Artists are Taking the Lead at the 2012 Olympics


Image from Nowhere Island

The summer Olympics are being held in the London area in 2012 and all kinds of community events are being planned. Artists Taking the Lead is a project whereby 12 winning artists will be awarded up to £500,000 to create 12 new works of art across the country.

The short list reveals a fascinating cross-section of ideas and concepts which reflect artists' views of their community. AlexHartley's idea is to drag an island that he discovered in the High Arctic in 2004 to the South-West coast of England. He was the first human to ever stand on it and thus he named the island Nymark, Norwegian for 'new land'.


Hartley was a participant on a recent Cape Farewell journey where he found the island within the melting ice of a retreating glacier,. The island will be loaded onto a cargo barge and brought to the South-West of England. It will be declared a new country and during the Olympics the "nowhere" island will visit every navigable harbour, port and estuary in the South-West.

If that wasn't enough, new inhabitants will be sought to live on the island and will be issued a passport. Proposals for a government will be developed. Architectural competitions will be held to design housing for the island. After the Olympics, the travelling island will be returned to its original site in the Arctic.

the nest. photo

Image from Artists Take the Lead

From Northern Ireland comes The Nest: a huge installation made from discarded objects donated by people from all over Northern Ireland. Each item would have a tag telling its story and they would all be assembled to form an interactive installation along with a performance involving all parts of the community.


In the London area, artist Martin Creed is proposing that every Londoner ring any bell they can find from bicycle bells to church bells as quickly and loudly as possible for three minutes. He also wants to design a new Olympic bell, which can be sounded at the medal ceremonies during 2012 and will be replicated for future Games. The bell would be cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, a bell foundry from 1570, famous for casting The Liberty Bell and Big Ben.

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