Friday, 15 October 2010

Coral Reef Angels

I was absolutely stunned by the beauty of these coral reef sculptures of humans. Made of solid materials like concrete, glass and resin, they become artificial reefs, attracting marine life by giving the opportunity to new corals to grow. Keeping in mind that with the present rate of decline 70% of the world's coral reefs will die by 2050, these "people" in the ocean can be seen as environmental angels.

The video gives a slightly eery feeling and is an absolute must-see. One You Tube  user even wrote: "Maybe in like a thousand years when we leave the planet, aliens will come and find only these and not know what they were or where they came from, like Stonehenge."

About Artificial Reefs
Oceans teem with microscopic organisms that are constantly drifting down towards the sea bed, attaching to and colonising on the way any hard secure surface, such as rock outcrops, and thereby creating the basis of a natural reef. Coral reefs attract an array of marine life (such as colourful fish, turtles, sea urchins, sponges, and sharks) and also provide enclosed spaces for sea creatures to breed or take refuge.

Only about 10 – 15% of the sea bed has a solid enough substratum to allow reefs to form naturally. In order to increase the number of reefs in these areas artificial reefs have recently been created from materials that are durable, secure and environmentally sensitive. These reefs appear to have been successful in that they have attracted coral growth which, in turn, can support an entire marine ecosystem.

One of the greatest benefits of artificial reefs is that they have lifted the pressure off natural reefs which, over the past few decades, have been over-fished and over-visited. By diverting attention to artificial reefs, natural reefs have now been given a greater chance to repair and to regenerate.

About the Artist
Jason deCaires Taylor grew up in Europe and Asia with his English father and Guyanese mother nurtured his passion for exploration and discovery. Much of his childhood was spent on the coral reefs of Malaysia where he developed a profound love of the sea and a fascination with the natural world. This would later lead him to spend several years working as a scuba diving instructor in various parts of the globe, developing a strong interest in conservation, underwater naturalism and photography. His bond with the sea remains a constant throughout Taylor's life though other key influences are found far from the oceans. During his teenage years, work as a graffiti artist fired his interest in the relationship between art and the environment, fostering an ambition to produce art in public spaces and directing the focus of his formal art training. He graduated in 1998 from the London Institute of Arts, with a B.A. Honours in Sculpture and Ceramics. Later, experience in Canterbury Cathedral taught him traditional stone carving techniques whilst five years working in set design and concert installations exposed him to cranes, lifting, logistics and completing projects on a grand scale.  

His international reputation was established in May 2006, when he created the world's first underwater sculpture park in Grenada, West Indies, leading to both private and public commissions. Taylor is currently founder and Artistic Director of the Museo Subacuático del Arte (MUSA) in Cancun, Mexico.

Note: The information about artificial reefs and about the artist is taken from Jason deCaires Taylor's web site. The site is worth checking out, as it features news about newly installed sculptures and updates about their development under water. I especially liked the slideshows with pictures of one and the same sculpture over the time. The gallery is also extraordinary.

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