One week after the 2023 Celebration of Grenada’s carnival, in a spectacular display of artistic innovation, cultural celebration, and marine conservation, the Grenada Tourism Authority unveils 31 new sculptures for inclusion in Grenada’s Underwater Sculpture Park.
The ceremony, which was held at the Prickly Bay Marina on Tuesday, marked the project’s breath of new life into the attraction that is set to captivate tourists from around the world and serve as a testament to Grenada’s commitment to preserving its natural treasures.
According to CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Petra Roach, this initiative was made possible through funding from the World Bank, sought by the government in October 2020. She said the aim was to secure “approval for a design and construction of new and replacement sculptures, the removal of any damage sculptures and the installation and replacement of new sculptures.”
This story of the Underwater Sculpture Park dates back to 2018 when the Grenada Tourism Authority, in collaboration with local stakeholders, initiated a competition to rejuvenate the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. A victim of the ravages of Hurricane Ivan, Molinere Bay had suffered significant storm damage, necessitating a fresh approach to restore the area’s vibrancy. The concept was to not only reinvigorate the park but also provide a haven for marine life to flourish.
Sculpted by the visionary behind the park’s inception, renowned artist Jason deCaires Taylor, the recent expansion unveils a new chapter in the park’s history, anchored by a winning design that beautifully captures Grenada’s rich cultural heritage. Aleen Golston’s winning concept, titled “Wet Pet, Spice Mas Underwater,” brings to life the vibrant figures of Grenada’s biggest cultural celebration, Spice Mas. This inspiration birthed the enchanting “Coral Carnival,” an assembly of 25 underwater sculptures crafted from sustainable ocean-friendly materials and pigments. The figures portray iconic Grenadian Carnival Masqueraders, embodying the spirit of the Jab Jab, Vieux Coup, Shortknee, Wild Indian, and Pretty Mas that will be added to the park in October 2023.
Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor shared insights into the process. He revealed that each sculpture is meticulously crafted to be “recognisable,” cast from “real Grenadian”. He said this personal touch not only brings authenticity to the art but also creates a profound connection between the sculptures and the local community.
Four additional sculptures – the Leatherback Turtle, Mamaglow, La Diablesse, and the Ballet Dance – managed by More Safe Group Limited and molded by the talented local artist Troy Lewis, will also be added.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Minister for Tourism, Hon Lennox Andrews, stated that the project embodies the essence of tourism. He said, “Tourism is making available to others what we have that they don’t have and that for our tourism industry to grow and to expand, it means that we must not only preserve and protect what we have; we must always come up with new ideas to enhance and to develop and to upgrade so that when the tourists come, what they get and what they see is a new experience; something that simultaneously would give that ‘wow’ effect and cause them to leave our homeland with fond memories of our country and of our people and I think that this project seeks to do that.”
Chairman of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Randall Dolland, echoed Minister Andrews’ sentiments and emphasised the significance of this expansion in showcasing Grenadian folklore and tradition.
He said, “When we are advertising these images from Europe all the way to the West Coast of the United States and further, they’re going to be asking the questions, what are these images? Why are they here? What do they represent? They have no choice to really start engaging, talking about our culture, talking about Carnival and also embracing the folklore characters that’s there.”
The Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, conceived in 2006 stands as the world’s first Underwater Sculpture Park. Over the years, it has become a mecca for divers and snorkelers alike, offering a unique blend of tourism and environmental conservation.
Currently spanning 800 square meters and housing 75 sculptures, the park’s attractions include notable works like “Vicissitudes,” “Amerindian Petroglyphs,” “Lost Correspondent,” “Nutmeg Princess,” and “Christ of the Deep.” Its significance has been recognized globally, earning a spot among the “25 Wonders of the World” by National Geographic.