A BRITISH artist’s unique gallery in the Maldives was destroyed by police with pickaxes because it was deemed offensive to 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.