‘Sea Oak’ sculpture by artist Paul Morrison to be unveiled in North Yorkshire as part of Wild Eye

Posted on 13.02.2024

16th March: public talk by Professor Juliet Brodie, National History Museum Seaweed Specialist 

  • Seaweed-inspired sculpture will launch as part of the Wild Eye art and nature sculpture trail, celebrating the extraordinary wildlife and marine life found on the North Yorkshire Coast.
  • Paul Morrison’s work will join existing artworks by leading artists Ryan Gander and Juneau Projects with further Wild Eye commissions planned from Jeremy Deller, Emma Smith, and Shezad Dawood & Daisy Hildyard.

Invisible Dust and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are excited to announce that this March, a new public sculpture by internationally-renowned artist Paul Morrison will be unveiled in North Yorkshire as part of the Wild Eye coastal art and nature trail.

Made from water-jet cut stainless steel, the newly-commissioned work, entitled Sea Oak, will be installed in Scarborough Harbour, overlooking the North Sea. Created in the shape of Fucus Vesiculosus or Bladderwrack – an ecologically-important seaweed species common to the UK – the highly-polished structure will reflect both the viewer and the ever-changing coastal conditions, celebrating the important role that seaweed plays in contributing to the health of the ocean, whilst inviting audiences to reflect on their own interconnection with the natural world. Bladderwrack (commonly known as ‘Sea Oak’) seaweed has been chosen due to its rich history of therapeutic use in various cultures, also playing a crucial role in the food chain for marine organisms.

Paul Morrison has been commissioned as part of Wild Eye, an ambitious art-nature project by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and art-science organisation Invisible Dust. The project engages with leading artists to create new works that celebrate North Yorkshire’s amazing wildlife and marine life, while raising awareness of the need to protect both against pollution and climate change. Sea Oak will connect with existing sculptures by Ryan Gander and Juneau Projects at Scarborough Castle and Whitby Harbour, with further artworks from artists Jeremy Deller,  Emma Smith and Shezad Dawood & Daisy Hildyard set to complete the art trail by 2025.

Artist Paul Morrison said: ”I’m delighted to have been able to create a sculpture for Scarborough Harbour. It’s such an amazing location, where the artwork can reflect the changing conditions of the sea and sky. I knew about the medicinal properties of seaweed and its importance as a habitat for marine life. What I hadn’t realised is just how effective seaweed is as a store for carbon and that it absorbs CO2 more efficiently than trees. The piece will inevitably mean different things to each viewer depending on the person’s experience, memories and associations but I’d be very pleased if one of the things it does is to provide an opportunity for people to pause and consider our interdependence with nature.”

Rachael Bice, Chief Executive Officer, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “‘Sea Oak’ brings to the surface the beauty and importance of seaweed to our precious marine environment. Seaweed plays a vital role in creating dynamic underwater habitats for a wide range of species. It also can help us tackle climate change due to its fast growth, power to oxygenate seawater and absorb carbon.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to be collaborating with Invisible Dust and the local community on ‘Wild Eye’ to bring this new sculpture to Scarborough Harbour, as a world class example of how the arts can engage new audiences with nature.”

Alice Sharp, Artistic Director, Invisible Dust said: “I am really looking forward to seeing Paul Morrison’s beautiful reflective bladderwrack sculpture in front of one of Scarborough’s famous sunsets. Art makes us look at something we might view as everyday such as seaweed in a new way. Wild Eye sculptures are forming a trail to celebrate our incredible coastal nature, encouraging local people and visitors to understand more about and wish to protect our natural world.” 

Professor Juliet Brodie, Merit Researcher, Natural History Museum, who advised the artist said:Seaweeds are vital for the functioning of marine ecosystems and they have played an important part in human life, our activities and our food for as long as we have been around. But how often do you encounter a seaweed in the form of a sculpture? Hopefully people will see it and perhaps it will make them think a bit, perhaps to start to think about these remarkable organisms in a different way.”

Paul Morrison’s Sea Oak was selected by a local community advisory group in Scarborough. Wild Eye is funded by the Towns Fund drawn from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities administered through North Yorkshire Council. The project aims to support long‐term sustainable economic growth for Scarborough’s nature-culture tourism market, while supporting reconnection with the environment.

For further information, imagery or interview requests, please contact Sophie Stott at Margaret on sophiestott@margaretlondon.com

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