Jason DeCaires Taylor's New Underwater Installation Opens in Ayia Napa
A new installation by underwater artist Jason deCaires Taylor has opened in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, drawing attention to the depletion of marine life in the Mediterranean Sea over the past 20 years, while hoping to attract more.
The Museum of Underwater Sculpture Ayia Napa (MUSAN) is an underwater forest consisting of more than 93 artworks, some of which are in the form of trees, others which are figurative in nature. The artworks have been designed to attract marine life on a large scale, and are expected to 'grow organically' over time.
Further installations are placed among the trees at various depths from the seafloor to the surface, laid out to resemble a path through a dense underwater forest. Some of the tree forms will float just beneath the surface so that the whole structure provides a complex environment for marine life at all levels.
The creation of MUSAN was a result of the joint effort of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, the Ayia Napa municipality and the Cypriot Ministry of Tourism. Situated over a barren stretch of sand within a marine protected area, the sculptures are made from inert pH neutral materials, which are harmless to the environment and which, it is hoped, will attract a wide variety of marine flora and fauna – as well as scuba diving tourists.
'I firmly believe that Jason’s artworks will be a haven for many sea creatures and will contribute to the development of biodiversity in the area,' said Marina Argyrou, director of the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research. 'The underwater museum will be a living visual and ecological experience, with works of art interacting with nature and evolving over time and I’m certain it will bring people closer to the marine environment and the conservation and protection of our marine ecosystem.'
The new art installation, first proposed in 2014 and constructed with a budget of €1million, was opened on 31 July by Ayia Napa’s Mayor, Christos Zannettou. 'I am very excited that this project is inaugurated during my time as mayor,' said Zannettou. 'It’s a legacy for future generations and contains many symbolisms about the alienation of humans from the environment, the relationship between different generations and climate change.
'This project marks a new beginning for our country,' added Zannettou. 'It enriches our tourist product and is now part of our national treasures. Simultaneously, it upgrades and attracts a separate group of tourists with special interests, and it offers a unique experience for all tourist groups and ages. At the same time, it supports our efforts in extending our tourist season, operating reciprocally for our country’s economy.'
MUSAN is situated within 200m of the Aiya Napa coastline and is accessible to both divers and snorkellers. Marine tourism – and diving in particular – has been named as a top priority within Cyprus' National Tourism Strategy 2030, with the opening of the new underwater artwork expected to generate financial benefits to the country, as well as improving the marine environment.
'Jason deCaires Taylor is an artist whose concern about the effects of climate change, overfishing and other human interventions has led him to various areas of the planet where through his work he tried to create ideal conditions for the development of marine life at all levels,' said Costas Kadis, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment. 'Jason's artistic interventions change the perspective through which we face environmental issues and remind us that man can coexist harmoniously with the marine environment. The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research will continue to work responsibly for the effective management of the underwater museum, which will add to the value of Cyprus in terms of tourism and culture.'