Future Fossil project at Oxley Park - Destination Milton Keynes
Future Fossil project at Oxley Park

Future Fossil project at Oxley Park

Launching late spring 2021, artists Something & Son and Milton Keynes Council unveil the latest addition to the town’s public art collection and most ambitious pro- ject to date, a permanent commission in Oxley Park, Milton Keynes called Future Fossil. The sculpture takes the form of a local, suburban home which has fossilised through the passage of time, decaying from the inside out, leaving behind an imprint of the Anthropocene era. Standing at 8 metres – a life-size replica of a typical home – the work prompts questions, discussion and activities, inviting us to reimagine our coexistence with nature in a time of human dominance and crucially asking, in 10,000 years what will be left behind?

In keeping with Something & Son’s past projects and in contrast to the traditionally static public sculpture, Future Fossil is active and evolving, both in the materials it is made from and in its collaboration with people. The sculpture takes the form of recycled plastics merged with eco-concrete – the materials of our age – embedded with seeds which will grow over time. The work will slowly take its form both in its adoption by nature and its use by visitors within and outside of the community, being both a stage for people to use and a space for a new ecological environment to grow.

It is activated through an ongoing public programme of local, in-person events and activities running concurrently with a series of digital events. Following a pre-opening and opening programme running from January to summer 2021, the sculpture will be handed to the local community with a Friends of the Fossil group developing the future programme.

Andy Merritt of the artist duo Something & Son said, ‘We often play around with every- day experiences and provide people with a platform in our work. For Future Fossil we’ve taken the idea of our work providing a platform quite literally – the sculpture is a stage for people to use whilst also providing space for a new ecology to grow. Most of our works have a door so we can open and shut the project – Future Fossil will be completely open for people to use and, like many of our other projects, it’s crucial for the local community to have ownership. We wanted the sculpture to start to bring people and nature closer together in a simple way: to build a house for all.’

Fiona Boundy, public art commissioner for Milton Keynes Council Culture, said, ‘We are so pleased to launch the latest addition to MK’s well-known and loved public art collection which is symbolic of the city. This latest sculpture, Future Fossil, not only builds on but challenges the conventional idea of a static sculpture, producing an artwork which brings communities together and asks crucial questions in a time when communities have been separated most.’

The Future Fossil sculpture is constructed from environmentally conscious concrete in a negative casting process fabricated off-site to reduce impact on the local area, running to a conscious build schedule taking into account impact on local nature, such as the newt season and ties in with MK’s aim of becoming the world’s greenest and most sustainable city, and the first carbon negative city by 2050.

The Future Fossil engagement programme is designed to explore ways to use the space through projects which will take place before, during and after installation, aimed at building strong foundations for an ongoing connection with Future Fossil and surrounding communities, so that it becomes an everyday place to relax, play and a place for seasonal special events.

The programme begins with a virtual discussion series, the Future Fossil Spring Talks Series (late January to late April 2021), inviting a global audience to join artists, academics, researchers, activists, architectural theorists, writers and ecologists
in exploring the ideas and themes of the project. Speakers include Caroline Till, Jan Zalasiewicz, Mama D Ujuaje, David Farrier and Dorothea Von Hantelmann and the talks are free and open to all.

Locally, Future Producers launches in February 2021, inviting people aged 16–25 to submit a proposal for a one-day event to take place at the site of the new public artwork in early autumn 2021. The event will be the culmination of a summer training programme of production mentoring and development with artists and producers. Other activities happening in spring and early summer 2021 include Walks and Talks, open conversations about the artwork whilst exploring the built and green environ-ment of Oxley Park; Time Capsules, community interventions in the construction of Future Fossil and Participatory Projects with schools and the community. More events and projects will be announced in spring 2021.

The Future Fossil website acts as an accessible resource and portal for learning more about the project and the urgent ideas which have influenced it, with downloadable Art Packs to engage audiences of all ages, and full event and activity listings for how to get involved.