The mystery of 'the Sharpham egg' is solved!
Published: 04 March 2020
We reveal the person who laid the Sharpham egg!
The mystery of the Sharpham Egg has been solved!
A cairn of carefully piled stones has been delighting and mystifying visitors to the South Lawn and the Formal gardens for more than a year.
The sculpture appeared suddenly around Christmastime 2018, on the stump of our beloved (but rotten inside) Copper Beech tree.
No-one on Sharpham's staff saw the sculpture being made and retreatants had no clue either. The mystery of who laid the 'egg' remained...until our Christmas retreat just gone!
Retreat leader Maite Alonso was heading a walk with retreatants through the gardens, past the sculpture, when one of them remarked on it. That retreatant was the 'sculptor': Peter Cambouropoulos.
"It was put together to last a week at most," he said. "I came back wondering what might have happened to the stones. I was absolutely amazed that they were still there! It's like seeing an old friend."
Peter was on our Winter Retreat 2018 and spent his silent Christmas Day building the form.
"All the stones were laying on the top of the soil...It seemed like a nice way of using the stones, and of saying goodbye to the old tree," he said.
"I went out originally that day to see if there was anything that called to me to do something with. The fact that the tree had been cut down seemed to need some sort of statement made - about it having been there, honouring its life and death."
"Also, on a practical level, the stump provided a solid base and was surrounded by building materials. It all came together!"
The build took Peter around 3 hours and is just one of a collection of natural artworks he's made over the last 20 years, having become inspired by famous land-artist Andy Goldsworthy (work pictured)
"Doing this is a really nice way of getting your hands dirty in nature!" said Peter. "There's something about actually feeling the material world with your hands which is different to just looking at it."
"It is something I do now and again, wandering around, seeing what kind of natural materials are asking to have something done with them."
Peter, from Romsey in Hampshire, is a microbiologist by training, now working in information technology. He hesitates to call himself an artist, but he draws and takes photos - and notices the light conditions too.
"Sharpham is such a beautiful place and it's different every day here: the weather, the light, you really notice it and the effect that has on your mood and on everybody else," he said.
Like Andy Goldsworthy, Peter rejoices in the fact that his natural sculptures are impermanent. "It will fall down, and I will be pleased when it does," he said.
"Maybe someone else will use those stones for something else. My sculptures don't last for ever, and they're not supposed to."
Our Christmas and New Year 2020 retreats will be put on sale in April
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