Ocean Atlas, largest single sculpture ever to be deployed underwater, sits on the ocean floor, off the western coastline of New Providence in Nassau, Bahamas.
The artwork which depicts a local Bahamian girl carrying the weight of the ocean above her was inspired by the Greek Gods, more specifically, by the Ancient Greek myth of Atlas, the Titan who held up the heavens.
In Greek mythology, Atlas (The Bearer of Heavens) was the Titan God personified the quality of endurance (atlaô).
Atlas was a leader of the Titans in their war against Zeus and after their defeat he was condemned to carry the sky upon his shoulders.
Ocean Atlas is the largest single sculpture ever to be deployed underwater. It reaches a towering five metres tall from the sea floor to the surface and weighs over sixty tonnes.
Due to its sheer scale, the sculpture had to be assembled underwater in sections using an ambitious new technique developed and engineered by her creator, Jason deCaires Taylor.
At low tide the work reflects a mirror image on the underside of the sea’s surface.
Ocean Atlas is a dramatic increase in scale from Taylor’s previous works and its sheer size 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 of the colossal underwater installation to aid marine navigation.
Constructed in 2014 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.
Empower the youth so they can help rectify the endless mistakes we have made.
Jason deCaires Taylor
With our oceans and coral reefs currently facing collapse from numerous threats including overfishing, habitat loss, ocean acidification, global warming and water pollution, to Jason deClaires Taylor, the piece symbolises the burden that 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.
The underwater garden includes other sculptural works by local artists Willicey Tynes and Andret John and an artificial reef trail designed by Reefball.