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Major land art project on Lake District coast

The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson will create his first permanent outdoor work in the UK—a steel basin filled with sea water—on the West Cumbria coastline in north-west England. Eliasson’s project, provisionally entitled Your Daylight Destination, was devised in collaboration with the writer Robert Macfarlane.

Eliasson’s new work is part of a major new public art programme launching this summer called Deep Time: Commissions for the Lake District Coast. The Deep Time initiative is commissioned by Copeland Borough Council and funded by the UK government’s Coastal Communities Fund, Arts Council England and the nuclear waste managenent company Sellafield’s “Six: Social Impact, Multiplied” programme—a government-led £2.2m regeneration fund.

Eliasson beat off competition from the Turner prize-winner Rachel Whiteread; the UK artist Roger Hiorns in collaboration with the architect Tom Emerson; and the Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. The judging panel included Clare Lilley, the director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Eliasson aims to create an elliptical steel basin that will fill twice a day with sea water following high tide. “The design, which is proposed for a site near Silecroft [in southern Copeland], uses the beach as a stage for an expansive artwork utilising the daily tides, sea water and light,” a project statement says.

Visitors will be able to view the steel pool, which will stretch into the mud flats, on an accompanying viewing platform comprising a series of rings mounted on stands. The rings—inspired by prehistoric rock art discovered in Cumbria—form a circle around the enclosed pool. “The resulting pool acts like a mirror, reflecting the sun, moon and sky in its surface, a ‘borrowed’ view of the sky in the sand,” the statement adds.

Eliasson says in a statement: “[The work] is a humble reflection of what is already there—the beach, the water, the sky, the plants and animals—reframed within a space that invites self-discovery in a deep-time perspective.”

The Deep Time initiative also encompasses other small-scale commissioned works by Marcus Coates, Susan Philipsz, Martin Boyce, Atelier Van Lieshout, Yelena Popova and Ryan Gander, which will be shown at coastal locations. Philipsz will develop a new work for Whitehaven Harbour—home to one of the oldest remaining coal wharves in the country—while Boyce is making a permanent piece for Silecroft Beach. The programme also features five new writers’ commissions by authors including Himali Singh Soin.