Even if you couldn’t give a damn about Modern Art you’ll be impressed by the recent installation of sculptures on the sea bed off Grenada’s west coast, in Molinere Bay.
Forget the Damien Hirsts and Tracey Emins, and even Henry Moore’s graceful creations found in the grounds of historic homes and public buildings. The sculptures in Molinere Bay are extraordinary, tantalising and disturbing all at the same time.
They talk to us in a way that unmade beds and pickled sharks certainly don’t, and this may have a lot to do with the fact that they’re located underwater, an element deeply associated with the unconscious by Freud and Jung.
You have to dive down there to see them, into a world far removed from the National Gallery of Art. Moreover, they’re living sculptures, constantly transforming as corals grow on them and silt shifts and obliterates their features.
If this park was located off Florida or California there would be neon signs pointing the way, car parks, malls and an entire advertising machine working overtime to effectively ruin it. As it is, you have to hire a boat and find it yourself in the bay just north of St George’s, which is an intrinsic part of the creative experience. You’re interacting with these sculptures before you even know where they are. There’s something of the treasure hunt about it, of searching for a sunken pirate wreck.
The sculptures act not only as a nursery for the growth of new coral to replace the reefs that were decimated by tropical storms in recent years, but also as a celebration of local Grenadian culture and folklore. In an area where the locals have been exploited, marginalised and even killed down the centuries by European colonialists maddened by greed, there is a touching aspect to these works modelled on the ordinary men and women of the island.
British sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor created the figures after witnessing the amount of damage suffered by the reefs, and hit on the idea of using body casts of local people to illustrate aspects of Grenadian folk tales and history.
The result is awesome, and makes you think about Grenada in a new and unexpected way. Diving down to The Sculpture Park, Grenada is to enter the island’s secret life, like sharing someone’s dreams. And the dreams too are interactive. In complete silence, with only the occasional fellow diver coming into view in the distance, shoals of fish flashing by, finding these figures on the sea bed can trigger memories and reflections of your own and can be unsettling.
One woman diver said she couldn’t face La Diablesse, a she-devil from a Caribbean folk tale, an eerie, skeletal figure wearing a wide-brimmed hat, with encrusted eye sockets and weeds for petticoats. When currents stir up the silt and it swirls in lurid green mists around her, this figure is not something the sensitive diver would want to be around for long.
Other sculptures include The Lost Correspondent, a man sitting at a desk with a manual typewriter on it, gradually fading as nature reclaims man, desk and machine. Funny or frightening – the choice is yours, but paradoxically you won’t have any say in it.
Dive into yourself at Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada.