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Artist Stephen Turner embarks on solo one-year study on New Forest’s river in the Exbury Egg

  • Date: 25 September 2013
  • Area: South West
Exbury Egg tethered on river

The Exbury Egg in location on the Beaulieu River. Credit: Image: Nigel Rigden www.nigrig.com

'Stephen Turner's Exbury Egg', a unique collaboration between the artist, architects, and engineers in the Solent area, has been making headlines around the world, supported by a £99,600 Arts Council England Grants for the arts award.

The Exbury Egg has been designed as a temporary living and working space for artist Stephen Turner in a project designed to connect people with the environment. 

Tethered in the estuary of the River Beaulieu in the New Forest, Hampshire, the Egg is an energy efficient, self-sustaining laboratory, studio and home for 12 months (15 July 2013 - 14 July 2014), while the artist studies the life of the tidal creek and creates work responding to his findings and his evolving relationship with the natural environment. At the end of this time, the egg itself becomes a sculptural artwork as part of the artist's time based practice. 

For this project, Stephen Turner worked with project leaders SPUD (Space, Place-making and Urban Design), architects from PAD Studio, and naval architect Dr Stephen Payne. The Egg was built by local craftsman Paul Baker in an old milking shed at Battramsley Farm, near Lymington. 

The wooden pod is made of red cedar and has eight kilometres of planking, 30kg of nails and 130kg of epoxy resin.  Recycled wood used in the project included a garage door and half a garden shed.  Inside there is a small kitchen/living space with wood-burning stove and a toilet, as well as Stephen's storage and work areas.

The Exbury Egg has recently been shortlisted for the prestigious Wood Awards 2013, the UK's premiere award scheme celebrating excellence in design in wood and a flagship for the best of British architecture, furniture and design.

An extensive education programme runs alongside the project, with opportunities for people of all ages to get involved, and a changing installation of ongoing work about the project can be seen at Mission Control in Exbury Gardens, Exbury.  For visitors from further afield, all of Stephen's Out-of-Egg activities are recorded on webcams and, in character as The Beaulieu Beadle, he will create, respond and blog extensively.

Artist Stephen Turner's work often involves spending long periods in odd abandoned places, noting changes in the complex relationship between human-made and natural environments.  His projects are rooted in research, which explores these themes in a variety of media, and a creative practice that involves sampling, collecting, annotating, editing and merging of historic, geographic and environmental data with more subjective investigations.

Stephen said: 'The Exbury Egg is a necessary intervention in the landscape at a key moment when climate change is already creating new shorelines and habitats. Established salt marsh is being eroded by a combination of rising sea levels and falling landmass and the entire littoral environment is in a state of flux. The implications for wildlife and flora as well as people are challenging and raise awareness of a particularly 21st century sort of tension and anxiety in our society where place is much talked about - yet where people are increasingly out of place and out of step with nature.'

'Stephen Turner's  Exbury Egg' project will build on the artist's previous work which includes installations for Turner Contemporary in Margate, Trinity Buoy Wharf in London, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art in Northamptonshire and recently for The Bridge Guard, Residential Art & Science Centre on the Danube Bend in _túrovo, Slovakia (2011-12).  His work is currently showing in the major exhibition 'Estuary' at the Museum of London Docklands until October 30th and he is showing newly commissioned work as part of the ACE funded Dukes Wood Project, for Ordinary Culture in Eakring, Nottinghamshire.

Since the Egg was launched in May 2013, project leaders SPUD (Space, Place-making and Urban Design) have been inundated with media enquires and requests for interviews from countries as far apart as South Korea and Venezuela with Stephen Turner and the Egg soon to feature in documentaries on Channel 4, Germany and the United States. 

SPUD is a Winchester-based organisation led by Mark Drury and Phil Smith, which emerged out of the Solent Centre for Architecture and Design.  The company is committed to promoting quality design and increasing people's understanding of and connection to the places they live.

SPUD's next project will be The Observatory, a sculptural installation that can be relocated and reconfigured to allow for a series of artist's residencies on different sites.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England said: 'This is a complex, innovative architectural and artistic project that has caught the imagination of people throughout the world. The Exbury Egg is an example of excellence in artistry, imagination and sustainability that offers audiences a new way to engage with contemporary visual art. It also has the potential to enrich our understanding of our relationship with the natural environment. We are delighted to be able to support it through our National Lottery funded Grants for the arts scheme.'

For more information, see http://www.exburyegg.org/ and Stephen's blog http://exburyegg.me/

You can follow The Egg on Twitter @exburyegg