Seeing bits of old wood floating down a river isn’t typically a noteworthy event. There are lots of natural reasons for wood to end up in a river. Typically, however, the wood isn’t manipulated into the shape of a giant egg, and it’s very rare to find a laboratory inside. But if you’re lucky enough to spot the Exbury Egg floating down England’s Beaulieu River, that’s exactly what you’d discover.
The Egg is a temporary, energy efficient self-sustaining work space for artist Stephen Turner designed to meander in the estuary of the River Beaulieu. Turner means to study the life of a tidal creek and the Exbury Egg gives him a way to live and work right in the middle of the river without disrupting it with a motor or worrying about navigation.
Turner will tether the boat to the river bed to ensure that he won’t wash out to see unexpectedly. The craft, built from reclaimed timber planks, will serve as his home, office, and laboratory. Turner plans to live inside the egg for an entire year, during which time it will rise and fall with the tides, giving the artist unparalleled access to the river ecosystem.
“The artwork created will stem from Stephen’s occupation, developing through direct experience an understanding of local natural cycles and processes and the relationship of the environment to the narratives of human activity in the unending calendar of seasonal life,” explains the Exbury Egg website.
The interior of the egg, while sparse, feels warm and airy thanks to the wood paneling and natural sunlight. Solar panels donated by Anesco will provide electricity to charge Turner’s laptop, phone and webcam and therefore provide a platform to support his ongoing research. When the sun’s not shining, the solar panels will also provide power for small LED lights. Ample worksurfaces, a hammock, a portable camping WC, solar shower, marine paraffin stove and a locally-made charcoal burner, round out the tiny pod’s interior.
Why would Turner take on such a curious year-long adventure? To reconnect with an ecosystem long-forgotten in our busy modern world–one that’s likely to become more important to us as our negative impact on the planet becomes more apparent.
“Climate change is already creating new shorelines and habitats,” explains Turner. “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 for the flora as well as for people are challenging. Raising awareness of the past and the unfolding present of a very special location will be the task, whist living in an ethical relationship with nature and treading as lightly as possible upon the land.”
Learn more about the Exbury Egg and related educational campaigns here.