England

Nowhere Island Olympic arts project work starts

Work has started on creating a £500,000 Olympics art project from an arctic island.

Artist Alex Hartley and his team of 18 have dug six tonnes of material to bring back with them on the schooner Noordelicht.

Excavated parts of the island will be sculpted into a floating work of art called Nowhereisland.

Next year Nowhereisland will be towed around the South West on a barge as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

It is one of 12 arts projects chosen nationally to represent each of the UK regions as part of the Cultural Olympiad to run alongside the sporting events in 2012.

The island will be in Weymouth for the Olympic sailing.

Permission to extract a portion of the island, which has been revealed by a retreating glacier, was granted by the governor of Svalbard in 2010.

Lydia Maloney, 18, and Charlie Logan, 17, from Ilfracombe Arts College in Devon, joined the expedition which is designed to get people talking about what makes a nation.

The pair blogged on the Nowhereisland website: "Digging up six tonnes of rock, transporting it 200m across ice covered ocean via zodiac and then lifting it on to the Noorderlicht in three days?! So easy we completed it in six hours (and even had to take some back).

"Wasn't just rocks and dirt we were bringing back with us, when exploring the island we came across many interesting artifacts including strange looking plants, an ancient looking trilobite and a seal foot."

People will be invited to become citizens of Nowhereisland, although no-one will be allowed on it.

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