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Fossil Ocean Floor

Fossil Ocean Floor

By Jonathan Parsons

This site-specific intervention in the chalk landscape of the northern Surrey Hills was part of the Surrey Unearthed programme in 2018. The work used the colour white, inspired by ancient chalk hill figures and was visible from a far distance. This monumental text piece was designed to align in the landscape, with letters composed of a matrix of bright discs on farmland adjacent to the railway line that runs from Dorking to Guildford.

The chalk of the Surrey Hills was laid down in a tropical seabed roughly 90 million years ago. It is composed of disc-shaped skeletal remains of phytoplankton called coccoliths. They fell as microscopic snow to the ocean floor over millions of years forming layers of silt kilometres thick. This gradually compressed into pure white calcite limestone: the chalk we see today.

Fossil Ocean Floor was a monumental installation on Milton Court Farm adjacent to the Great Western Railway near Dorking. This was one in a series of interventions proposed by Jonathan Parsons including Scribble Field, projected text in the landscape and Blue a dot matrix piece to be sited by the chalk scrapes created by Butterfly Conservation.

With thanks for additional support from:

Jonathan Parsons

Jonathan Parsons was selected for the British Art Show 5 (2000) and was one of the youngest artists to be included in the notorious Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (1997), which toured to Berlin and New York. He co-curated Seeing Round Corners for Turner Contemporary, Margate (2016) and was the artistic lead for the 2015 Flag Project for the UK Parliament. Recent solo exhibitions include: Scribbles, Diagrams + Combines, Hardwick Gallery, Cheltenham (2017) and New Paintings, New Art Projects, London (2014). Recent group exhibitions include: Collateral Drawing 5, Strange Cargo, Folkestone (2017), Abstract Remix, New Art Projects, London (2017), The Order of Things, The Wilson, Cheltenham (2017), Mechanical Abstract, Turps Gallery, London (2016) and Geographies, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan (2015).