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Outside Oxford: Rabbits 'Intrude' on Hamilton sculpture park

The bunnies dot the grassy lawn atop Pyramid Hill. Some lean back, relaxed, their droopy ears flopping on the ground. Others stand tall on their hind legs, reaching up with their curious noses, sniffing the leaves of the trees. The park is their playground, and they can be spotted across the hill, exploring, enjoying the calm and misty environment.

These bunnies aren't small and furry, however. They're massive, inflated, and illuminated. They're also part of one of the most highly acclaimed public art installations in the world.

"Intrude" is a spectacle-sized work consisting of five inflatable rabbits that are illuminated when the sun goes down. From October 6-15, the installation will be on display at Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park in Hamilton.

In artist Amanda Parer's native Australia, rabbits are considered a serious environmental and agricultural pest. First brought to the continent by European settlers in the late 18th century, rabbits' overgrazing has led to the extinction of native plant species and, by acting as competition for food and shelter, rabbits have put already endangered Australian species at risk.

Despite efforts to reduce their populations, rabbits still cause an estimated agricultural loss of $200 million every year.

But, despite that detriment they cause, bunnies are cute. The artist knows it, too.

The intention, according to Parer's website, is to evoke the "furry innocence" of the critters of childhood fairytales and fables. The cuteness should lure the viewer into the artwork, but reveal a larger message.

Their size -- the largest stands at over 23 feet tall -- is also a nod to the "elephant in the room," in this case, environmental impact.

Admittedly, without that background knowledge, it's unlikely that viewers of "Intrude" will be inspired to go save the environment -- or even be aware of the display's deeper meaning. But the exhibit does guarantee a bit of dazzle and, when the rabbits glow in the night, they have an Alice-in-Wonderland-like quality, like we've just taken a bite of one of those magical mushrooms and found ourselves shrunken down while the bunnies tower above us.

You can view "Intrude" daily, from noon to 10 p.m. until Oct. 15, weather permitting. (The bunnies can't withstand rain or thunderstorms.) General admission after 7 p.m. is $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 12 and $5 for members. Sure, it's a little cheaper to view "Intrude" during the day, but you'll miss the display's impact if you don't see it illuminated.

In conjunction with the display, Pyramid Hill is hosting a "Hoppy Hour" from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, Oct. 10, featuring craft beer and soul music spun by DJ Grover Smith of the Queen City Soul Club. Gina Scarnati, creator of the hats in the first "Hunger Games" film, is hosting hat-making workshops at the park. All workshop participants get free admission to this Friday's "Mad Hatter Tea Party," which fully leans into the display's "Alice in Wonderland" appeal, with themed snacks, spiked tea and croquet.

One of the rabbits will also be traveling to downtown Cincinnati for "BLINK," a four-day light and art festival kicking off this Thursday.