IN FOUR WEEKS' TIME, Nowhereisland will arrive in Exmouth. What is it, why's it coming to our town on Saturday 4 August and Sunday 5 August, and how will Exmouth celebrate the island's arrival?
Created by Devon artist Alex Hartley, Nowhereisland is a 40 metre x 8 metre floating sculpture, roughly the size of a football pitch. Conceived in conjunction with Bristol-based art production company Situations, "the new island nation" was financed by a £500,000 grant from the Arts Council as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Nowhereisland will tour England's South West coast during August and September, visiting eight ports and harbours. Towed by tugs, the island will be anchored off-shore. And although you won't be able to reach it, you will be able to see it from the shore and visit a land-based embassy at each port of call.
Through its website, Nowhereisland now has more than 8,000 virtual citizens. The project is being used by schools as a catalyst for teaching citizenship, geography and politics. It is also prompting healthy debate about nationhood, land grab, cllimate change, local food, local sustainability and hospitality.
Coinciding with the 2012 Jurassic Coast Earth Festival, Nowhereisland begins its tour at Weymouth (25 July-2 August), arriving for the opening ceremony of the sailing events of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The island then travels on to Exmouth (4-5 August) where it will be moored off the main beach, with its embassy parked on Beach Gardens, opposite Exmouth Pavilion. The embassy - a mobile museum, created by Alex Hartley - comprises objects and documents through which the story of Nowhereisland "unfolds". Embassy staff will greet visitors, sign up citizens and run activities for all ages.It will be open on both days from 12-5pm.
Exmouth will host Nowhereisland as part of the two-day Exmouth Earth Festival, based on the lawns next to Exmouth Pavilion.The festival will feature the Travelling Pliosaur Cinema, a life-size Jurassic sea lizard, performances and films, a local food market and stalls from charities and community groups.
After Exmouth, Nowhereisland travels on to Torquay (6-7 August), Plymouth (9-12 August), Mevagissey (13-16 August), Eden Project (Embassy only, 17-18 August); Newquay (23-27 August), Ilfracombe (1-4 September) and Bristol (7-9 September). All dates are weather dependent.
Nowhereisland began in 2004, when artist Alex Hartley visited the High Arctic with the climate change organization Cape Farewell. Here he discovered a new island that revealed itself from the melting ice of a retreating glacier.
With the permission of the Governor of Svalbard, Hartley removed the top layers of sediment from the 42-metre island, sailed it into international waters where it was declared a new nation, then it was shipped back to the UK. The removed section of moraine was then installed on an enormous barge and formed into a sculpture, giving the impression of a floating island.
Although Nowhereisland will exist as a nation for just one year, it has already gathered a growing constituency of citizens, including people from nearly 100 countries, such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia, South Korea, Svalbard and Puerto Rico. The island's site asks citizens to make proposals for its constitution, and so far more that 500 propositions have been received.
To learn more about the project, go to Nowhereisland