British artist’s Maldives gallery destroyed after being deemed as ‘offensive to Islam’

maldives gallery destoryed islam

The tidal gallery belonged to artist Jason deCaires Taylor and featured semi-submerged art that appeared and disappeared when the tide went in and out.

But former Maldives president Abdulla Yameen ordered the piece, called Coralarium, to be demolished due to a ban on the depiction of religious idols — despite there being none in the works.

Mr deCaires Taylor said: “I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue.

“The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else.”

He added: “The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population, but it was a sad day for art and sad day for the environment.”

The gallery was the world’s first of its kind and featured sculptures of people that could be explored by residents on the stunning resort.

The large metal piece would at as a shattered space offering permanent sanctuary for an array of colourful ocean life.

A Fairmont Maldives spokesman said: “While we are very surprised by the sudden removal of eco-art pieces by the authorities we respect the people, traditions and customs of the Maldives.

maldives gallery destroyed islam

“The removal process of the installed artwork was peaceful and friendly without interruption to our world famous service.

“The Coralarium gallery structure and the tree lined underwater coral boulevard remains intact, ensuring the coral restoration program remains alive and well. We have initiated immediate plans for the next exhibit, creating a new attraction within the Coralarium gallery.”

The giant cube had been installed in the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi in July, but Mr Yameen ordered its removal two days before he lost out to his liberal competitor in a shock Maldives general election over the weekend.

Mr Yameen said this reason for doing so was due to “significant public sentiment” against the artwork.

maldives gallery destroyed islam

The region is prominently Islam and home to around 340,000 Sunni Muslims, the largest denomination of the religion.

Sunni Muslims are also prominent in countries such as Libya, Egypt and Algeria.

Sunday’s general election saw the little-known Ibrahim Mohamed Solih scoop a victory over Mr Yameen with 58 percent of the votes.