Rising from the ocean floor with the weight of the ocean resting on her shoulders, this 17-foot-tall sculpture is the latest installation for underwater sculpture artist Jason deCaires Taylor and titled “Ocean Atlas”. The sculpture of a Bahamian girl was installed earlier this month off the western shores of New Providence in Nassau, Bahamas.
Weighing in at around 60 tons, Taylor cast the sculpture from high-density, pH-neutral marine cement to ensure the sculpture can withstand the elements for hundreds of years. Besides making a fantastic destination for human inhabitants, this sculpture is also an artificial reef to help give local marine life a place to call home.
According to the artist, a local student named Camilla served as the model for the statue girl that “gazes serenely at her surroundings, her head resting sideways on one bent knee, further propped up by her arm.” Interestingly enough, at low tide, the statue’s reflection mirrors off the surface of the water from below adding a mirror-like reflection for divers. Getting the huge statue in place was no easy feat. Taylor created the sculpture in smaller sections that were lowered and assembled in place underwater.
The statue was commissioned by the Bahamas Reef Environment Education Foundation in honor of its founder Sir Nicholas Nuttall, “Ocean Atlas” is part of an ongoing, environmentally friendly underwater sculpture garden that also includes works by local artists Willicey Tynes, Andret John, and Reefball. Its texture, designed to aid coral polyps to attach to its surface after spawning, encourages the colonization of reefs. Taylor intends for his work to draw tourists away from natural reef areas, which face environmental stresses from global warming, overfishing, and water pollution, among other threats.