The human being, creature of eyes, needs the image. Leonardo da Vinci

Jason deCaires Taylor: Vicissitudes

ArtWay Visual Meditation January 14, 2018

Jason deCaires Taylor: Vicissitudes

The Deep Blue’s Call for Awareness

by Reida Officer

Diving into the ocean by the coast of Cancun, Mexico you can be astounded by numerous underwater sculptures. Sculptures of ordinary people like me and you. Set in the blue waters it seems they are making statements like a cry from the ocean. And that is exactly what artist Jason deCaires Taylor wants them to do.

His art evolved from the land-art movement that started in the 1970’s. It addresses social issues, using materials that are close to the earth. Being environmentally aware, he tries to activate and raise awareness.

The heart of Taylor’s work is his love for the ocean reef and the sea. Growing up in Malaysia Taylor dived into the ocean as a child and became a professional underwater photographer. Graduating from the London Institute of Arts with an honors degree in sculpting he combined his expertise with his love of diving and started to create beautiful underwater sculptures.

Vicissitudes is one of the first sculptures I stumbled upon. It shows a circle of figures all linked through holding hands. The very meaning of the word ‘vicissitudes’ means ‘natural change or mutation visible in nature or in human affairs.’

Even though Taylor loves to give the viewers the freedom for their own interpretation he wrote the following on this piece, “Vicissitudes proposes growth, chance, and natural transformation. It shows how time and environment impact and shape the physical body. Children by nature are adaptive to their surroundings. Their use within the work highlights the importance of creating a sustainable and well-managed environment, a space for future generations.”


Another sculpture that intrigues me is Inertia, a sculpture that seems to be a critical note to our modern-day consumerism. The definition of inertia is ‘the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion’. And that is exactly what we see: a half-dressed man sitting on a filthy couch staring at his television screen with a hamburger on his lap. He seems to have been sitting there for years, lost, even more so as he sits there all by himself in an endless ocean as if nobody even notices him.

I gazed upon this sculpture for a long time and found myself getting into this existential mood where I wondered why we are on this planet in the first place. And that is exactly where Taylor wants us to be. Are we actively projecting a lifestyle that shows a deep love for our planet? And if not, why not? Do we realize the significant impact we have on our planet’s ecosystem and what the effect will be for future generations? If we do, where do we even start making some changes?

Genesis 1:28 says, “Fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God calls us to have dominion over this earth. God himself invites us to play an active role in nurturing our planet. He gives us a great responsibility being co-heirs with Christ. What legacy are we leaving behind?


Vicissitudes with corals

Taylor for one wants to leave a legacy behind. Using a special salt-resistant cement his sculptures will be able to last for over 300 years. This means that they will be able to be enjoyed by future generations. More than that, he also wants his sculptures to be new habitat for coral and a place of refuge for fish and other animals. The results thus far are astonishing, as the reef is welcoming these sculptures with open arms.


Jason deCaires Taylor: Vicissitudes, 2007, life-size figures, salt resistant cement.
Jason deCaires Taylor: Inertia, 2007, life-size figure, salt resistant cement.

Jason deCaires Taylor is a sculptor, environmentalist and professional underwater photographer. Born in 1974 to an English father and Guyanese mother, Taylor graduated from the London Institute of Arts in 1998 with a BA Honours in Sculpture. His permanent site-specific works span several continents and predominately explore submerged and tidal marine environments. His multi-disciplinarily sculptural works explore modern themes of conservation and environmental activism; Over the past 10 years Taylor he has created several large-scale underwater “Museums” and “Sculpture Parks”, with collections of over 850 life-size public works.

Reida Officer is an art teacher at the Cibap Vakschool voor Verbeelding in Zwolle, the Netherlands. She graduated from the ArtEZ Art Academy in 2010 with a BA Fine Art and Design in Education.



1. ARTWAY – In our new blog Jonathan Evens writes, ‘Why would Central Saint Martins, a world-famous arts and design college and part of University of the Arts London, choose to show work by its graduates in a church?’ Read more

* For the Third Sunday after Epiphany we posted a discussion of The Calling of Andrew by Dick Tulp. Click here

* In the Poetry & Art section we combined Wendell Berry’s poem ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ with a painting by Finnish artist Annukka Laine. Click here

2. ENGLAND – London Lumiere 2018 launches on the evening of Thursday 18 January and runs over four nights through to Sunday 21 January. Lumiere first came to central London in January 2016 and wowed visitors with light installations placed across the city centre. This year the show is even bigger with installations on the Southbank and at Waterloo, Westminster, Mayfair, The West End and Kings Cross. Visitor numbers are expected to reach over 2m. The works are illuminated from 17.30 – 22.30 each night. More about light works in churches:

3. TO READ – The current issue of Princeton Theological Review is available for free download. The topic is ‘How does artistic expression give voice to piety, critique, worship, or spiritual struggle? How has art influenced and been influenced by biblical interpretations, theological movements, historical context, or cultural conditions? Why is art such a powerful medium for Christian expression? Subtitled “A Festschrift for Gordon Graham,” it includes reflections by three leading thinkers on Professor Graham’s latest book, Philosophy, Art, and Religion: Understanding Faith and Creativity, as well as three essays: “Visual Images and Reformed Anxieties: Some Scottish Reflections” by David Ferguson; “The Scandal of the Evangelical Eye” by Matthew J. Milliner; and “God, One and Three—Artistic Struggles with the Trinity” by Gesa E. Thiessen.

For more exhibitions, lectures, conferences etc. inside and outside your country, click here

ArtWay is a website with resources for congregations and individuals concerned about linking art and faith.