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The Journey Embassy


A nation is shaped by its origins. This is the origin of Nowhereisland.

The territory for Nowhereisland was revealed from within the melting ice of a retreating glacier, located in the northernmost polar landmass. This remote High Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is a landscape shaped by the rapidly receding ice cap and marked by minimal human history; for many years a no-man’s land touched only by whaling, prospecting and exploration. This is a harsh and inhospitable place over which nations have fiercely debated their territorial and mining rights and an area to which only a handful of pioneering migrants have settled.

The story of Nowhereisland starts with Alex Hartley’s search for new land. Whilst on the 2004 Cape Farewell expedition he asked himself if it was possible to stand somewhere no human had stood before. On 20th September 2004, Alex Hartley found the uncharted island he was seeking. During the seven years since Hartley’s initial discovery, he and his team worked towards their return expedition which took place in September 2011. The team was made up of specialists in international law, environmental and political campaigning, human migration, anthropology and psychology, and three young people.

Nowhereisland makes us reflect on the history of land grab and exploration, migrancy, sovereignty and belonging. Nowhereisland is a new nation formed in acknowledgement of the failure of existing nation states to address interconnected global crises, which include but also extend beyond climate change.

Here you can find out further information about Nowhereisland's beginnings, from the discovery and mapping of Nyskjaeret (the name given to the newly discovered island by Alex Hartley), to the historical and contemporary lives of Svalbard. Alongside these sections, you can also explore the fictional associations of Nowhereisland - from the Creation Myth composed by the expedition team to the imaginative charge of 'islands' and the Arctic for writers and artists.


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Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

Identity designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Wolfram Wiedner, website by Wolfram Wiedner.