Never have I seen an art exhibition as mobbed as this one. Bumping me, jostling me and sometimes just hovering straight in front of me, this crowd is relentless.
Yet there’s not a human in sight. My fellow art lovers aren’t school groups, but actual schools of fish.
The gallery as such is an underwater sculpture park, off the coast of Molinere Bay in the tiny Windward Island of Grenada. I am joined by tubular silver trumpetfish, garish squadrons of parrotfish and sergeant major fish, the latter with the kind of flamboyant technicolour markings that would please budding abstract expressionists.
Waterworld: Stroll along a sandy, white beach in the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada
British artist Jason deCaires Taylor’s giant stone sculptures have been immersed here for more than a decade and have taken on the form of an artificial reef, in a vast range of colours and textures on top of eerie works such as Vicissitudes — 26 life-size children holding hands in a circle.
Drifting along the surface with my snorkel, I spot The Lost Correspondent, a sculpture of what looks to me like a long-lost Seventies BBC newsreader hunched over the front of a desk, reading a bulletin that will only ever be heard by the fishes.
Thoughts of a submerged Kenneth Kendall or Cliff Michelmore abate when I emerge for air, gazing up into turquoise skies, the odd scudding cloud and a vista of mountainous hillsides smothered with gargantuan fan palms, mango, mahogany and breadfruit trees.
Every Caribbean island dances to its own particular rhythm. Grenada’s energetic capital, St George’s, has more bump and grind than the neighbouring Grenadines islands, but there’s nowhere near the kind of frenetic booty shaking that you’d find in Jamaica or Puerto Rico.
It takes barely 90 minutes to drive from one side to the other, but there’s much to admire. Taking to the thin, tapering ribbon of mountain roads with my guide Edwin (a former presenter of the weekly Grenada lottery show), we spend the day spotting churning waterfalls, volcanic crater lakes, ancient stone chapels and fields of sweet potato, cabbage and nutmeg at vertiginous gradients, tended by locals while indolent goats look on.
One of the eerie works called Vicissitudes — 26 life-size children holding hands in a circle
St George’s is built around a perfectly-shaped horseshoe bay, where the ramshackle covered market is one giant spice rack full of potions, seeds, pastes and powders made from locally grown nutmeg, mace and saffron.
Hence it’s gained the Spice Island moniker.
Night comes with a bang, rather than a sigh. With the alacrity of somebody hastily fumbling for a dimmer switch, the sun sinks, the ocean churns and I bid farewell to Lottery Edwin. ‘Listen,’ he tells me as I head back to my beach-facing room at the Calabash Hotel, the sun turning burnt-orange, the sea flicking its silvery spume ahead.
‘We’ll never be a mainstream destination. But did you notice when you were underwater? Even most of the sculptures are smiling here. It’s what Grenada does best.’