The man sits at his desk, hands hovering over a typewriter, but he is unlikely ever to put words to paper. He's made of cement and steel and firmly bolted to the substrate 22 feet under the surface of the sea, kept company by banded coral shrimp in the desk drawers, urchins on his head and damselfish that have staked a claim to his typewriter. The Lost Correspondent is one of the pieces in Grenada's newest attraction, an underwater sculpture garden in a marine park just offshore in Moliniere Bay. Created by British artist Jason de Caires Taylor and completed last summer, the installation comprises 65 sculptures anchored to the seafloor in an eerie and unlikely marine gallery for snorkelers and divers. (Parts of the display can also be spotted from glass-bottomed boats.) Some of the haunting subjects are originals, like Vicissitudes (shown in photo gallery) and the mysterious sleeping figures that make up Grace Reef. Others are inspired by characters from Grenadian folklore.
A dive instructor and former graffiti artist, Taylor uses his work to combine two passions. "I've always lived near the sea," says the 32-year-old. "And I'm very interested in public art and how an object changes in response to its environment." Sixteen months in the making, his forms invite function: Treated with a pH-reducing additive to make them coral-friendly, the cement figures serve as artificial reefs, offering sanctuary for small fish and other organisms. As time passes, each piece transforms: Smooth, chalky surfaces morph from green to brown, pockmarked by sea currents and sprouting fuzzy pink and red coral polyps. "It'll take between 10 and 80 years for hard coral to form," Taylor notes, "but I've already seen initial traces of brain coral on some of the statues." Divers and snorkelers can see for themselves by arranging a tour through operators like Dive Grenada Scuba Centre (divegrenada.com) and ScubaTech Dive Center (scubatech-grenada.com).