Artist spends year inside an egg tethered on the bank of River Beaulieu

By Sarah Jackson | 10 September 2013

Visitors to the New Forest this year may have expected to see beautiful woodland and freely-roaming ponies. But those who venture down to the estuary of the River Beaulieu are likely to come across a giant egg.

Egg-shaped structure lies tethered off a jetty on an estaury
The Exbury Egg on the bank of the River Beaulieu.© Nigel Rigden
In a unique collaboration between architects, engineers and local craftsman, artist Stephen Taylor is spending a year living in an egg-shaped eco studio/home.

Project leaders SPUD (Space, Place-making and Urban Design), architects from PAD Studio and naval architect Dr Stephen Payne designed The Exbury Egg as a temporary living and working space to connect people with the environment.

Built by local craftsman Paul Baker in an old milking shed at Battramsley Farm, near Lymington, The Egg is energy-efficient, self-sustaining and despite - perhaps even because of - its eccentric shape, it is cosy and homely-looking. It is made of red cedar and recycled wood, including a garage door and half a garden shed.

Taylor’s work often involves him spending long periods of time in strange, often abandoned places as he notes changes in the complex relationship between human-made and natural environments.

In The Exbury Egg, he is studying the life of the tidal creek, creating work that responds to his findings and his changing relationship with his new environment. The data collected during the year is being analysed by students from the Oceanography department at the University of Southampton.

“The Exbury Egg is a necessary intervention in the landscape at a key moment when climate change is already creating new shorelines and habitats," he says.

"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.”

The Egg itself has already been shortlisted for the esteemed Wood Award 2013 which celebrates excellence in design in wood.

For those able to visit the project, an extensive educational program is running simultaneously, creating opportunities for people of all ages to get involved. Mission Control in Exbury Gardens is also hosting a changing installation of ongoing work about the project.

For visitors from further afield, all of Taylor's Out-of-Egg activities are recorded on webcams. In character as The Beaulieu Beadle - “a guardian of the foreshore and the ‘herald who makes aware’ in my small personal parish around the egg” - he is sharing his experiences, insights and creations.

More pictures:

Artist Stephen Taylor sits in a wooden egg-shaped structure.
Stephen Taylor inside The Egg.© Nigel Rigden
Interior of egg-shaped structure with bench, hammock, ben bag and cooker all visible.
Interior of The Egg.© Nigel Rigden
Egg-shaped wooden structure tethered to another boat in an estuary.
The Exbury Egg.© Nigel Rigden

Follow Sarah Jackson on Twitter @SazzyJackson

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