PORTAL TO THE UNDERWATER WORLD
Artist Jason deCaires Taylor’s most recent project is the first of its kind, illustrating how art can be used in ocean conservation
Situated in the centre of the largest developed coral lagoon in the Maldives, a semi-submerged tidal gallery space has become a protective space for Nature to colonise and seek refuge. The Sculpture Coralarium, conceptualised by artist Jason deCaires Taylor, is the world’s first semi-submerged art gallery, requiring visitors to swim or snorkel to enjoy it.
The cube-shaped building has its front façade submerged up to a median tide of three metres.
The design of the walls is based on natural coral structures, with its porous design allowing the tides, current and marine life to pass through it. Inside the structure, 14 sculptures can be found; some completely submerged, others high above the waterline, with the majority hovering in midwater, interacting with both the marine and the terrestrial world.
The sculptures themselves are hybrid forms – parthuman, part-plant, part-coral. The human figures are intertwined with natural elements, some with corals growing out of them, others with roots entangled around their limbs. The natural elements are inspired by endemic species of the island and its surrounding reefs: banyan trees, screw pines, strangler ivy, mushroom, and staghorn corals.
It’s almost like an inverse zoo… the tourists are in the cage and the marine life come and go as they look at us. It’s almost like a reversal in how we interact with wildlife
Jason deCaires Taylor
LEFT The high grade, polished, marine stainless steel of the building mirrors the surrounding blues of the coral atoll and the sky above