SOMEHOW I WAS EXPECTING a book about the epic underwater sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor to come in a large format to suit the statuesque subject matter, so I was mildly surprised to receive a comparatively small 20 x 20cm book.
Not that the dimensions diminish the impact of the British sculptor’s extraordinary and ambitious creations, which large numbers of divers and snorkellers have seen in shallow Caribbean waters off Grenada and off Mexico.
There are around 100 photos here, and they do look good, especially those marrying art and marine life, like The Dream Collector, a writing man at a desk with a sleeping dog, with attendant marine life in the shape of a grunt, jellyfish and fan coral; or The Musician, with a crab crawling across the keys of a mirror-finished piano and a figure reflected in the upturned lid (this one is in the Bahamas).
The bankers with their collective heads in the sand, on the other hand, make an impact in their own right.
The large groups of figures look like lost tribes eternally wandering the seabed, especially when sunbeams are added into the mix, and the colourful coral and sponge growth on individual figures has created unnerving, ever-shifting effects.
The one-time street graffiti artist’s elemental creations are imaginative and they do evoke an emotional response which is, of course, best experienced in the flesh.
The book contains two essays dealing with the art and science, art critic Carlo McCormick covering the creative aspects and marine biologist Helen Scales the practicalities of reef-building. A series of black and white photos at the back of the book illustrate the process of putting these unusual artificial reefs together.
If you have visited any of deCaires Taylor’s ever-changing dive-sites this will make a good souvenir – if you haven’t, it’s either an art book or a stimulus to do these dives for yourself.
Steve Weinman

Chronicle Books
ISBN: 9781452118871
Hardback, 128pp, US $24.95