The marine world at the bottom of the ocean has always been considered a museum of wondrous treasures ripe for the viewing, no matter what part of the globe you are diving. Scuba divers are considered the lucky visitors on any particular day.
Undeniably, the Canary Islands, just off the southern coast of Morocco, have always been a scuba diver’s dream destination, offering clear and pristine views of the Mediterranean monk seal as well as the most unique basalt formation that can only be compared to a medieval city formed underwater. Now, the Canary Islands are going to be home to a new diving adventure.
An artist who uses the ocean to unleash his creativity, Jason deCaires Taylor is once again giving scuba divers a huge treat to feast their eyes and their souls upon. Not only is Jason passionate about art in its most naturalistic form, but, from the time he was a young boy, exploring the coral reefs of Malaysia was a major fascination for him as well. He is an award-winning underwater photographer and proved his abilities by creating the world’s first underwater sculpture park in 2006. It became the talk of the dive world. His sculpture museums have popped up in Mexico, the Bahamas, the West Indies and now the Canary Islands to the delight of all avid scuba divers. The Canary Islands are ecstatic to be able to welcome this latest underwater creation.
This has been a project that has been two years in the making. Since the project was sponsored by the Spanish government, the permit process took longer so that research could be completed to make sure this was not going to be harmful to the marine environment in the long-term. Jason has called his newest museum ‘Musea Atlantica’. It is comprised of over 300 sculptures of all kinds of shapes and sizes, based around a type of underwater botanical garden. “It’s a series of works that are hybrid pieces,” the artist tells those that have interviewed him. “Part human, part plant, tree, and organic structures. And they will be based around this layout of a botanical garden, and there will be this entrance, and each installation will play with this entrance. So it will sort of be a division between two worlds.”
These underwater sculptures have already begun to develop their unique personality and to undergo constant metamorphosis as nature does her part to continuously change the original museum due to such factors as as coral reef buildup.
“When you’re working in a colder water environment like the Atlantic Ocean, the changes are much more subtle, so you don’t get the mass colonization you would get in a tropical area,” Taylor tells GOOD Magazine. “With that in mind, I’ve given Musea Atlantica a helping hand by transforming the sculptures into some of the organic forms you’d find on the islands … The Canary Islands are quite unique—they’re a UNESCO world biosphere because they have this unique geography and flora and fauna, so we’re replicating some of that in the works.”
As a diver, Taylor has always been aware of how things change underwater—how marine life tends to gravitate toward submerged objects. As he explained, shipwrecks are great places to go fishing because they foster the processes of marine life. With the knowledge he has gained from being an avid diver and naturalist for so many years, that experience only serves to contribute to the enhancement of his work.
“A lot of marine [life] is seeking shelter from predators, so if you place any objects underwater they’re very quickly colonized,” Taylor says. “Obviously, there are loads of other factors involved like water quality, light, and positioning, so it doesn’t always work well. You can get large algal blooms and [then] nothing really takes to it, so we’re really pleased by some of the tropical works—how some of the more colorful parts of the marine ecosystem have actually attached to the work.”
Making sure it is conducive to the marine floor, Taylor will only use a very inert type of marine cement. Metals are not even an option due to the fact that, in time, the metal will corrode and pollute the environment.
The magnificent Musea Atlantica is in the Canary Islands to stay, so, no matter if you plan to scuba dive it tomorrow, five years from now or even ten years from now, it will continue to hold that magnetism that scuba divers will always appreciate and savor. This museum of self-expression and wonderment can be found off the coast of the Spanish island of Lanzarote. Experience the work of Jason deCaires Taylor for yourself and see how beautiful the Canary Islands really are.