World’s first semi-submerged gallery, Coralarium, opens in Maldives

British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor has created a semi-submerged art gallery in the Maldives, filled with nearly 30 sculptures that will act as a habitat for coral and other marine species.

The installation, Coralarium, was constructed for the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi hotel.

The frame, made from pH-neutral marine steel, is punctuated with cutouts mimicking the organic forms found in the water, making it a solid yet transparent structure where marine life is able to freely explore the environment.

The sculptures are scattered across three levels to demonstrate the interconnectedness of the planet’s elements. At the top, black silhouetted figures sit on the roof, reaching for the sky.

Some figures stand inside the gallery and are alternately submerged and revealed according to the tides.

The last level is a submerged layer living underwater, in constant contact with marine life. And while marine life begins to place its imprint on the sculptures, the entire structure also evolves according to the light.

Jason DeCaires Taylor specifically chose stainless steel for its ability to reflect the surroundings. This allows Colararium to blend into the waters and reflect back the mood and feeling of each day.

The sculptures, which are often hybrid forms, were based on casts of real people, about half of whom are from the Maldives. Other organic elements are based on native species to the island and its reefs, including banyan trees, screw pines, and staghorn corals. And to jumpstart the reef, coral propagation was used to encourage growth near the sculptures.

Jason deCaires Taylor said: “Most of the works also feature root systems, symbolic of the dependence of humans on the natural environment, a connection to place.

“White fragments of dead calcium coral washed up by the sea form the shapes of bones, ingrained into the surfaces, aiming to show how the coral reefs are part of the Maldivian DNA.”

Visitors will be able to tour the Coralarium with an expert guide from the Fairmont Maldives.

Jason deCaires Taylor

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea

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