New Forest's floating 'eggman' Stephen Turner hatches

By Indy Almroth-Wright
BBC News


Artist Stephen Turner has spent the past 12 months living in a floating "egg" on the edge of the New Forest as part of a project documenting nature. But how has he coped during 365 days and nights rising and falling with more than 700 tides?

For most people an egg is something chickens lay, just a food.

But for Mr Turner it took on a whole different meaning a year ago when he moved into a giant wooden one on the watery edge of the New Forest National Park in Hampshire.

The aim of the project was to explore the changing nature of the landscape during the course of four complete seasons.

"The egg has been my life, it's been 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Mr Turner said.

"It was like a clock, every 12 hours it popped out of the riverbed as the tide came in.

"Days were filled with routine tasks of cleaning, washing, cooking, emptying the chemical loo, filling the fresh water tanks and emptying the bilge.

"These were intermixed with drawing, photography and video making to document my experiences."

Image source, Stephen Turner
Image source, Stephen Turner

Describing himself as "a custodian of nature" he has been recording marine ecology and making new art work, in, on and around the tidal creek surrounding the egg.

Launched on 15 July, the 6m by 2.8m egg is made from reclaimed cedar and registered as a boat.

It was built by local boat builder Paul Baker on a farm in the New Forest, with engineering input from the chief designer of the Queen Mary II cruise ship, Stephen Payne.

Despite leaks and and mould taking over his food and clothes during the winter storms, Mr Turner said he never felt like giving up.

Inside, the egg has a toilet and pull-out shower, and small kitchen, but no fridge.

Heating comes from a wood-burning stove, with electricity from portable solar panels.

After showering with water from a pump action garden pressure sprayer, Mr Turner said he was looking forward to "the luxury of hot running water".

Image source, Stephen Turner

For Mr Turner, who has degrees in art and studied the history and philosophy of science, the project was an attempt "to be the voice for the tides, the terns and all the creatures and flora that call this place home".

During his residence, Mr Turner made jam, wine, ink and clothing dye and a boat from recycled materials which he fitted with a camera.

He also visited local schools and Bournemouth University where he was involved in art workshops, projects and talks about the egg with children.

Many tide line discoveries during a daily walk to gather material included an EtchASketch, a toy pig and a sea bass "but the most practical find was a hat, lost overboard".

He said: "When I close the door what I will take away is a memory. You can never leave a memory behind. It always lives with you."

The £150,000 project was funded by Arts Council England, The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Hampshire County Council.

The egg, along with Mr Turner's artworks and shore finds will now be prepared for a national tour.

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