Olafur Eliasson’s installation takes over England’s Coast


Olafur Eliasson’s new colossal artwork invites viewers to self-discovery, engaging them in an enchanting play with light, reflection, and space perception. As part of a larger art programme for Copeland named ‘Deep Time: Commissions for the Lake District Coast,’ this massive installation is made by the danish-Icelandic artist in collaboration with the British writer Robert Macfarlane. Stretching thirty meters along England’s Northwest Coastline, it will mark Eliasson’s first permanent outdoor artwork in the UK.


This new landmark will feature an extensive steel basin as well as an observing platform that accommodates a series of rings mounted on stands. Provisionally named ‘Your daylight destination’, the artistic intervention will humbly echo the charm of the surrounding scenery, reflecting the tides, sun, moon, and sky. 

olafur eliasson’s colossal installation resonates with cumbrian coastline in england
artistic renderings of the artwork by Olafur Eliasson with Robert Macfarlane. Courtesy of SOE



a ‘borrowed’ view of the sky in the sand


After several exploratory visits, Olafur Eliasson and novelist Robert Macfarlane ended up in a design where nature and architecture seamlessly collaborated. The scheme employs the beach as a stage for this expansive artwork utilizing the daily tides, seawater, and light. The project sees the creation of an elliptical steel pool extending into the mud flats and being visible depending on the weather. When the tide is high, the pool is concealed within the sea, while when low, the basin acts as a shimmering mirror, and thus spectators can catch scenic reflections of the sun, moon, and sky in all its forms. 


Along with the elliptic pool, a viewing platform will provide visitors with stunning views. Standing on the structure,

observers can see the pool framed by the rings as a perfect circle. The pattern of aligned rings around the circle was inspired by prehistoric rock art presented around Cumbria, known as the ‘cup and ring’. Nods to these rock formations connect present-day visitors to ancestors who lived in this region thousands of years ago. ‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to realize this contemplative artwork for Copeland. In a sense it is a humble reflection of what is already there – the beach, the water, the sky, the plants and animals – reframed within a space that invites self-discovery in a deep-time perspective,’ shared the artist.

olafur eliasson’s colossal installation resonates with cumbrian coastline in england
the artworks may, at first glance, appear unrelated, but they generate a profound connection


‘Sand, wave, tide, light, space and time: Olafur and I set out to use simple but vital elements as we imagined this artwork together. The cup-and-ring motif binds our installation to the ancient human pasts of the Cumbrian landscape, even as the individual experience of the artwork, we hope, brims with the brightness of the present moment. Collaborating with Olafur and his team on this project has been a mind-bending pleasure.
Having spent eight years writing Underland — a book exploring human and geological ‘deep time’ — I’ve hugely enjoyed applying some of this thinking to the creation of our artwork, especially in the context of a landscape and region that I’ve known for four decades now,’ added Robert.

olafur eliasson’s colossal installation resonates with cumbrian coastline in england
twice a day, at high tide, the pool will be submerged entirely


‘Deep Time: Commissions for the Lake District Coast’ is a new public art programme developed for the West Cumbria coastline in the North West of England. Launching in Summer 2023, it is focused on a 60km stretch of coastline in the borough of Copeland, part of which is within the UNESCO Lake District World Heritage Site.

olafur eliasson’s colossal installation resonates with cumbrian coastline in englandolafur eliasson’s colossal installation resonates with cumbrian coastline in england 

portrait of Robert Macfarlane ©Bryan Appleyard
portrait of Robert Macfarlane ©Bryan Appleyard

project info:


provisionally named: Your daylight destination

as part of Deep Time: Commissions for the Lake District Coast | @deeptimeuk

artists: Olafur Eliasson | @studioolafureliasson , in collaboration with author Robert Macfarlane

location: West Cumbria coastline in North West of England