Striking new artwork ‘Optohedron’ has been installed along the North Downs Way National Trail, a short walk from Newlands Corner in the Surrey Hills. Created by artist Will Nash, this distinct sculptural seat is the latest addition to a Surrey Hills Arts project titled ‘Inspiring Views’, which opens up hidden views, undertakes conservation work, improves access and commissions artists to interpret the views through art.
This installation is a result of a huge amount of local collaboration and has only been made possible by the generous donations received through a crowd funding campaign and support from Surrey Arts and the North Downs Way National Trail. The crowdfunding campaign launched in the summer of 2019 received a huge amount of local and regional support with the target of £8000 achieved in just 12 weeks!
Ali Clarke, Surrey Hills Arts Programme Manager comments; ‘We are so touched that many people were inspired by this project enough to donate and make it happen. Thanks so much to everyone who has contributed.’
Artist Will Nash was commissioned to create the striking sculptural seat, developed from his fascination for geometry and patterns in nature. Created from weathering steel and packed with timber from the surrounding woodland the seat blends into the landscape sympathetically. Concealed within the timber are three spherical kaleidoscopes, one looking up at the branches against the sky, one capturing the tree foliage and one down towards the earth. The artwork has been named ‘Optohedron’ derived from the ancient Greek: optikós, “of seeing” and hédra “raised seat”.
Will Nash comments; “The Optohedron sculpture is inspired by the act of viewing, thinking about seeing as the fundamental interface between the person and the world. Whilst exploring this idea, I investigated optics, the science of light, which took me to an ancient instrument, the kaleidoscope.”
Wildlife conservation work led by volunteers from National charity, Butterfly Conservation undertook work parties to create habitat areas for butterflies to flourish around the new viewpoint. This work is particularly beneficial for the declining Small Blue butterfly. By creating food source and linking patches of habitat across the North Downs helps the species to disperse and increase in number.
Bill Downey, volunteer for Butterfly Conservation comments; “I loved being a part of this project and working with Butterfly Conservation to help this vulnerable species. We’ve been scraping the soil back to the chalk and planting Kidney Vetch, a food source for butterflies and by keeping the scrub down we hope will allow butterflies and other wildlife to thrive”.
Also lending a helping hand with the conservation work are a team from Surrey Choices who have been cutting back vegetation to open up and maintain the views on Newlands Corner.
Surrey Choices work to support individuals of any age and disability, to fulfil their potential, improve independence and confidence and achieve valuable life skills.
Mark Evenden, Surrey Choices Growth Team comments; “The team have really benefited from being part of this project and working together with other members of the community to create a space for everyone to visit. It has given the people we support a chance to be part of a meaningful project that makes a real difference for both members of our community and the wildlife. The customers we support have enjoyed engaging with members of the public while out completing works in the Surrey Hills.”
Michael Baxter, Albury Estate comments; “Having seen the impact of the other inspiring views projects in Surrey, the Albury Estate was delighted to work with Surrey Hills Arts to introduce this innovative seating designed by Will Nash as a focal point to the clearance and restoration of this lost view over the Surrey Hills from Newlands Corner. Ongoing work by volunteers from Butterfly Conservation to promote and secure a habitat suitable for butterflies will ensure this area will be maintained for the future.”
The ‘Inspiring Views’ programme was launched in 2016 with five sculptural seats along the Greensand Way in South West Surrey.
For further information on all the Inspiring Views projects visit; www.inspiringviews.org