British environmental artist Jason deCaires Taylor recently completed his latest work, and it’s his most stunning to date—The Sculpture Coralarium, presented as the world’s first semi-submerged tidal gallery space. Located in the middle of the Maldives’ largest developed coral lagoon at the island resort Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi, the partially submerged art gallery is primarily experienced in the water and guests are invited to snorkel and swim their way to the installation. The museum’s human-like sculptures, built of marine-safe neutral-pH material, are designed to promote coral growth and provide additional marine habitat over time.
The Sculpture Coralarium is the Maldives’ first underwater museum and took approximately five months to install. The artwork begins with a long swimming pool that transects the beach and leads to a coral-lined pathway submerged in the sea. The 100-meter walkway is “sea-scaped” with endemic planted corals and serves as the symbolic threshold to another world. An additional five- to ten-minute swim reveals a submerged staircase, which connects to a cuboid six-meter-tall building with stainless steel walls. The walls themselves have coral-inspired laser-cut openings to allow water and marine life to pass through. The front facade is typically submerged to a median tide of three meters.
A series of Jesmonite human-like sculptures were placed on the roof of the cuboid structure, while over a dozen more sculptures can be found on plinths at various heights and submerged at differing degrees. The sculptures were made using casts of the local population and combined with organic coral and plant-inspired forms. The sculptures will promote the growth of coral reefs.
“The underwater realm of the installation includes a series of children looking up towards [the] surface of the sea. This poses questions about the threat of climate change and sea levels rising and the consequences for future generations,” reads the project statement. “Overall the installation aims to draw all the elements of life on earth together, to portray a system where all components are dependent on each other, humans and the environment in coexistence, a leveling of relationships. The Coralarium becomes a portal or interface to the wonders of the underwater world.”
Images via Fairmont Maldives