JUST OFF the coast of Cannes in the warm seas of the Côte d’Azur is the Mediterranean’s first underwater museum.
Submerged a few metres below the surface are six 10-tonne sculptures created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, who has worked on similar projects around the world including in Cancun, Mexico, the River Thames, the Bahamas, and an underwater park off the Caribbean island of Grenada.
The installation is a short ferry ride from Cannes, on the approach to the island of Sainte-Marguerite, best known for its fortress and the prison which once held the Man in the Iron Mask.
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Inspired by the infamous prisoner, deCaires Taylor has created two-metre tall portraits based on the faces of Cannes residents. Six were selected, and include the faces of a 78-year-old fisherman and a seven-year-old schoolgirl.
Made from ecological materials to encourage the return of underwater flora and fauna, over time the sculptures will become covered with algae, shells and corals. The area which is free to access for divers and snorkel-lovers has been protected and is reserved only for swimming.
David Lisnard, mayor of Cannes, said: “The work of Jason deCaires Taylor is strong, artistic and ecological, submerged in a precious environment, where the seabed has been restored and is now protected.”