Nowhereisland floats into Ilfracombe

Picture special: Cultural Olympiad art project welcomed to town in style.

THE enigmatic Nowhereisland floating art project hove to off Ilfracombe on Saturday for the penultimate stop on its South West coastal tour.

It was created by artist Alex Hartley for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad following an expedition to Svalbard in the Arctic to collect part of a real island and turn it into a sculpture.

Two expedition members were Ilfracombe Arts College sixth formers Lydia Maloney and Charlie Logan, who led a parade of dignitaries, entertainers, musicians and costumed characters to the pier on Saturday during the Sea Ilfracombe Festival to welcome the ‘free nation’ to the town.

There was a little drama later on Saturday when rough seas made it difficult for the accompanying tug to maintain its tow on the island, forcing it to leave Ilfracombe earlier than planned.

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It sheltered further along the coast overnight and made an unscheduled stop at Lynmouth enroute to its final destination of Bristol.

Lydia and Charlie, who left Ilfracombe College this summer, both said they were surprised but impressed by the numbers who turned out to watch the parade and entertainment.

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“I felt really privileged to be a part of it,” said Charlie, “and it is quite good to know that Lydia and I are two of only a very few people that have actually been to the real island.”

The visit was arranged by harbour master Rob Lawson on behalf of the Sea Ilfracombe Festival committee. The college also embraced the project, weaving Nowhereisland into the curriculum.

“The relationship with Ilfracombe has been great, as good as any place we have been, people have welcomed and adopted it,” said creator Alex.

“We have just over a week to go and it will be sad when it happens, but at the same time it’s been eight years of my life.

“We are even hoping to send a bit into space this week on a weather balloon, after another Ilfracombe man, Jay Clement, contacted us to suggest it.”

After visiting Bristol Nowhereisland will be broken up and each citizen entitled to a piece. There is still just time to ‘join the nation’ by visiting

* CLICK on the gallery to the top right of this story to see more pictures.

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