Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi resort has relaunched its famed underwater art installation by celebrated British environmentalist and eco-artist Jason deCaires Taylor, with a series of new sculptures.
The Coralarium, the Maldives’ first and only coral regeneration project in the form of an underwater art installation, was first unveiled in July 2018. However, it was closed off shortly after the sculptures were pulled to the surface for depicting human forms.
Conceptualised by Taylor, the new 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 ten, 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 in the largest resort lagoon in the Maldives, 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 verdant aquatic life that dwells amongst them, accompanied by a resident marine biologist, or 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 one 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, whilst 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 ecosystem, created with non-toxic, marine-grade compounds, 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 snorkelers into various ‘zones’ of the Coralarium, the sculptures can be explored from a sea-scaped coral pathway, that leads from the 200 metre infinity pool — the longest in the Maldives — at the heart of the island. Diving adventures and snorkelling sessions with the marine biologist showcase Fairmont Maldives’ best diving spots, right at the five-mile-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.
Having opened its doors in May 2018, Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi is an idyllic island paradise dedicated to educating the next generation of eco-conscious travellers. With the coral regeneration project, educational exploration of the coral reef, in-house marine biologists, a water distillery and, in early 2020, the installation of solar panels, the resort strives to protect and restore the wellbeing of local ecosystems.