Ocean Atlas sits on the western coastline of New Providence in Nassau, Bahamas.
The artwork depicts a local Bahamian girl carrying the weight of the ocean above her in reference to the Ancient Greek myth of Atlas, the Titan who held up the heavens.
Ocean Atlas is the largest single sculpture ever to be deployed underwater. It reaches five metres up from the sea floor to the surface and weighs over sixty tonnes. Due to the sheer scale of the sculpture, it had to be assembled underwater in sections using an ambitious new technique developed and engineered by Jason deCaires Taylor.
At low tide the work reflects a mirror image on the underside of the sea’s surface. It is a dramatic increase in scale from Taylor’s previous works and ensures that even after substantial coral growth the figure will still remain highly recognisable. A solar light and flag is located on the highest point to aid marine navigation.
Constructed using sustainable pH neutral materials, Ocean Atlas creates an artificial reef for marine life to colonise and inhabit, whilst drawing tourists away from overstressed natural reef areas. It has drawn media attention from around the world which in turn has highlighted a long standing oil leak from a power station refinery a few miles up the coastline which had been polluting the marine environment for many years.
With our oceans and coral reefs currently facing collapse from numerous threats including overfishing, habitat loss, ocean acidification, global warming and water pollution, the piece symbolises the burden we are currently asking future generations to carry and the collective responsibility we must accept to prevent its collapse.
The sculpture was commissioned by B.R.E.E.F (Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation) with the aim of creating an underwater sculpture garden in honour of its founder Sir Nicholas Nuttall. It includes other sculptural works by local artists Willicey Tynes and Andret John and an artificial reef trail designed by Reefball.
Commissioned by: B.R.E.E.F (Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation)
Materials: Stainless steel, pH neutral cement, basalt and aggragates