Dramatic new perch for lucky Kielder birds

Kielder Water & Forest Park has finally been able to launch its most unusual  artwork to date.

As part of the Heritage Lottery funded “Living Wild at Kielder” project, and Kielder Art & Architecture, a dramatic new commission: Plashetts Rising, has been created to emerge from the depths of Kielder Water.

The installation was delayed from last November due to the water level being too high. However, this year the dry spring and summer allowed the level to drop sufficiently to be able to position this structure on the reservoir bed. Now all that remains is for autumn rain and the water to rise, so that Plashetts Rising can be seen with full, striking effect, emerging as if magically from the depths.

Plashetts Rising’s sculpted rock-scape has been designed and developed with an ornithologist to ensure it works as an eye-catching piece of design; as a look-out perch for ospreys and other birds to look for fish to catch; and as a convenient resting place for all types of birdlife.  It has been designed by Pascal Bronner and Thomas Hillier of FleaFolly Architects, London. Additional funding for this project also came from The Bartlett School of Architecture’s Project Fund in London and support for the Art & Architecture programme as a whole has been provided by Arts Council England.

Plashetts Rising takes the form of a surreal, “floating” rock. The top is sculpted to hold a series of timber lengths that create an easy perching place.

The name Plashetts comes from the now-flooded Plashetts Quarry that lies submerged next to the sculpture, from which much rock was quarried during the construction of the dam.

The return of the ospreys to Kielder Water & Forest Park in 2009 after an absence of 200 years in Northumberland is a fantastic conservation success story. This year (2018) saw five breeding pairs at Kielder, fledging eight chicks, who are now making their winter migration south. Over the summer, the expert Kielder osprey partnership team monitored the nests from afar and kept a watchful eye on the birds.

Kielder Living Landscape Manager Katy Barke, says:“Plashetts Rising will be a great perch for many different varieties of bird, and because of the height of the installation, visitors will be able to identify them quite easily. However, this giant, dramatic resting place should be particularly popular with ospreys who feed on live fish and look for their food by hovering over the water. They dive into the water with wings swept back, pushing their talons forward at the last minute to grab the fish from below the surface. Ospreys are migratory birds and usually leave for southern climes in August and September, so they will have a surprise when they return to Kielder in late March and April! They are an “amber list” species because of their recovering status, but are going from strength to strength in Kielder, hence the great interest.”

Peter Sharpe, Art & Architecture Curator for Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust says: “Plashetts Rising aligns perfectly with an ambition to commission art and architectural work that is inspired by Kielder’s unique landscape while also integrating art into the many ways that visitors enjoy, orientate, and learn about the Park during their visit.

The rock of Plashetts Rising sits on a series of thin structural supports bonded into an underwater foundation that, when viewed from the water’s edge and beyond, will disappear into the surrounding landscape leaving behind a gravity defying mass.

Plashetts Rising is a resting place for birds that is both alien and familiar to the spectacular surroundings and reflects the surrounding landscape and history of Kielder, creating a historic and material link to its surroundings”.

Pascal Bronner and Thomas Hillier of FleaFolly say: We’ve long been aware of the great work going on in this enchanted landscape, so working on this project has been a great privilege. Inspired by both the amazing natural landscape of Kielder Water & Forest Park and Rene Magritte’s The Castle of the Pyrenees, we wanted to create something that felt like it was quarried and carved physically from Kielder’s past, ripped from the reservoir and hung in space for all to see. Our work often explores surreal qualities, and more often than not our two-dimensional drawn work defies the limits set by a gravitational world, something easily done on paper. It has been a pleasure to be given an opportunity to test some of these ideas in the flesh.”

Lynn Turner, Director of the Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust, said: “I would like to thank National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting ‘Living Wild at Kielder’; a project that helps people experience and learn about the area’s special animals, birds and plants.  Plashetts Rising links nature, creative art and the history of Kielder with a contemporary visitor experience.  We love it and we hope all our visitors - particularly ospreys and other birds  -  will too.”

Everyone will be eagerly awaiting the return of the ospreys in spring 2019 to see how they enjoy their new perch! 

And perhaps even more birds will decide to make their home at Kielder as a result?

An ever-evolving assembly of nearly 25 widely different and dramatic art and architecture installations are located around the lake and within the forest to be enjoyed by all who visit. Some are temporary and new art is frequently commissioned which means there is always something surprising and different to experience.

Although there is no particular theme for the creations - which adds to their fantastic diversity and scale, each installation offers an interesting insight into the way the artist or architect has responded to the unusual environment.

For more information on Kielder Art & Architecture please go to www.kielderartandarchitecture.com.

Dramatic new perch for lucky Kielder birds