Cannes Underwater

 © Jason de Caires Taylor / @jasondecairestaylor  

09 February 2021  |  Culture, Tourism

Cannes Underwater Museum

A remarkable underwater museum has just opened in Cannes. Its creator, artist Jason de Caires Taylor in stranger to the spectaucular - over the past 10 years 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 metres. The installation is located just off the island of Sainte-Margueritte. Sainte-Margueritte 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 harbour, 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.

The new underwater museum was four years in development. 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. 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.

The location of the sculptures was previously an area of disused marine infrastructure. Part of the project was a significant clearing of the site, including removing marine debris such as old engines and pipelines. All pieces were specifically designed with Ph neutral materials to attract marine fauna and flora. The site has now been cordoned off from boats, making it safe for snorkelers and divers.

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.


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Hugh Atkins

Co-founder of Pure France. 20 years of visiting and photographing fabulous properties, meeting fascinating people and driving every main and back road in France.

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