Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Egg man connects to environment

An artist is to spend a year living in a floating wooden egg for a project designed to connect people with the environment
Artist Stephen Turner pictured beside the Exbury Egg, his studio and occasional home

An artist is to spend a year living in a floating wooden egg for a project designed to connect people with the environment.

Stephen Turner will be nestled in a corner of the Beaulieu Estuary in Hampshire's New Forest until July next year to investigate the connection and disconnection people have with nature against the backdrop of climate change.

Armed only with a chemical toilet, a wood burning stove and electricity from solar panels, plus a small kitchen and living space, Mr Turner will document the landscape including marking litter that ends up in the estuary.

He has no fridge so food for the year will be dried, found on the estuary or tinned.

He is also aiming to swim in the water all year round as part of the connection with nature for the £140,000 project, funded by Arts Council England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Hampshire County Council. Local businesses have donated a further £100,000 in materials.

The 58-year-old was approached to take part in the art project by the Winchester-based Spud (Space Placemaking and Urban Design) organisation, and his a ctivity outside the egg is being followed 24 hours a day by two webcams and blogs and question and answer sessions, as part of an educational initiative with schools

Mr Turner, who has degrees in art and studied the history and philosophy of science, said the project would draw on his interests in natural history, geology and geography as well as archaeology and human history.

"I am an artist who is very interested in how the natural world works and most of my work is about natural processes and materials," he said.

"There is no doubt that worldwide the climate is changing, whether that is man-made or not. I thought, there is a change here in Hampshire and so let's make a work in this particular landscape that will have relevance around the world.

"The seas are rising, the established salt marsh is eroding and the shore line is changing and that is happening around the world, and I think our emotional responses to these changes are interesting.

"It's important it's a year too. We do not tend to look at things slowly now and I thought, these changes are happening incrementally and it's rare to get the opportunity to see that. It's important to connect to nature when, with a nine to five urban life, we are disconnected.

"Raising awareness of the past and the unfolding present of a very special location will be the task, whilst living in an ethical relationship with nature and treading as lightly as possible upon the land."

Mr Turner plans to release a dozen clear plastic "egglets" each month on the outgoing tide for people to find along the coast which will contain a message about the project and a map reference.

He is hoping the egglets will go far but accepts some might only get 200 yards.

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