Tag Archives: Cultural Olympiad



You might like to review my 2 previous WordPress blogs on this subject before you enjoy this post – expecially the video!: “Nowhereisland …Just In Time For The Olympics (Part 1)”, published Feb. 27/12; and “Nowhereisland (Part 2) – About The Project”, published Mar. 5/12.  Thank you.

The creative idea itself is actually rather captivating: find an Arctic island that has recently been exposed by melting ice and then break off some rocks to form a new “island nation” which can then be transported to the waters off the UK in time for the 2012 Olympics. During its conception, Hartley billed it as a “travelling embassy” intended to highlight issues such as climate change and land ownership. Here’s how Alex Hartley’s website explains it:

In 2004, artist Alex Hartley discovered an island in the High Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, whilst on the Cape Farewell expedition. The island revealed itself from within the melting ice of a retreating glacier and Alex was the first human to ever stand on it and with the help of the Norwegian Polar Institute, the island, named Nyskjaeret, is now officially recognised and included on all maps and charts subsequent to its discovery. In September 2011, Alex returns to the Arctic to retrieve the island territory. Once in international waters, Alex will declare Nowhereisland a new nation.

Nowhereisland is one of 12 “Artist Taking the Lead” projects commissioned for the Culture Olympiad next year.

…The Guardian Environment Blog, Sept. 22, 2011

An Arctic island travels south. Nowhereisland will arrive off the coast of Weymouth for the opening of the Olympic sailing events and, hosted as a visiting island nation, the island will make a 500-mile journey around the south-west coast. An art project by Alex Hartley, produced by Situations at the University of the West of England.

Link to Video –


A short film about Nowhereisland

This has footage from the 2011 Arctic expedition and you’ll hear from Alex Hartley and Claire Doherty, Director of Situations, who are the producers of Nowhereisland.


Nowhereisland is a public art project conceived by artist Alex Hartley.

It is one of 12 arts projects across the UK, funded by the Arts Council of England, which will form part of the Cultural Olympiad in summer 2012.

Imagine an Arctic island travelling south – a landscape on the move. After leaving the Kingdom of Norway, the island enters international waters and is declared a new island nation – Nowhereisland. This new nation continues its journey to the south west coast of England, where it opens its embassy and participates in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

This is the idea of Alex Hartley, an artist known for his photographic and sculptural depictions of remote landscapes. Alex’s proposal, made for the Cultural Olympiad, is on an epic scale and reflects the ambition and endeavor of the Olympic spirit.


Furzy Cliff in Weymouth is the site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events. On the 25th July 2012  Nowhereisland will be floating off-shore, accompanied by its land based Embassy and where it will begin a six-week journey around the south west coast of England, finishing in Bristol on the 9th September 2012.

This idea began back in 2004, when, Alex visited the High Arctic with the climate change organization, Cape Farewell. The artist explored the northernmost polar landmass – a landscape shaped by the rapidly receding ice cap and marked by a human history of prospecting and exploration. Here explorers have attempted extraordinary feats of endurance and many have failed. This is a place over which nations have fiercely debated their territorial and mining rights and an area to which migrants have flocked in search of a place to belong. And it is here that Alex Hartley discovered a new island.

In the autumn of 2011, he returned to the Arctic and with the permission of the Norwegian government, sailed a portion of this island territory north beyond the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Norway.

Just above the 80th parallel, the territory reached international waters, where it was declared a new island nation – Nowhereisland. Joining Alex on the expedition were a team of young people and specialists in international law, environmental and political campaigning, human migration, anthropology and psychology, who worked together to produce a programme of ideas and resources to be used in the year-long schools and education programme

Nowhereisland has already come to represent the possibilities for thinking about our values and beliefs as citizens. 52 Resident Thinkers from around the world are contributing to a year-long programme of Letters to Nowhereisland. Over 4000 people have already signed up to become citizens of Nowhereisland and will begin collectively writing the island’s constitution from January 2012.

This is a real place on the move. But it belongs to nowhere. It is an island nation that has come from a place that is deeply implicated by global decisions. It offers us the chance to reflect on where we belong and what nationhood means, and, in a time of global crisis, it opens up an opportunity to debate and consider important global questions that affect us all.

Above all, it allows us to reflect on Alex Hartley’s original question – if we were to create a new nation, how might we begin?

The Nowhereisland programme is already in full swing. We are working with 20 community organisations in seven towns and cities across south west England to shape the host programme of events and activities set to reach 250,000 people. Schools are using Nowhereisland as a catalyst for teaching on citizenship, geography and politics over the next 12 months and 52 thinkers across the globe are sitting down to compose their Letters to Nowhereisland.

The Nowhereisland Embassy will exist in two forms – online and as a mobile museum accompanying Nowhereisland’s sea journey on land. The Embassy will be packed full of information and activities about the many different ideas inspired by the project from the origins of the island in the Arctic, to nationhood, citizenship, land grab, cllimate change and hospitality. The mobile museum will be staffed and parked up at a vantage point for Nowhereisland so that anyone can find out more, ask questions and get involved in activities. It will also be the site for events such as welcome ceremonies, expert talks and workshops.

For more information, on the project, check out the FAQs: