In this week's blog, Jerwood Gallery Steward and writer, Aruna Vasudevan, talks about Jerwood Gallery's stephen turner: everything comes from the egg. 

" /> In this week's blog, Jerwood Gallery Steward and writer, Aruna Vasudevan, talks about Jerwood Gallery's stephen turner: everything comes from the egg. 

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Everything comes from the Egg: Stephen Turner’s vision

Everything living comes from either a seed or an egg and it is such an archetypal form that I felt people would connect with it’, says artist Stephen Turner, commenting on the Exbury Egg, the ovoid-shaped wooden vessel that has been his home, studio and workspace for the last few years while he’s navigated his way along Britain’s highways, byways and waterways. After a somewhat epic journey, the Egg has, rather fittingly, finally come to rest by the sea, outside the Jerwood Gallery.


The Egg was inspired by 17th-century scientist William Harvey’s ex ovo omnia (everything [comes] from the egg), says Turner, whose work often challenges the relationship between natural and human-constructed environments:


From primate to plankton, [the egg] embodies the idea of new birth and renewal, protection and fragility. In an urban 21st-century world, where we are increasingly disconnected from nature, this ancient archetypal symbol will nurture re-enchantment and understanding as a step toward a truly sustainable future.’


It’s a fabulous piece to have here,’ comments Kate Giles, Jerwood Gallery’s Head of External Communications – especially so since the gallery was designed to be a green space, with 60 percent less CO2 emissions than other similarly sized buildings.


The Egg itself is a modern phenomenon. The result of a collaboration between SPUD (Space Placemaking and Urban Design), project architects PAD Studio, master boatbuilder Paul Baker and naval architect Stephen Payne, it interprets centuries-old boatbuilding techniques in a truly innovative manner. The c. 6m by 3.6m low-impact live–work space utilises materials gathered within a 20-mile radius of the Exbury shoreline, an area of historic salt marshes. Recycled strips of cedar cover circular plywood ribs that are held together by stringers made from local Douglas Fir, and a layer of fiberglass and epoxy ensures that the structure is watertight, something that is essential as the Egg is registered as a boat.


The exterior is now sunbleached from exposure to the elements and is marked by the wind and tides, making it, in Turner’s words, a ‘natural calendar of the seasons – a contemporary book of hours’. The interior is an adaptable live–work space and has provided the artist with the opportunity to explore nature and the changing environments around him.

© Jerwood Gallery







The Egg itself is its own artwork’, he says. ‘The walls are full of all the different things I collected and started to make whilst I lived [t]here.’

Jerwood Gallery visitors can view some of the pieces both in situ, inside the Exbury Egg at limited opening times, and also in Gallery 2, which houses a complementary exhibition. ‘In this way, both the Egg and the exhibition become intimately connected elements in a time-based happening, integrating outside with inside in a creative archive that reduces the distance between people and nature,’ Turner comments.


The gallery exhibition presents four years of 2D and 3D work ­– from intricate miniature ‘Egglets’ made up of crab shells, lichen, dove feathers, blackberry seeds and western red cedar dust from the main Egg’s construction, to other found objects, such as flora and fauna shown in alcohol-filled glass jars or preserved in Exbury Egg Conserves, such as sloe gin, rosehip syrup and even oak ink, made from leaf mould extract. Incidentally, the latter has been used to create sketches of bumble bees, scarily large egg spiders (to an arachnophobe, it’s true) and fruit, also displayed on the gallery walls.

© Jerwood Gallery







In sum, the Egg is simply stunning. It’s also a fine example of the craftsmanship, artistic endeavour and collaborative process of a wide-ranging group of people, working together to make the seemingly impossible possible. And how magnificent is that?


--- A. Vasudevan, The Literary Shed (



stephen turner: everything comes from the egg.  

16 September–15 October 2017.

Jerwood Gallery, Rock-a-Nore Road,


TN34 3DW,