Undersea sculptures celebrate Grenada's island culture

The Coral Carnival. All images: Jason deCaires Taylor

The Caribbean island of Grenada has expanded its world-first undersea sculpture park to celebrate the country's rich culture and history and provide new marine habitats.

The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, created by Jason deCaires Taylor in 2006, has been given a major upgrade. The Coral Carnival collective includes 27 new sculptures by Taylor and local artists and draws inspiration from Grenada's annual carnival, Spicemas.

The sculptures were created using high-grade stainless steel and pH-neutral marine cement. Various textures have been used which create diverse habitat spaces to allow marine life to colonise and thrive. The bases of the sculptures are intended to look like and mimic rock formations with holes and shelters for animals such as octopuses and lobsters.

To ensure the existing local reef is not damaged, a series of new moorings have been installed to anchor the sculptures. Placed on the sea floor, but only three metres from the surface so both snorkelers and divers can view the park, the sculptures range from two to seven meters in height, and are life-cast from members of the local community.

It is the first time colour has been used on underwater sculptures and uses a calcium carbonate base with natural and organic pigments including black squid ink, cochineal, and turmeric.

Funded by the Grenadian Ministry of Implementation and Tourism and the World Bank, Coral Carnival tells the stories of historical characters and portrays a range of iconic carnival characters. These include Vieux Corps with pointed hats and full-length cloaks, which symbolise the loss of identity endured through slavery, and Jab Jab with its chain details symbolising emancipation.

Vibrant and elaborately dressed dancers and storytellers are also represented, each uniquely hand-painted and finished to showcase traditional details and costumes with distinctive jewels, sequins, and feathers.

These details temporarily recreate the vibrancy of the Spicemas carnival until, eventually, the abundant surrounding marine life takes hold and replaces it with its bright colouration and texture in the form of coral.