Artist accused of vandalism after taking top inch of England's tallest mountain

Tourism official says: 'We want the top of our mountain back'

Artist accused of vandalism after taking top inch of England's tallest mountain

An artist has been accused of vandalism after taking the very pinnacle of England's highest mountain for an exhibition in London.

Oscar Santillan, 34, a visual artist from Ecuador, removed the top inch of the 3,209ft summit of Scafell Pike, in the Lake District (documented in the above picture) and it's now on display at the Copperfield Gallery in London.

Santillan has placed it on a plinth to create the piece called The Intruder, for his 'Oscar Santillan: To Break a Silence into Smaller Silences' exhibition.

He said removing the stone was "a small suggestive gesture that reflects on the way in which humans have imposed their cultural categories over nature; the tallest, the largest, and all kinds of measurements."

According to the Mirror, Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, blasted the move and said: "This is taking the mickey and we want the top of our mountain back."

But Oscar said: "No damage, vandalism, chiseling, or inappropriate behaviour towards nature took place in the making of this work.

"I do empathise with those who are truly concerned with the conservation of the British mountains. Hopefully this controversy becomes an opportunity to bring attention to these important concerns, rather than debating about a one-inch rock."

And the owner of the gallery said he has received dozens of abusive emails, calling him names, and even threatening to burn down the gallery.

According to the Evening Standard, one email called Oscar a "massive t**t", but another was more supportive, writing: "As a native Cumbrian I know Scafell Pike [is] strewn with loose rock. I'm sure that Oscar was more respectful of the fell top than many [...] who regularly mistreat the area by leaving litter and using it as a toilet."

A sentiment that Oscar echoed, saying: "I am very respectful of nature and was deeply sad to see people leave so much of their trash behind which I did my best to collect on my way down."

The piece is on display at the Southwark-based gallery from 26 March to 9 May 2015.

The gallery writes: "We are pleased to present the first UK solo exhibition of Ecuadorian artist Oscar Santillan (b.1980).

"Despite touching on culturally potent subjects from philosophy to national pride, the exhibition ultimately draws out the obscure. Unexpected events occur: the dance of a dead philosopher is unveiled, a piece of land is stolen.

"The Intruder presents an inch of stone removed from the English landscape. At a glance it is seemingly insignificant and yet the material is carefully presented.

"Scaling the 3028ft of Scafell Pike in the Lake District, the artist has stolen the uppermost inch of the highest mountain in England. An entire nation's height is modified and its landscape redefined by means of a single careful action."

The summit was donated to the National Trust in 1919 by Lord Leconfield in memory of the men of the Lake District who died during World War One.

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