Underwater Sculptures in the Marine Kingdom


Welcome to the marine kingdom!

The underwater sculptures are part of an oceanic realm that brings forth fantasy and imagination, inviting visitors to step out of their daily life and enter an entirely different reality.

Lanzarote’s underwater Museo Atlantico is a dynamic experience, with the artwork’s ephemeral appearance changing as the coral grows and marine life spreads.

Whilst the groups of sculptures can be conceptually viewed as a museum, each individual piece contains its own social message

Read below information about each installation and its figures.

All photos by Jason deCaires Taylor.



A group of children on brass boats, called “jolateros”, making reference to a local tradition and also a metaphor of a possible future for our children, and how precarious it would be to sail on a brass boat.



Molded from a local fisherman from La Graciosa island, on the north coast of Lanzarote, the sculpture is made up of a series of concrete sticks and it is representing a traditional funeral pyre.



Reflecting on the human crisis based on Gericáult’s painting. It represents how sailors were abandoned in the shipwreck off the coast of Senegal. The sculpture aims to show the parallelism between that controversial situation and the current refugee crisis, where many people are being abandoned by society, due to a lack of humanity. Making us think of hope and loss at the same time, paying tribute to those who have lost their lives in their journey. The shape of the boat is inspired by dinghies that arrive at the island of Lanzarote.The Raft of the Medusa is an oil painting of 1818–1819 by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricault (1791–1824).



Couple taking a “selfie” makes us think of the use of the new technologies and encourages us to take an inward look at ourselves. This sculpture will be placed next to La Balsa de Lampedusa so the camera takes a tragic moment and turns it into an event in the “background” worth documenting. A harsh reality for some, becomes a show for others.



Crossing the Rubicón consists of a group of 35 figures walking towards an underwater wall and entrance, a boundary between two realities and a portal to the Atlantic Ocean. The wall, which is part industrial, part organic, stretches 30 metres long and 4 metres high and contains a single rectangular doorway at its centre. The wall is intended to be a monument to absurdity, a dysfunctional barrier in the middle of a vast fluid, three-dimensional space, which can be bypassed in any direction. It emphasises that the notions of ownership and territories are irrelevant to the natural world. In times of increasing patriotism and protectionism the wall aims to remind us that we cannot segregate our oceans, air, climate or wildlife as we do our land and possessions. We forget we are all an integral part of a living system at our peril.



A merge of nature and humanity living in harmony, and at the same time making a reference to the rich vegetation of Lanzarote. These underwater sculptures are half human, half cactus, and are an important part of the botanic garden.



The Portal depicts a hybrid animal/human sculpture looking into a large square mirror, which reflects the moving surface of the ocean. Forming part of the underwater botanical garden the concept is intended to portray water within water, an interface or looking glass into another world, the blue world. The mirror is elevated on a series of cactus forms which contain a series of small compartments and “living stations” designed to attract octopus, sea urchins and juvenile fish.



Deregulated consists of a children’s playground enjoyed by suited businessmen. A swing, a sea-saw and a play dolphin ride demonstrate the arrogance of the corporate world towards the natural world. The sea-saw references a petroleum extraction pump, a comment on the control of these fossil fuels and their unregulated use. The dolphin ride is indicative of the burden we are placing on marine species and its ultimate collapse if left unchecked.



Just like the “selfie” couple, these photographers start a debate about the use of new technologies and voyeurism.



The last exhibit in Museo Atlantico is the Human Gyre, over 200 life-size figurative works creating a vast circular formation or gyre. Consisting of various models of all ages and from all walks of life, the positioning of the figures constructs a complex reef formation for marine species to inhabit and is a poignant statement for visitors to take with them at the end of the tour. The artistic installation reminds us that we have evolved from marine life, and are all subject to the movements and will of the ocean. The piece embodies our naked vulnerability to its inherent power, and our fragility in the face of its cycles and immense force. It provides the oxygen we breathe, it regulates our climate and it provides a vital source of nutrition to millions of people.

No two visits to the underwater museum will be the same

As the coral grows and fish and crustaceans inhabit the artworks, the clean cement sculptures transform into a mature coral reef and functioning ecosystem. The original forms become obscured and a frequent visitor is the witness of the passage of time, as these gradual changes take place.

Depth, spawning, ocean cycles and the changing formations of the sea surface affect the filtered light that scatters down to the ocean floor. As consequence, they alter the visual spectrum of colour and affect the visibility of the waters while bringing forth new life to seed the underwater sculptures.

The various forms of ocean life complete the sculptures, covering their bodies with different pinks, oranges, greens and greys that shift with the changing filtered light. These changing colours and tones and the gentle play of light are qualities that all the works of deCaires Taylor share, giving them a sense of calm and peace, and an ambience of mystery.
It’s the marine life that transforms the statues from concrete into textured, living organisms.