In 2015 I was cast by eco-artist, sculptor, marine conservationist and underwater photographer Jason deCaires Taylor; it was an experience to exceed all experiences and the piece is finally live…the Raft of Lampedusa tribute (that’s me, hands crossed at the front).
The motivation behind this piece of art is so important and could not be more pertinent today, as deCaires Taylor aims to address the problem of immigration through an interpretation of The Raft of the Medusa (French: Le Radeau de la Méduse), an oil painting of 1818–1819 by the French Romantic painter and lithographer Théodore Géricaultan (read more here). Jason deCaires Taylor is a British sculptor and creator of the world’s first underwater sculpture park – the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park and underwater museum – best known for installing site-specific underwater sculptures made from pH-neutral cement which develop into artificial coral reefs. Situated off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies, the park is now listed as one of the Top 25 Wonders of the World by National Geographic. Jason attended our Red Carpet Green Dress Pre-Oscar event at Chateau Marmont (video below); by sponsoring the campaign and dedicating his time to working with kids at MUSE School CA, he generally showed what an all round good guy he was.
The audience at our event were held captive by his work, and so when he asked to do the casting a few weeks later I was humbled and excited, hesitating only for a little while when unsure about the process and also how it would feel seeing the finished sculpture. I believe the word ‘art’ is personal, for both the creator and receiver, which is why what passes as good art is subjective. I find some artists using the title to be stretching the imagination somewhat, but Jason doesn’t, in fact, his work goes beyond art which is why I agreed – by encompassing bio-restorative and culturally educational properties his work has been categorised as being at the forefront of the eco-art movement. He will certainly go down in history as one of the most important eco-artists of our time, and I am proud to have worked with him as sustainability is an important topic in the fashion industry. Whilst my site is dedicated to fashion, it was exhilarating to be part of something totally unrelated to fashion too (and in some way this has inspired me), hence me sharing the news here.
For me, art needs to tackle issues and/or hold a mirror up to us, force us to confront our choices, thoughts, feelings and decisions. Jason deCaires Taylors’ work fits the bill perfectly in that it brings the issue of sustainability to the forefront; he has gained worldwide recognition as one of the first artists to integrate contemporary art with the conservation of marine life, being awarded the Foreign Policy Global Thinker award in 2014 as a result. My casting with him was uncomfortable, but only in that I was encased so voices outside the casing were amplified and I could literally feel my heart beat, loud but steadily. There was something strangely peaceful though, and you are intensely aware of your being, without straying too far into the land of woo, you are able to follow the 7 P’s quite easily (Be present, Be at peace, Be patient, Be positive, Be praising whatever you believe in, Be passionate and perservere). When I was pulled out of the cast I lost a few eyelashes but gained a statue; I had to confront a few baseless phobias to be able to do this. Find out more about Jason’s incredible work by visiting his TED talk. Well done to the entire team, including Nick Cambden, for such an important piece of work, I am beyond grateful to have been included.