It's Art: The Tip of England's Tallest Mountain

Many think Oscar Santillan's taking of a stone from Scaffel Pike's summit is an act of vandalism. Actually, it's art.

by Emerson Rosenthal
Mar 31 2015, 9:30pm

Every now and then, The Creators Project comes across an artwork that surprises and delights us every bit as much as it confuses us and otherwise has us begging for answers. This is art that defies conventions, challenges sensibilities, and breaks down barriers between comprehension and critique. You might like it—you might not "get it." But we do. Take a deep breath and remember, it's art!

The tip of England's tallest mountain no longer sits atop England's tallest mountain—instead, it's been on a pedestal, lit from above by a single, unadorned lightbulb, ever since Ecuadorian artist Oscar Santillan opened up new show To Break a Silence into Smaller Silences at the Copperfield Gallery in London.

"The artist suggests that an entire nation's height can be modified by means of a single careful action," explains Copperfield Gallery of the work, known as The Intruder. To create the one-inch piece, which Santillan describes as a "small suggestive gesture," the artist summitted the 3,209' Scaffel Pike in Cumbria's Lake District and, like one would a loose seashell, took it. Many native Brits have taken to the internet, however, to protest what they see as an unceremonious theft. "This is taking the mickey and we want the top of our mountain back," Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, told The Telegraph.

"No damage, vandalism, chiseling, or inappropriate behaviour towards nature took place in the making of this work," Santillan defends in a recently published response to the work's backlash. "I do empathise with those who are truly concerned with the conservation of the British mountains. Hopefully this controversy becomes an opportunity to bring attention to these important concerns, rather than debating about a one-inch stone." Santillan then goes on to post a link to the BBC's coverage of Scaffel Pike's deplorable environmental conditions. 

Click here to learn more about Oscar Santillan's To Break a Silence into Smaller Silences


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