Lanzarote’s underwater sculpture park

Underwater sculpture - Jason deCairesUnderwater sculpture - Jason deCaires

Underwater sculpture - Jason deCaires

Sometimes, people have great ideas that are almost too crazy to be true.  For example, creating an underwater sculpture garden.  It seemed too strange to be true until Jason de Caires Taylor, an ‘underwater sculptor’, managed to pull it off.  This 40-year-old English artist made his name with underwater projects in the Carribean, first of all on the island of Grenada and then in the Mexican waters of Cancun and Isla Mujeres.

And at last, Taylor’s work is coming to Spanish waters.  His first project in Spain, on the island of Lanzarote (Canary Isles), is due to launch next year (2015), with sculptures at a depth of 14m and 150m from the coast of this sunshine island, and accessible only to divers (and fish).  Gusto Guides caught up with Jason to talk art, tapas and terracotta warriors.

GG: Why Lanzarote?

JdCT: I was invited 2 years ago; they [the authorities] wanted to bring more cultural tourism to the island as they already had a strong tradition in this sense. They want to identify the island with this sort of visitor, and distance it from mainstream masses.

GG: We note references in your work to the Xian warriors and Juan Muñoz – was this intentional?

JdCT: Of course I know and like the Terracota Warriors. In the case of Juan Muñoz, it´s curious that you actually mention this because I have a couple of his sculptures on my terrace. But this work is going to be more about architecture and elements than about people: there will be a garden, a fountain and a fence. I use the fence as an irony as this you can not put up walls to the sea. It will be a combination of architecture and underwater atmosphere: all elements will be individual, with no replicas as I used in the Mexican installation

Lanzarote schematic copy

Sketch for the new installation

GG: One thing we love about your work is how it evolves as the underwater flora and fauna move in. Do you have any idea how it will look like in 10 years?

JdGT: I honestly do not know. Water is colder here than in the Caribbean, the color is different… I do think that the evolution of the sculptures will be slower and less dramatic. I also wonder how the evolution of the sculptures will be in terms of its interaction with sea worms and sea urchins. In Mexico some visitors complained a bit because algae darkened them too much.

GG: Are they anchored to the seabed?

JdGT: Yes, they are anchored with an special technique under the sand so they do not move with strong weather.  We are a team of 5 persons, a mix of Spanish people and foreigners. Conditions are better to work here as the heat is not so severe.

GG: When do you expect it to be open?

JdGT: Next summer it will be partially open. At the end of 2016 I expect it to be totally finished.

GG: Do you have a favourite place in Spain?  Any favourite Spanish dishes?

JdGT: I know Spain because I lived in Madrid when I was younger for a couple of years. But I have to say that my favorite place is Barcelona, for the perfect combination between the sea, the city and the mountains. And in terms of cooking I stick to paella.

Underwater sculpture - Jason deCaires

Jason deCaires

All photos by Jason deCaires / Underwatersculpture

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