Thursday, 16 August 2012


Alex Hartley searched for and discovered Nyskjaeret in 2004. The island had been revealed by the melting ice of a retreating glacier. Alex was the first person to set foot on the island. It's about the size of a football pitch. Alex built a cairn at the centre of the island with the date of his discovery inside a tin can. In 2006 the Norwegian  Polar Institute agreed to recognise the island and to name it and include it on all subsequent maps. On the 2011 expedition, Alex replaced this can with a signed note by the expedition team marking their visit, along with a letter written by an eight-year old from Bristol.
Nyskjaeret                                                       Photo:Max Mclure

This became Nowhereisland, an island from the Arctic on a journey around the coast of South West England. As it started this epic journey, it travelled through international waters, whereupon it became the world's newest nation - Nowhereisland - with citizenship open to all.
The Embassy                                              Photo:Max Mclure

On it's visit to Torquay I went to see Nowhereisland and visited it's embassy (which was in the harbour) and became one of the citizens with a certificate to prove it!
What fascinates me  are the multiple layers which comprise this artwork. Nowhereisland is durational (it unfolds over time); it is nomadic (it moves across locations, accruing different meanings in different contexts); it is physical matter (it is a sculpture comprising material from the Arctic and a collection of objects, documents, photographs and films in the Embassy); it is an intervention (a geological displacement of material, a landscape moving around another landscape); it is the words and images of others (speaking back to the project through the Resident Thinkers programme and Constitution) and it is a utopian idea (a conceptual nation involving thousands of people across the world shaping that nation's values and principles online).

 It's got something for everyone, after our visit to the embassy even my five year old was questioning the meaning of freedom!

I recommend you visit the online embassy to explore more about it all.

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