It seems that sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor’s path chose him. Born to an English father and Guyanese mother—he spent much of his childhood exploring the coral reefs of Malaysia. Now he uses art to help replace disappearing reefs with artificial ones to rejeuvenate the marine environment. But oh my goodness…you have to see for yourself just what that means.

He graduated from the London Institute of Arts in 1998 with a BA Honours in Sculpture, then went on to become a fully qualified diving instructor and underwater naturalist. From these specialties Taylor pioneered a truly unique art form and the world’s first underwater sculpture park off the coast of Grenade in the West Indies. National Geographic lists it as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World. These works are designed to be claimed by the ocean, transformed into living breathing coral reefs.

I am mesmerized by these images—a friend sent them to my email box recently with a claim that they honor the thousands of enslaved African lives lost to the sea during the Middle Passage. But when I watched this interview with Jason, he never says this was his intent. To be sure I emailed him and got this reply:

“Although it was not my intention
to have any connection to
the Middle Passage from the outset,
I am very encouraged how
it has resonated differently within
various communities and feel it is
working as an art piece by questioning
our identity, history and stimulating debate.”
~ JT
He says the circle of children, titled Vicissitudes, “proposes growth, chance, and natural transformation. Children by nature are adaptive to their surroundings. Their use within the work highlights the importance of creating a sustainable and well-managed environment.”

“There are different ways of looking at the world
and how we fit into it…everything is constantly
changing…we’re just a moment in the chain.”
~ JT

Of course, this is part of the mystic of art ~ forever changing based on what it means to the viewer, and—with Jason’s art—how the ocean assimilates each piece. I can only imagine how powerful it is to snorkel or dive and see the living exhibits.

My daughter, Miranda, recently coined a phrase that perfectly describes for me the emotion even the photographs evokes ~ “awkward and beautiful.”

All images and info used with Jason’s permission from his website.