A new underwater museum and rewilding project by sculptor, environmentalist and photographer Jason deCaires Taylor has opened some 8-10 metres deep in the waters of Cyprus’ Ayia Napa.
The Museum of Underwater Sculptures Ayia Napa (MUSAN), located just 200 metres from Ayia Napa’s Pernera beach within the Ayia Napa Artificial Reef Marine Protected Area, contains 93 artworks which range from figurative statues to trees, some in the style of large oaks, and hybrid works.
Made from a combination of high grade marine stainless steel and a pH neutral materials including stones, rocks and shells, the underwater installation serves as an artificial reef, inviting the local marine life to inhabit them. The sculptures have a textured surface that allows corals, sponges and other microscopic organisms to attach to and grow. In turn this creates homes and food sources for other marine life.
Jason deCaires Taylor said: “The idea is to create an underwater forest, an incredible rewilding of the underwater world and to create sculptures that not only exist on the sea floor but actually traverse the water column and reach up to the surface – the idea being that it creates this mythical experience but also this complex web for marine life to inhabit.”
Jason deCaires Taylor‘s underwater museum shares a narrative around the interaction between human and nature, while many of the sculptures adopt a tree-human hybrid appearance, reminding of Greek mythological creatures.
Among the numerous trees, the artist has also placed figurines of playing children to express the need to re-connect with the natural world, to discover and explore its beauty. As they play hide-and-seek in the woods, these forest children hold cameras in their hands and point their lenses at adult sculptures, which represent the human race.
Jason deCaires Taylor added: “They [children figurines] hope for a future in which the mystery and magic of nature will return.”
MUSAN is accessible to scuba divers, freedivers, and snorkellers.
Only about 10-15 per cent of the sea bed has a solid enough substratum to allow reefs to form naturally, making artificial replacements an important part of underwater conservation.
Artificial reefs are created on barren stretches of sea beds, away from healthy ecosystems. This helps to draw visitors away from natural areas allowing them space and time to recover while building new habitats.
MUSAN is one of several underwater museums that sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor has created around the world. He gained international in 2006 with the creation of the world’s first underwater sculpture park, situated off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living