Arts & Culture

Europe's First Underwater Museum Features Eerie Human Figures

The Museo Atlántico in the Spanish Canary Islands showcases a British artist’s extraordinary eco-sculptures
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Europe’s newest – and most exciting – cultural destination lies fathoms deep in the ocean, off the coast of Lanzarote in the Spanish Canary Islands. Now open to visitors, the Museo Atlántico is a submerged museum that showcases the unique underwater sculptures of the British artist Jason deCaires Taylor.

The life-size artworks, which are crafted from pH-neutral materials that can withstand marine conditions and that encourage aquatic life to flourish, have a dreamlike, eerie quality. The stand-out creation is The Raft of Lampedusa, which depicts a boat carrying 13 shipwrecked sailors; a vignette that has unmistakable parallels with contemporary scenes of refugees in crisis. Then there’s El Rubicón, a group of 35 human figures – all modeled on local inhabitants of the island – shown heading in the same direction, towards a mysterious threshold. Building on elements of Greek mythology that used the ocean as a metaphor for the origins of human life, the extraordinary installation prompts us to reflect on our deep, primeval connections with nature, and how the two can co-exist in harmony. DeCaires Taylor also raises questions about the role of technology in our lives, with his sculptures of couples taking selfies and voyeuristic figures clutching cameras.


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Covering a 2,500-square-metre surface, the museum is accessible to divers and scuba divers. It’s the latest in a series of underwater projects that deCaires Taylor has worked on, the biggest and most ambitious being the Museo Subacuático de Arte in Cancun, Mexico. He has always been passionate about the sea, having spent much of his childhood on the Malaysian coast and having qualified as a scuba instructor in 2002. 


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A percentage of the profits made by Museo Atlántico will go towards protecting marine life in the sea surrounding Lanzarote and the Canary Islands.


This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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