Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds

The Oak Project’s first artist commission by Heather Peak and Ivan Morison launched in June 2021 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

What is Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds?

Silence is an exceptional sculpture, forged from earth, timber, paper and living trees. Holding light, space and stillness it will be 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 Peak 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”. – Clare Lilley, YSP Director of Programme

Marking World Environment Day 2021, the Oak Project launched Silence, hosted at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) and created by Heather Peak (b.1973, UK) and Ivan Morison (b.1974, Turkey), co-directors of Studio Morison.

Responding to the question, “Can art save us from extinction?”, the artists have created a timely and meaningful sculptural space that aims to create solitary communion with the natural world.

Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds is the first commission as part of a pioneering arts programme by The Oak Project to create kinship with nature in response to the climate emergency and environmental crisis. The new programme explores our relationship with the natural world and builds connection to nature through arts, culture and creativity.

Who are the artists behind Silence?

Heather Peak and Ivan Morison have established an ambitious collaborative practice over the past fifteen years that uses social sculpture to transcend the divisions between art, architecture and theatre. They are co-directors of Studio Morison, an artist led creative practice with the central mission of bringing meaning, beauty and purpose into everyday life.

Read more from Heather Peak and Ivan Morison.

What to expect at Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds

Our work 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.” – Studio Morison

Silence is a pavilion-like sculpture with passageways and an inner chamber providing space for quiet reflection and connection to the natural world. It stands in the heart of YSP in a wild lakeside area that has only recently been opened to the public. It is a space for silence where, at the artists’ request, talking and mobile phones are not permitted.

To discover the inner passageway of the pavilion, visitors will need to circle the structure walking mindfully beneath the overhang of thatch roof. Once inside, a series of staggered doorways will gradually lead you on a contemplative walk to its heart.

Its inwardly sloping roof, blanketed with 25 tonnes of fragrant, hand-tied heather, will intensify the noiselessness as you walk. The central chamber encircles a ring of 14 silver birch trees.

The work is constructed from natural, sustainable materials, including local timber, hand-tied heather and compressed earth. It will degrade naturally over a period of years, becoming a habitat for wildlife and slowly returning to the earth, eventually leaving only a faint imprint on the landscape.

Why everyone should visit Silence – Alone in a World of Wounds

Wildlife loss and climate crisis show our relationship with nature is failing. Our research shows the power of arts-based, sensory and meaningful emotion-based activities in building a closer connection to nature. When people are connected to nature, they are much more likely to do more to help the environment”. – Prof Miles Richardson, Professor of Nature Connectedness at the University of Derby

Our society is coping with three major emergencies: climate change, a severe mental health crisis and the risk of mass extinction. Yet at the heart of these three issues is the same thing – a broken relationship with nature. Silence works to heal that.

By immersing the visitor in a quiet, natural space, constructed mindfully with sustainable resources, Silence offers space to reflect on the beauty and fragility of the natural world, and the role you have to play in caring for it.

Find out more about the importance of nature connectedness.

Plan your visit to Silence in Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Silence is located within Yorkshire Sculpture Park, next to the Upper Lake amidst 500 acres of beautiful landscapes. It opened to the public on 5 June 2021 will remain open until it naturally degrades.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is open every day except 24 and 25 December, with opening hours varying. Tickets must be booked in advance.

Visit the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s website for more information.