Scafell Pike, inspiration to artists for many years

Scafell Pike, inspiration to artists for many years

Cumbrians are demanding the return of a crucial piece of England’s highest mountain, which an artist has admitted taking.

Tourism bosses said they want Ecuadorian artist Oscar Santillan to give back the small stone taken from Scafell Pike.

The rock features in an exhibition at the London gallery Copperfields, and is described by the exhibition organisers as the uppermost inch of the highest mountain in England. It forms part of Santillan’s The Intruder, which has the stone embedded in a pedestal.

A private viewing is being held today at the gallery in Southwark.

A description of the exhibition says: “The exhibition ultimately draws out the obscure. Unexpected events occur: the dance of a dead philosopher is unveiled, a piece of land is taken, nature and culture collide.

“Departing from the tradition of land art in making often major modifications to the natural landscape, The Intruder presents an inch of stone carefully removed from the English countryside.

“At a glance it is seemingly insignificant and yet the material is carefully presented. Scaling the 3,028ft Scafell Pike in the Lake District, the artist has taken the uppermost inch of the highest mountain in England.

Scafell Pike summit: 'an entire nation’s height is modified'

Scafell Pike summit: 'an entire nation’s height is modified'

“An entire nation’s height is modified and its landscape redefined by means of a single precise action. The artist explores the way in which human categories are imposed on nature: the largest, the tallest, the most powerful.”

Cumbria Tourism points out the mountain has inspired artists and writers for a long time, including most recently film-maker Terry Abraham, who produced Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike, recently broadcast on BBC4.

Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “We are all aware that Cumbria’s landscape has long inspired generations of artists. These include international greats like JMW Turner, Ruskin, Schwitters and Li Yyan-chia, considered to be one of the founding fathers of Chinese abstract painting.

“These individuals have all taken a piece of this landscape away in the figurative sense.

“This is taking the mickey and we want the top of our mountain back.

Oscar Santillan's The Intruder. Photo: Copperfields

Oscar Santillan's The Intruder. Photo: Copperfields

“At the very least we would like to see the piece returned to the county it has been removed from. Perhaps the artist would consider returning it in time for Lakes Culture’s spring arts programme, LakesIgnite, which runs until 26 May, and will include works like PaperBridge by environmental artist Steve Messam.”

Santillan’s exhibition also includes The Wandering Kingdoms, which ‘draws on the little known process of the early documentation of birdcalls’ and Afterword, in which he ‘connects elements as diverse as philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a defective typewriter, and dance’.

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