Walkers on the Cumbria Coastal Way travelling south along the cobbled eastern shoreline of the Furness Peninsula will encounter Wildernest – a sanctuary garden, a place of rest. It is half a mile south of Sea Wood, below the Beach House – a timber framed house on stilts with a grass roof – which is the home and workplace of John Fox and Sue Gill.
Wildernest is about creating art in a context that unites the everyday and larger rhythms of nature, the tides and the seasons. Weathervanes and whirlygigs, poster poems, a jetty, benches, a locker, an Observation Pod by Duncan Copley set in a perfect E/W and N/S alignment with the ancient hill fort on the summit of Ingleborough, visible across the Bay in North Yorkshire’s Three Peaks. QR codes link to short videos created on site: The Oystercatchers’ Tale, Critters of Morecambe Bay, Secrets of The Rock.
In recent years ACE Grants for the Arts funded four artist commissions using Wood, Water, Stone and Wind. Martin Brockman, Peter Wilshaw, John Fox and Andrew Kim created installations – a ghost wolf, a mythic stag, a waterfall, a crater of dogs at Wildernest alongside the Cumbria Coastal Way. All materials were local: driftwood from the shoreline, coppiced hazel and poles from the Rusland Valley, nearby green willow, clay from Askam brickworks. They share a common thread of rootedness to place. Some installations last and as the elements – storm and snow, sun and gales – take hold, some inevitably decay and disappear.