After the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi was ordered by the Maldives’ government last August to remove “anti-Islamic” human-like sculptures within the Coralarium — the Maldives’ first and only coral regeneration project in the form of an underwater art installation — the hotel has unveiled a series of new sculptures for the semi-submerged gallery.
Conceptualised by celebrated British environmentalist and eco-artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, the abstract sculptures are inspired by the natural beauty of the coral reef and have been designed to imitate the ethereal formation of coral colonies.
Rising from 10 semi-submerged plinths within the Coralarium, the installation aims to raise awareness of the threatened ecosystem, educate guests about the underwater world and rehabilitate the reef. Rising from the sea into the sky, the tessellated sculptures act as a visual connector between the aquatic world and the land.
Perched within Maldives’ largest resort lagoon, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi plays home to an abundance of marine life, from manta rays and turtles to bottlenose dolphins and over 250 species of tropical fish. Now, guests can get even closer to nature as they explore these sculptures and the aquatic life that dwells amongst them, accompanied by a resident marine biologist, as part of the property’s specially curated evening snorkelling tours.
The Coralarium structure, and the sculptures within, act as an artificial reef, encouraging local marine life to make it a home. Up to five metres tall, each of the soaring sculptures is constructed of more than 500 ceramic “starfish” that have been specifically designed to attract a variety of fish and crustaceans – the hard shells catch and hold biomass, or “fish food”, which encourage coral larvae to attach and thrive, while nooks and dark cubbyholes in the structures provide a hiding place for a variety of fish and shellfish. Each sculpture is brought to life through its union with the life that attaches to it, transforming them from concrete to textured, living organisms.
As one of the world’s most celebrated “underwater naturalists”, Taylor’s works become an integral part of the local eco-system, created with non-toxic, marine-grade compounds that is free from harmful pollutants.
The steel Coralarium structure, first installed in 2018, has quickly become inundated with marine life and adventurous guests eager to discover the thriving underwater world. Hard corals, sponges and thousands of schooling fish now live within its walls that are perforated with a coral pattern to allow beams of light to illuminate the sculptures.
Strategically placed to lead snorkellers into various “zones” of the Coralarium, the sculptures can be explored from a sea-scaped coral pathway, that leads from the 200m-infinity pool at the heart of the island – the longest in the Maldives.
Diving adventures and snorkelling sessions with the marine biologist showcase Fairmont Maldives’ best diving spots, right at the eight-kilometre-long house reef, home to many manta ray cleaning stations. Those inspired by Taylor’s installation can even create their own marine-inspired masterpiece in the on-site art studio, or plant their own coral, which they can see flourish as they revisit in years to come.