When did your interest in the relationship between art and the environment arise? And why.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when I first became interested, but I believe it has been a fascination throughout my life, even as a young boy. My parents were both English language teachers and as a family we ended up moving from one country to another. Somehow producing a sculpture or making a mark on the landscape kind of felt like a way of belonging. I have always enjoyed the way art can transcend cultural boundaries and express universal feelings. When I moved to the UK in my teens I became heavily involved in the graffiti culture which had just arrived from New York. This provided a platform towards public art which I never realised was possible. Painting trains became an exciting and liberating way to express myself. When I reached nineteen I started at Art collage and went on to study for a further four years. During this time I became interested in how living systems integrated with sculpture. Producing works which were powered by the wind and casting lines made by creatures in the sand.
How has the work of artists like Richard Long, Christo and Claus Oldenberg influenced you?
Instead of producing a landscape painting, they have both strived to actually use the landscape as their canvas. Claus Oldenburg has inadvertently become an urban architect through his artist passage, whilst Richard longs subtleties and organic forms, complement and celebrate our environment. Both artists have had ideas which seemed crazy to the general public and have climbed mountains to carry out their passion.
How and when did you come up with the idea of building sculptures underwater?
I have been diving for around 14 years and during that time I have always been intrigued by how the sea creates new meanings to objects. You are working with entirely different conditions, its a whole new perspective for us to view the world. Submerged objects are affected by different conditions both physical and emotional. Objects appear 25% larger and closer, colours are changed as light is absorbed differently by the water. The surface of the sea creates an ever changing kaleidoscope of light, whilst its turbidity acts as a filter. The lack of gravity predisposes objects to a whole new realm of possibility. As a viewer you are provided with a completely different dimension from which to observe the subject as it can be seen from above as well as below. Your role from a traditional passive observer is transformed into a process of discovery and engagement.
The ocean also provides a setting which is imbued with mystery and sense of the unknown. Observers are invited into questioning its circumstances and history. The viewer is immediately committed and involved to the environment and becomes part of the work itself. The sculptures will be an ever changing exhibition as nature colonizes the surface and the sea and tidal movement shape the texture.
Why did you choose Granada Island for your sculpture park? How does a British artist end up there?
I ended up teaching diving in Grenada and I thought I might as well seize the opportunity while I could. I have had the idea of a underwater sculpture park for over 8 eight years and finally found a opening. It had the perfect location and the support from diving community and government. It is also an island of exceptional beauty and I found it very inspiring
Currently how many sculptures are there in the park?
65 in total covering an area 75 square metres. In total all the works weigh around 20 tons.
How long did it take you to make this project?
I started in February 2006 and finished in June 2007
What are the sculptures made of, and what is their impact on the environment?
Most of the works are made from cement, which has been formulated to have a low acidic composition, which poses no threat to the environment. All these forms add a hard structure which allows coral, algae’s and marine life to colonise and becomes the basis for a new coral reef.
How was the creation process for the sculptures? How did you come up with the idea of recreating characters like the writer, Sienna, and La Diabla?
I was very aware that I needed to be very culturally sensitive when setting up the park. I did not want to be seen as a European coming over to the island with all his high brow ideas. These two pieces were designed to appeal to both the local population and tourist industry.
Where are you planning to build your next sculpture park?
I have had many inquires from all corners of the world, but as yet I am still waiting on the funding to come through. I have a studio in London where I made all the work and then ship it out to its final location. I sold my house to fund the project in Grenada, I am not in a position to do that again.
Do you know anything about Colombia? Would you be interested in doing an underwater sculpture park here?
My mother is Guyanese and I have spent quite bit of time in the region. I have been trekking around the rain forests on numerous occasions. I walked overland 300miles to Kaiteur falls in 1994. Staying with mining communities and sleeping in hammocks.
My father regularly works in Columbia for his company. From what he has told me I would love to work in such a fascinating and diverse region.
Why did you decide to study art?
My parents always encouraged me to follow a career which I really believed in. You have been a professional diver for over 14 years. What does the sea mean to you?
The sea offers an arena to be free. It allows you to really get immersed with nature. The lack of gravity really gives you an opportunity to detach your conscious state and let your imagination flow like a current. However one of its biggest draws is the sense of mystery. It is such an area of the un-known, which can terrify or excite people, for me it is the latter.
What are your thoughts on the relationship between the artist and the environment?
I believe the role of artist can form an link for people to realize the importance of their surroundings and highlight some of the beauty that envelopes our lives.
Do you think artists are interested in this topic?
I would like to think so
Where else have you shown your work?
I had a touring exhibition, which displayed in Trafalgar sq, Regents Park, Waterloo and Camberwell, London. I also did some outdoor installations in Portland and St Margaret’s, England. Grenada has been my first underwater show.
Have you received any awards?
None to date
What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time is not something I really get much of. I work part-time to as well as creating all the work. If I did get some, I really enjoy travelling, walking and playing football. And photography.
We thank Jason for his permission in the use of this article on the website, thanks and here is the link to his online presence http://www.underwatersculpture.com .