Nowhere left to go as art island arrives at last
A WEEKEND of live music, performances and film screenings was held in Bristol to mark the final stop of an 'art island's' tour of the West Country.
Nowhereisland – a controversial £500,000 artwork created by Alex Hartley – was towed by barge into the city's Cumberland Basin as part of the Cultural Olympiad – the artistic celebrations surrounding this summer's Olympics.
The artist, who recreated an Arctic island recently exposed by melting ice by removing its top layer, wanted to raise awareness of climate change.
Some had previously criticised the cost of the project, including the Taxpayer's Alliance who described it as "a floating absurdity".
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During the course of the island's surreal tour of the West Country coast, which started in Weymouth in June and culminated with its arrival in Bristol on Friday, people were able to sign up as "citizens" and have a say in the development of its constitution and laws.
Around 50 people gathered in Park Street on Friday for a colourful march to the Harbourside to welcome the island into the city.
One of those who joined the march was Ruth Levitas, 63, a sociologist from Bristol University, who lives in Redland.
"I have signed up as a citizen and think this is the most fascinating utopian project," she said.
"It encourages people to think about the constitution and makes people think about art as politics and politics as art and we need that."
Councillor Jon Rogers, deputy leader of Bristol City Council and Lib Dem candidate for Bristol mayor, was one of those to welcome the island.
"Nowhereisland is a great idea – it's not often that a new country is created," he joked.
"I like that it has its own ambassadors expressing new ideas. I am definitely going to sign up as a citizen."
More than 20,000 people signed up to "citizenship" of the floating island, which has been accompanied on its travels by a mobile "embassy" bus.
A celebration event was held at the ss Great Britain on Saturday to mark the end of the island's journey.
Mr Hartley was joined by fellow artists, poets and writers Philip Hoare, Tim Etchells, Salena Godden, Keith Wilson, geographer Tim Cresswell, constitutional lawyer Carl Gardner and scholar of utopia Richard Noble, to explore Nowhereisland as a "utopian dream".
Claire Doherty, director of Bristol-based arts organisation Situations which helped to produce the artwork, said: "Nowhereisland has shown us what the story of a small island on a journey can inspire.
"Thousands of propositions have been made for the nation's constitution, from 'everyone has the right to be heard' to 'free ice cream on Fridays'."
After a farewell celebration yesterday, the 200-tonne island was due to be broken up and distributed by post to each of its citizens.