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

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Contents - By UW360

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

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