Strong enough to walk across, PaperBridge was designed and assembled by artist Steve Messam in Grisedale Valley in Patterdale, Cumbria, England. On site from May 8 to 18, 2015, the Lake District bridge comprised 22,000 sheets of vibrant red paper that snugly formed an arch weighing just under five tons. Framed by two piles of found stones, the arch relied on compression alone for its strength, drawing the local approach to drystone wall and bridge building. The artist sourced environmentally-friendly paper from James Cropper at the local Burneside Mill, where it was returned and recycled into new paper following the close of the installation. Stunning trails marked by signposts led viewers to the work, which was set at the top of scenic Grisedale Valley and accessible only by foot. The remote setting was intentional, requiring the audience to experience the beauty of the environment. Environmental work, the artist told Wired, is “not like a painting where you’re just looking at the surface of how it looks. It’s about exploring the landscape.”

Megan Guerber is a freelance arts writer and American Craft‘s assistant editor.

From Public Art Review #54, where this article originally appeared as “A Hyper Local Bridge.”