Innovative arts project lands at Winchester Science Centre

A new feature will appear on the landscape at Morn Hill on 30 January, brightening the dull winter days ahead.

The Observatory is the latest brainchild of the Hampshire-based organisation SPUD (Space, Placemaking and Urban Design). A temporary artist’s studio, it has itself been designed and built by architects, artists and engineers, and will spend six months in the grounds of Winchester Science Centre looking out over the beautiful South Downs National Park.

But visitors will also be able to look in, see the artists at work, talk to them and enjoy being part of the creative process. Following an open competition, three artists will take up residencies while The Observatory is based at Morn Hill until June this year, before the structure moves on to its next location on the Sea Wall at Lymington.

Mark Drury of SPUD said: “The Observatory is an architectural installation, a sculptural intervention, a meeting space, a shelter, a look-out and a space in which each artist can work for up to eight weeks. The three artists who have been selected for residencies in Winchester are Isabella Martin, Sean Harris and Simon Ryder.”

Isabella Martin is a sculptor whose work uses language as a means of navigation. She is a member of the international collective Camp Little Hope and an associate artist at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich and Kettles Yard, Cambridge. Isabella collaborates across disciplines and contexts. Find out more about her work at

Sean Harris is a visual artist and film-maker. He leads the Wild Boar Press, a group of artists working in animation, music, story-telling, print-making, poetry, installation, sculpture – and sometimes performances that involve the whole lot. Find out about Wild Boar Press here:

Simon Ryder is an artist working in the public realm. Find out about Simon’s previous projects here:

Cllr Robert Humby, Leader of Winchester City Council, said:
“The Council has been pleased to support this project from the outset, and I went to the Science Centre to meet the architects and artists who were considering putting in their proposals for The Observatory. I think this project will help us to look at the landscape with new eyes – and maybe to understand a little more about the process of making art.

“Our financial and practical support for The Observatory recognises the significance of the project in delivering Winchester’s cultural strategy, Culture, Innovation and the Winchester Economy, which we published last year. We want to see the District at the forefront of innovative projects like this – making waves in national media, but in a way that also enhances our local environment and the day-to-day experiences of local people.”

Council officers brought the original project partners together by suggesting the location, which has been enthusiastically supported by the South Downs National Park Authority and by the staff of the Science Centre. The Council also hosted the shortlisted designs for The Observatory at a special exhibition in Guildhall Winchester last March.

Verena Cornwall, Director of Winchester Science Centre, added:
“Winchester Science Centre continues to develop its appeal for a wide market of residents and visitors. I am delighted to be able to include this wonderful public art project as part of our wider offer, and feel honoured that the Science Centre will be the first location where The Observatory can be visited in the UK.”

A comprehensive learning and engagement programme will run alongside The Observatory residencies. This will include school and community workshops, talks and outreach work with universities, community and special interest groups. More information can be found at

The award-winning Holiday Inn at Morn Hill is also supporting the Observatory project by providing accommodation for the first artist.