A remarkable underwater museum has opened in Cannes. Its creator, artist Jason de Caires Taylor, has created several large-scale underwater “Museums” and "Sculpture Parks", with collections of over 850 life-size public works. He gained international notoriety in 2006 with the creation of the world’s first underwater sculpture park, situated off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies. It is now listed as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic.
His latest creation, unveiled on February 1st 2021, features a series of six monumental three-dimensional portraits, each over two meters in height and ten tons in weight, placed at a depth of between two and three meters. The installation is located just off the island of Sainte-Marguerite. Sainte-Marguerite is part of the Lérins Islands, a group of four islands just off the coast of Cannes. A 15 minute boat ride from the Cannes harbor, the cell of the mysterious 'Man with the Iron Mask' can be visited in the Fort of St Marguerite, now renamed the Musée de la Mer (Museum of the Sea). This museum also houses archaeological discoveries from shipwrecks off the coast of the island, including Roman and Saracen ceramics.
Jason de Caires Taylor explains that the six artworks are based on portraits of members of the local community, covering a range of ages and professions. for example, Maurice - an 80-year-old fisherman - is featured alongside Anouk - a 9-year-old primary school student. Before deCaires Taylor created these artworks for the city’s coastline, he first put an ad in a local newspaper. He invited locals to have their faces cast into art. He cast 40 chosen faces, then narrowed them down to six people to blow up into six-foot-tall sculptures. “They were chosen at random, really,” explains deCaires Taylor, and they feature a curator, an entrepreneur, schoolchildren, and an old fisherman. Each face is significantly upscaled and sectioned into two parts, the outer part resembling a mask. The split mask is a metaphor for the ocean. One side of the mask depicts strength and resilience, the other fragility and decay. From land, we see the surface, calm and serene, or powerful and majestic. This is the view of the mask of the sea. However below the surface is a fragile, finely-balanced ecosystem – one which has been continuously degraded and polluted over the years by human activity.
Made of pH-neutral cement, these six sculptures depict portraits of locals who live in Cannes, from children to senior citizens. Funded by the city’s mayoral office and town hall, it took four years to complete. The aim is to draw attention to the declining state of the world’s oceans, as the Mediterranean, once ripe fishing grounds, is overflowed with pollution and suffers from overfishing (not to mention overtourism).
This is just one of the many attractions in Cannes. The town is easily accessible from any of our beautiful holiday rental properties set in the nearby villages of Valbonne, Mougins, Opio, Théoule and Biot.