Coralarium: The World’s First Inter Tidal Art Gallery Opens in the Maldives

Artist and environmental sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor recently finished his most outstanding work thus far, a semi-submerged tidal gallery showcasing numerous works of art intended to develop as time passes as they are colonized by se alife and weathered by the natural environment.

The Maldives—a genuine pioneer in marine entertainment—has its very own semi-submerged art gallery. Referred to as the Coralarium, the brand new art installation finds a home at the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi, a luxury resort located in the Shaviyani Atoll.

The artwork starts off with a long swimming pool which transects the beach and leads to a coral-lined pathway sunken in the sea. The 100-meter pathway is “sea-scaped” using planted corals that are native to the island and is the symbolic threshold to a different world.

Following nine months of work, the installation has come to life and will exist as an ever changing monument in the ocean. The framework, crafted from pH-neutral marine steel, is punctuated with cutouts mimicking the natural and organic shapes found in the water, allowing it to be a solid yet transparent structure. The framework itself is a 6 meter stainless steel cube with a weight of around 200 tons, with the median tide sitting around 3 meters up the facade. The cube can be entered via a sunken set of stairs which rises above the water line to a dry elevated viewing platform.

“It’s almost like an inverse zoo,” says deCaires Taylor. “In cities, we go into space and look at caged animals. Whereas this is almost like we’re the tourists, but we’re in the cage and the marine life can come and go and look at us. It’s almost a reversal of how we interact with wildlife.”

Inside the cube which was designed to dissipate oceanic forces are numerous statues of various heights that combine human, plant, and coral shapes influenced by endemic species of the island as well as its adjacent reefs. Further statues can be found sitting and standing atop the cube’s roof, high above the water line. The complete installation was created to operate across three tiers, with some sculptures sitting on top of the cube, and others sitting well below the water line.

“Over the years, I have realized that the really humbling thing about what we do is that once we submerge the sculptures – they’re not ours anymore. As soon as we sink them, they belong to the sea and nature takes over,” explains deCaires Taylor. “The Coralarium is a place of preservation, conservation, and education. Together with the resort, we hope to raise awareness for the protection of Maldivian coral reefs. I want to see a better future for the ocean, for people to see it as a delicate place, worthy of our protection.”

Visitors will be able to tour the Coralarium with an expert guide from the Fairmont Maldives, who will explain the sculptures and marine life.