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Float above Yorkshire’s ‘sunken city of Semer’

This weekend a prized ancient spear will be recreated as a 50-metre-long pontoon and floated on Lake Semerwater in Yorkshire, north England. Spear (2016), by the London-based artist David Murphy, was inspired by the bronze-age artefact found at the lake’s edge in the 1930s, as well as by the legend of the sunken city of Semer. “It’s a kind of Atlantis myth”, Murphys says. “A beggar curses the city with a deluge after being turned away from every home. The only structure that survives this watery end is a hovel belonging to a poor couple who shared their ale and oatcakes with him.”

Murphy’s floating pavilion has been commissioned by the Dales Countryside Museum, where the bronze-age spear is on show, and will be in place this weekend only (28-30 October) for a series of events as part of the Museums at Night Festival. Visitors will be able to enter the head of the spear made of galvanised steel and copper rings, riveted into a chain-mail pattern, which gently filter the view, Murphy says. The installation is “really only half the form, the rest is reflected in the water [to create the appearance of the full spear]”. And with visitors being out on the lake, Murphy also wants to create speculation “as to what may—or may not—lie beneath”.