Lie Back and Think of Nature – Artists Create Wilderness Sensory Benches
Ecological arts project by Dalziel + Scullion in Dumfries and Galloway’s Dark Skies Park combats Nature Deficit Disorder
Leading environmental artists have created 30 sculptural sensory benches in the wilds of Dumfries and Galloway where people can lie back, relax and reconnect with the natural world.
The Rosnes Benches, a groundbreaking ecological art project by Dundee-based Matthew Dalziel and Louise Scullion, allow people to tune into the natural world. They aim to combat Nature Deficit Disorder – the idea that modern lifestyles harm health and wellbeing because people lose their connection to nature.
They are clustered in small groups in 12 locations around Dumfries and Galloway’s Dark Skies Park and UNESCO Biosphere. The sites have been specially chosen to trigger people’s sense – perhaps through the sound of nearby water, views of huge day and nighttime skyscapes, or the noise of the wind through the trees and grasses.
On a clear night, people lying on the sensory benches will be able to see up to 7,000 stars and planets and the great arc of the Milky Way.
The official launch of the Rosnes Benches is at noon on Friday, 2 May, at Glentrool Visitor Centre, when the artists will lead a walk into the woodlands and give visitors the chance to enjoy the sensory benches for themselves.
Matthew said: “We are very much looking forward to Friday’s launch. There’s a real problem that people are becoming detached from the natural world and we are trying to find ways to help them reconnect with the environment.
“The Rosnes Benches have a profound effect on people when they try them. That’s because when you lie down, you slow down and engage your senses in a different way. You become aware of things like the breeze, the sky, the scents from plants and the sounds around you.”
Louise and Matthew worked with a team of artists to deliver the project including Kenny Hunter and Kenny Mackay from Glasgow and locally-based land artist Jim Buchanan.
The project has been produced by Wide Open, a public and environmental art organisation for south west Scotland. It is supported by Creative Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Dumfries and Galloway Council, the Galloway Leader Programme and Forestry Commission Scotland.
Jan Hogarth, Director of Wide Open, said: “It’s a rare pleasure to lie back and in beautiful countryside and tune into nature’s sights and sounds. The Rosnes Benches let you do that.
“So many people are disconnected from nature. In cities they are surrounded by concrete and have tarmac underfoot and the stars are blotted out by streetlights.
“The benches and the Dark Skies Park offer an escape into nature and a way to enhance people’s health and wellbeing. They put people back in wild spaces, surrounded by natural beauty and allow them to breathe fresh, clean air and to enjoy the magnificence of our landscape.
“We hope people will make a special pilgrimage to Galloway to have the Rosnes bench experience.”
The benches recall the mysterious ancient cup and ring marked stones, and recumbent stones, which stand in many beautiful parts of the Scottish landscape. They are also comfortable, weatherproof and durable.
They are located on hillsides, in woodlands, near lochs and rivers across around New Galloway, Newton Stewart and Gatehouse of Fleet. All are within the Galloway Forest Park and the Dark Skies Park, which is the only one of its kind in the UK and covers 300 square miles of largely uninhabited land. This means the night skies are almost free of light pollution – making it highly unusual.
Keith Muir, Head of Tourism, Galloway Forest Park, said: “Galloway Forest Park is one of the best places in Scotland to experience the great outdoors and the new benches will enhance that experience.
“Visitors will be able to get closer to nature and tune in to the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere from a completely different perspective. In particular, they will offer a fantastic view of the night sky and the thousands of stars visible from the park.
“We’re all so busy with our lives and modern technology that we forget to stop and take in our natural surroundings. Encouraging people to enjoy the great outdoors is at the heart of what we do at Galloway Forest Park and we hope the benches will help people to slow down and truly appreciate nature.”
Here is a wee DGWGO Article all about when RB Visited his first Rosnes benches earlier this year http://www.dgwgo.com/news/r-b-photography/r-b-bags-first-rosnes-benches/
● Take a journey of discovery and find out more about the Rosnes Benches project on www.rosnesbench.com