, to create the scenes from normal lives, made from *marine-grade cement, installed in unique underwater locations. He uses life models, works with local people and children from the community, and at the same time, he manages to reach the whole world with his skilful photography of the works, that change over the time, under the water. Corals, fish, seaweed, and many other, live on, in and around his sculptures.
The positioning of the works is very well thought through and aims for the diversion of tourists away from the natural coral reefs. Instead, he tries to bring the tourist to the artificial reefs full of sea-life thriving on underwater sculptures. The natural reefs are inevitably disappearing due to many reasons, global warming, the human intervention, natural disasters, however the scientists don’t exactly know why they are lost under our eyes. His increasingly important artificial reefs are hugely popular, and those are Taylor’s way of saying, passing on the message and hope, that the young generation has to stop our old ways of thinking, and needs to help the nature, or some of it (with part of us with it) will be gone forever. Taylor’s sculptures are predicted to last hundreds of years! Who knows how our next generation will find them? How many species will grow on them?

Listener, latest project of Jason DeCaires Taylor and Marine Biologist Heather Spence of The BioMusic Research Group at the University of North Carolina and pupils from Cancun Community College, is fitted with a revolutionary NOAA-designed hydrophone, which when submerged is recording and collecting live sound data from the reef environment. Source: http://www.underwatersculpture.com

I had the honour to talk to Taylor about his latest work,  being one of the first broadcasters to hear it from the creator himself, was a true privilege. In fact, our interview was supposed to happen the previous evening, 8th May. It had been moved to 9th, due to good conditions to install his three new pieces, which had been cancelled previously 40 times! It shows you how difficult and challenging installations can get under the ‘weightless’ outdoor, underwater conditions. Wind, sea, the weight of sculptures and a human aspect of installing work play a massive role. The sculptures brougth down to the bottom of the sea on 8th May, were Listener (see the image above), Angel and Last Supper. Angel is a figurative sculpture of a woman with the implanted recycled live fan corals. Those were found poped up washed out on the shores after a storm. This is a form of recycling, I haven’t seen before, creating a kinetic sculpture, where its wings move, flow under the sea in the streams. Last Supper, as described by the artist, is a table with food, plates, half eaten fish, fruit, bringing overfishing to our attention, and focuses on urgency for the positive change, if it’s not too late…

Jason DeCaires Taylor, Silent Evolution,
Depth 8m, MUSA Collection, Cancun/Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Source: http://www.underwatersculpture.com

I’m going to share a trick I’ve heard from Taylor. When he adds the textures to his concrete sculptures, it’s his way of bringing the dimensions in his work. Imagining, what the piece can change into, under the sea, when the corals can attach and grow on the surface. Smoother it is, least likely something will attach, so, Taylor told me, he leaves the faces smooth as possible, however head, body and other are good for coral hair, sea-weed clothes and plants around the figure to grow.

I hope I caught your attention, as Jason DeCaires Taylor truly deserves to be looked at properly! You can see his works internationally. In United Kingdom see his art in Canterbury, Kent. Alluvia is a sculpture consisting of two female figures, cast in cement and recycled glass resin. Positioned within sight of the Westgate Bridge and its adjoining gardens. Inverted solitude is a lone figure suspended upside down beneath a floating platform in The National Diving and Activities Centre, Chepstow, UK. If you are in New York, a major solo exhibition of Taylor’s work will start on Jun 30 — Jul 28, 2012 in Jonathan Levine Gallery, including some of his photo-prints, sculptures preserved in resin and the latest video. To see his work as it should be you must dive down to observe them either at Grenada, Cancun and other locations. 

Thanks for reading! Listen to Silvia Krupinska’s Artist of the Month, 17th May, 12.10, come back to this site if you miss it, and have a good look around Jason DeCaires Taylor’s website http://www.underwatersculpture.com/

(*much more durable cement, ph neutral, with additives for better flow, suitable for harsh environments, developed with scientists.)

Cheers

Silvia


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