Location (see map): Molinere Beauséjour Marine Protected Area, Grenada
Installation Date: 2023
The Coral Carnival is the largest collection within the expansion of The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. Jason deCaires Taylor added the new sculptural series to the park, which draw inspiration from Grenada’s vibrant annual carnival called Spicemas. The sculptural procession portrays a range of symbolic carnival characters each celebrating the country’s rich culture and history.
Created in collaboration with a talented team of local Grenadian artists, The Coral Carnival features 25 stylised sculptures that capture the essence of some of Grenada’s most iconic masqueraders. This is the first time colour has been used on Taylor’s underwater sculptures and uses a calcium carbonate base with natural pigments. From Jab Jab with its chain details symbolising emancipation, to the elaborately dressed fancy dancers, each sculpture is uniquely finished to showcase traditional costumes and textured to allow marine creatures to colonise and thrive.
Jab Jab has been one of the main characters in Grenada’s cultural festivities for many years and is unique to the island. Although the name translates to “double devil,” the masqueraders are not the devils themselves or related to demonic culture. Instead, they are satirising the thoughts and actions of slave masters from the past. Local artists sculpted traditional elements for each Jab Jab to carry – serpents, animal skulls, and dead fish – then painted the sculptures with organic black squid ink pigments to represent the molasses or engine oil that masqueraders traditionally cover their bodies in during Spicemas.
Short Knee is another long-standing character. Men, women, and children wear the same colourful costumes and chant one or two lines of verse telling stories about their life or village while masquerading. Each Short Knee sculpture wears the traditional 3⁄4 length jumpsuit, white trainers and small ankle bells. Circular mirrors and white talcum powder are to warn away enemies whilst the bell anklets make their presence known. The individually hand-painted wire masks sit on a white towel head piece and often feature a simply painted goat or sheep’s face.
Vieux Corps typically feature tall pointed hats, wooden shoes, and full-length cloaks made from black, red or purple cloth. Their faces, concealed with wire mesh masks, symbolise the loss of identity endured through slavery. The masks and cloaks are customised with a variety of organic pigments such as squid ink, cochineal and turmeric. Boots are attached to large wooden soles to create a loud noise as they stomp through towns and villages.
The Wild Indian character originates from the Amerindian heritage of immigrants from South America. Each character dressed in colourful clothing includes a short skirt, a tall feathered head dress, and beaded jewellery. Their faces and bodies are hand-painted to include traditional details.
The vibrant costumed dancers of Fancy Mas are another iconic symbol of Grenada’s celebrations. The sculptures – adorned with jewels, sequins, and feathers – are distinctively painted, temporarily recreating the vibrancy of Caribbean carnival’s until the abundant surrounding marine life takes hold and replaces it with its own bright colouration and texture.
The sculptural works were created using high-grade stainless steel and pH-neutral marine cement. The bases of the sculptures are intended to look like rock formations and include holes and shelters for marine life such as octopuses and lobsters. Placed on the sea floor in a linear procession, The Coral Carnival extends the collection of many of Taylor previous works at The Moliniere Underwater Sculpture Park. The celebrated underwater park, originally created in 2006 by Taylor, was first of its kind in the world and is the inception for all his subsequent projects. New editions of The Lost Coorespondent and Unstill Life were also installed during 2023, making a total of 27 new works submerged suitable to both snorkelers and divers to visit.
To discover more of Jason deCaires Taylor’s projects, view Exploring the Underwater World Through Sculpture here.
Commissioned and Funded by: Ministry of Implementation and Tourism, Grenada and the World Bank