Lottery spends £15,000 on a hole in the ground

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The Independent Online

Visitors to one of Britain's best-known beauty spots have been astonished to encounter a large, wet hole in the ground, excavated with the help of £15,000 of National Lottery funding, to enable them to examine the roots of a living tree.

Visitors to one of Britain's best-known beauty spots have been astonished to encounter a large, wet hole in the ground, excavated with the help of £15,000 of National Lottery funding, to enable them to examine the roots of a living tree.

Their surprise has been compounded by the fact that the timber-lined 2.5-metre deep tunnel, which is open for less than a month, is being hailed as a major work of art.

Hundreds of walkers have so far stumbled upon the discreetly sited hole near the village of Brockenhurst in the heart of the New Forest.

Described as a piece of "site-specific installation art", the tunnel is the brainchild of the Macedonian-born sculptor Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva, who has received the money for the project from the Arts Council as part of the millennium Year of the Artist programme.

"The idea is for people to go down the hole and look at the roots of the tree," said 29-year-old Hadzi-Vasileva as she emerged from the tunnel yesterday. "I am trying to provide an opportunity for people to look at nature from a different perspective."

It has been dug in the sandy soil beneath a 25-metre high western hemlock conifer with permission from the Forestry Commission.

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