Nowhere Island is a New Nation on a Newly Discovered Island, Just for the Olympics

© Max McClure

London's 2012 Olympics have an artistic component and Nowhere Island has to be the most cerebral of all the projects.

Nowhereisland is an island which will be towed 500 miles from the high Arctic to the south coast of England. It was discovered by Alex Hartley, a British artist, when he visited there with the Cape Farewell project in 2004. The island had been revealed due to the melting ice of a retreating glacier. He was the first person to ever stand on it.

Hartley has created a floating sculpture/island out of the stones and earth and matter collected from the island.

© Max McClure

How does this work?

In September, aboard the good ship Noorderlicht, an expedition consisting of a team of young people and specialists in international law, environmental and political campaigning, human migration, anthropology and psychology went back to the island. With the permission of the Norwegian government, they removed material from the island territory, sailing it into international waters, where it was declared a new nation before travelling south to England.

With the help of the Norwegian Polar Institute, this new land was registered on all subsequent maps and charts and it was declared to be a new nation: Nowhereisland.

© Max McClure

The island measures 40 by 8 metres and will arrive in Weymouth, UK in time for the opening of the sailing competitions of the Olympics on July 25, 2012. It is being constructed in the UK so that it can withstand the winds. Everything that you see when viewing the island will have come from the Arctic.

The new country will travel around the coast of England for six weeks, hitting 6 port towns and cities. It will end up in Bristol on September 8, 2012 for the final weekend of the Paralympic Games.

© Max McClure

Who can Join?

Nowhereisland now has 4,640 citizens (you can become one) and its own constitution which is being developed. It "seeks to redefine what a nation can be. Nowhereisland embodies the global potential of a new borderless nation, which offers citizenship to all; a space in which all are welcome and in which all have the right to be heard. Nowhereisland’s constitution is and will be cumulative and consensual, open to all citizens and subject to change during the nation’s lifetime."

Through this project the artist is trying to create a forum for thinking about our values and beliefs as citizens. The question Hartley is trying to make people think about is "If we were to create a new nation, how might we begin?"

© Max McClure

A year-long programme of debates, discussions and activities is already taking place. Every week an eminent thinker is contributing a ‘Letters to Nowhereisland’ online. These Thinkers are drawn from different fields: environmentalism, peace, broadcasting, comedy. They include people such as Tim Smit (Eden Project), Vidal Sassoon, Yoko Ono, and Tania Kovats.

Tags: A Picture Is Worth | Architecture | Artists | Arts | Olympics

Best of TreeHugger 2014

WHAT'S HOT ON FACEBOOK