The Oak Project has launched its first artist commission, Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds, hosted at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP), by artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison. Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds was unveiled on World Environment Day on Saturday 5 June 2021.
Responding to the question “Can art save us from extinction?”, the artists have developed a sculptural space made of natural materials including timber and thatch that acts as an extended open pavilion and becomes a framework and quiet space set within nature. Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds is installed alongside Upper Lake at YSP within a stand of birch trees and aims to create solitary communion with the natural world.
Informed by research evidence from the Nature Connectedness Research Group at the University of Derby, the work is a circle, set within nature and a place for silence – a space where the artists ask that speech is not permitted – creating an area of calm contemplation. Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds invites visitors to stop and connect, to consider and experience and to listen to their natural surroundings. Over time, the work will become part of the landscape as the natural weather contributes to its decomposition, leaving only a slight indent and trace of a ring in the ground in years to come. The sculpture is constructed using materials sourced from within the West Bretton estate at YSP, and sustainably sourced timber from the artists’ own woodland.
This commission for the Oak Project embodies Heather Peak and Ivan Morison’s over 15-year practice to transcend the division between art and architecture and their mission of bringing meaning, beauty and purpose into everyday life, creating a synergy with the pathways to a new relationship with nature developed by the Nature Connectedness Research Group.
Speaking about the new commission, Heather Peak said, “Our work for the Oak Project must open the viewers’ eyes to the natural world, wounds and all, and through the shared grief create action – turning towards the world for what it has to teach us. We propose a space that is a kind of education of attention, that offers a protracted introduction in seeing things, hearing and feeling them. This work is a gift of time and attention.”
Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, comments: “Silence is an exceptional sculpture, forged from earth, timber, paper and living trees. Holding light, space and stillness it is a place of peace, an oasis of calm in which people will be inspired, moved and rejuvenated. Joining other YSP land art works by James Turrell, Andy Goldsworthy and David Nash – as well as the natural tree canopies that form spiritual spaces at Yorkshire Sculpture Park – Heather and Ivan Morison’s work contributes to the canon of sculpture in the open air, which now more than ever is so relevant and meaningful. Silence – Alone is a World of Wounds is the first Oak Project commission; from a number of submissions, it was unanimously selected and we are excited to be working with such thoughtful and skilled artists.”
Charlie Burrell, owner of the Knepp rewilding project and co-founder of The Oak Project, comments: “The landscapes of the UK may look green and pleasant, but the reality is habitats are fragmented and nature is struggling to hold on in small pockets. The sound of our countryside is indeed increasingly that of silence. But we know that through reintroduction of wildlife corridors, green bridges, regenerative farming practices and rewilding, nature can rapidly recover. 2021 will be a pivotal year in tackling the nature and climate emergency, with world leaders negotiating last-resort targets at two global United Nations summits. There has never been a more important time to reconnect people to nature and turn our silent spring into a raucous summer.”
Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds features a digital element developed with a group of young Manchester creatives who will create a moving image record of how light falls within the space and the natural world surrounding it. The moving image piece will capture the experience of being within the installation for visitors who may not be able to travel to YSP. Heather Peak and Ivan Morison will also collaborate with creatives to stage a performance within the installation, details of which will be available in late spring 2021.
The Oak Project is a partnership between Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the University of Derby and the Bronze Oak Project Ltd, a not-for-profit that promotes art as a way to create nature connection. Over the next five years, the project will pioneer arts-participation to create kinship with nature.