Page last updated at 12:54 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 13:54 UK

Artist paid to tow Arctic 'isle'

Alex Hartley
Alex Hartley says there will be "magic" in the island project

The Arts Council has awarded Devon artist Alex Hartley £500,000 to tow part of an Arctic island to the UK.

Rocks from the island in the Svalbard archipelago north of Norway will be dug by excavator and placed on a barge.

They will then be brought to the UK where they will be put on a floating football pitch-sized platform to create the work, to be called Nowhere Island.

It will be in Weymouth for the Olympic sailing in 2012, before a tug tows it around the South West coast to Bristol.

Gillian Taylor, from Arts Council England, said there would be an environmental education programme linked with the artwork.

Nowhere Island
The donor island was found by Mr Hartley in 2004

She said: "We wanted something big and special and thought-provoking on an environmental issue.

"Good art is about ideas. And it's going to be a fantastic piece of art work.

"Lots of people will think it is worth the money."

Mr Hartley, from Dunkeswell, fought off a number of competitors to win the race to the £500,000 commission from London 2012 and the Arts Council.

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.

It is slightly absurd... but when you see the island there will be magic in it
Artist Alex Hartley

Mr Hartley found the unnamed island on a climate change expedition in 2004.

People will be invited to become citizens of Nowhere Island, although no-one will be allowed on it except Mr Hartley.

After the project finishes the island will be towed back to Norway.

He said: "I'm not going to get rich from this project."

He maintained that the environmental cost of towing the island was outweighed by the "poetry of the project".

"It is slightly absurd, but it is really easy to engage people with.

"When you see the island there will be magic in it."

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