Exbury Egg

Artist, Stephen Turner, who specialises in long term artistic explorations of environmental settings, has worked with the designers to create the Egg which he will now use as a ‘residency’, floating in the Beaulieu Estuary for a year, to examine the changing patterns of its marine ecology. He will produce artworks inspired by his surroundings to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the places like the Estuary.

The project is led by art, architecture and education consultants, Space Placemaking and Urban Design (SPUD Group). SPUD project manager, Phil Smith explains: “Everything about this project looks to the value of our environment and sustainability, from the design and build of the Egg, to working with Stephen Turner to raise awareness of environmental change, to creating a cross curriculum education programme for schools and colleges.”

Created and designed by PAD studio and Stephen Turner, the Egg was inspired by the nesting seabirds on the shore. It was built locally, by boat-builder Paul Baker, as a cold moulded cedar plywood sheathed structure approximately 6 metres long and 2.8 metres in diameter, whose aging will be tracked by the artist. Local Douglas Fir will be used for the supporting ribs and internal framing; continuing the age-old tradition of timber marine construction, which can be traced back many centuries on the Beaulieu River.

Wendy Perring, the project architect, explains: ‘It was our intent to explore the creation of a minimal impact live/work structure, using materials with a low embodied energy sourced within a twenty mile radius, and put together by a team of local craftsmen using centuries old techniques. We want to test the minimum someone needs to live quite comfortably, and how we can minimise the impact on the environment.”

The Egg is not connected to any form of servicing. Power will be provided from a series of photovoltaic panels which will trickle feed into several domestic car batteries that the artist will change over on a weekly basis. This will allow him to run a computer and charge a mobile phone so that some contact with the outside world is maintained. Monitoring devices will provide daily data readings of the amount of energy being generated and consumed which will be displayed on the project website. Grey and black waste will be fed into holding tanks which will have to be carried by the artist to a local septic tank, and fresh water will be brought on board on a daily basis.

Inspired by the estuary and its ecology, Stephen Turner will incorporate the Egg into his artwork, a developing record of his work will be available for the public to see at Exbury Gardens and on the project website. Stephen explains his plans: “My contribution to the design concept of the structure itself was its symbolic egg form, that will decay and change during my occupation; turning the egg into a calendar revealing the impact of 365 days of changing weather and tides upon its surface. My idea is to show that nothing is forever and that understanding and welcoming such change should be part of our sustainable relationship with the rest of nature.

“I wanted to intervene 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.”

SPUD’s Project Manager, Mark Drury, says: “We’re thrilled this is all coming to life. Stephen Turner’s contribution from start to finish gives huge credibility to the whole project; we know he will create some quite brilliant art but he has also helped develop the unique egg design and, without doubt, will make a big contribution to raising awareness of the sustainability issues facing us.”

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