This summer I took part in the Cultural Olympiad artwork Nowhereisland in the South West of England. As part of Young Plymouth Arts Centre artist lead group. We wrote folklore stories about the history of Nowhereisland, it was a challenge but one of which I very much enjoyed. Below you can see photographs I took of the opening of the exhibition at Plymouth Arts Centre which accompanied the Nowhereisland project, my folklore story and a link to the full book of stories by YPAC, as well as lots of media coverage of Nowhereilands visit to Plymouth this summer – Bethie
Nowhereisland is an island from the Arctic, which will journey around the south west coast of England this summer, stopping at eight ports and harbours accompanied by its remarkable Embassy and team of Ambassadors. Nowhereisland arrives in Plymouth on 9 August for a four-day visit to Jennycliff Bay. As it passed through international waters, the island was declared the world’s newest nation with citizenship open to all. Nowhereisland arrives in Weymouth for the Olympic sailing events then embarks on a six week coastal journey, which will conclude in Bristol.
Plymouth Arts Centre is the host organisation for Nowhereisland in the city. Throughout the summer the gallery at Plymouth Arts Centre will become a Citizens Advice Bureau. See the growing map of citizens, watch the Nowhereisland animation by Efford’s High View Primary School, become a citizen and find out more about the island’s origins and its growing constitution.
Free by Bethie Helliwell
It is said that when the ice to the north is at it’s worst it is like being trapped, with pressure ridges greater than eighty feet tall. Steering your course is said to be impossible when clouds hid the southernly sun and stars are hidden for many eighteen-hour nights on end. This is understood more than anyone by Akna, a low ranking girl within the nomadic tribe of Svalbard. She has falling in love with Iluak, the son of their tribes Kaskae (Chief) and now carries his child.
‘If only we could be free’ she thinks as she looks up in wonder into the Kinguyakkii (The Northern Lights), as she often does to escape from her shame. “Close your eyes and shelter!!” a woman shouts from behind. Akna turns around to see the wise old woman, Tootega” gazing at her, wide eyes of worry. Tootega explains “if a pregnant female looks up high into the Kinguyakkii it will cause great harm and suffering to her unborn child”.
As Akna is carrying the future leader of their tribe there is outrage and she is called before Kaskae, the chief, who deems her the life of a Wolf, once the baby is born she and the baby must leave the tribe and never return. Iluak pleads with his father to change his mind and let his young family stay with the tribe but Kaskae holds to his word.
In the middle of the following night Iluak approaches Akna as she is gazing at the Tlate Hiin (twinkle upon the water) upon the sea at the edge of their tribes border. To Akna it seems like Iluak has the weight of the world upon his shoulders. He holds her arms and explains “We must leave, I have collected the boat, we must head to Sirmiq, before the sun reaches the ice”.
“Sirmiq is disappearing, it is a refuge for no one, we will melt away with the ice” she replies.
“I know this to be true, but think bravely Akna and imagine with me what might lie in its path” Iluak says shouting in whispers.
She looks into his eyes and understands This is the only way for them, the only way they can find peace for them and their unborn child, a new start upon the sea.
Akna sits pulling her blankets around her in the little rowing boat as Iluak pushes off from the ice. As time passes they both tire of paddling and fall asleep in the boat. Waves carry them along the ocean away from their troubled land. When she awakens she see’s their boat is stuck against hard rocks. She is stricken with a sense of ownership, of which she has never felt before. Akna wakes up Iluak in excitement. “We have found our land”. Iluak awakes quickly and looks around in astonishment, then rushes to Akna embracing her and their unborn child. He steps of the boat, pulling Akna gently with him, “Our own land”.
However the realisation of their situation is occurring to Akna and she starts to worry “but we are nowhere, with nothing”.
Illuak turns to face her and looks her reassuringly “but don’t you see we have everything, a new beginning, our freedom, this is our NOWEHEREISLAND”.
Within the next couple of days Akna gives birth to a beautiful healthy baby, which they call Annakpok, meaning ‘free’. They make a promise upon this birth to create their own settlement, to create a nation with inclusive laws, where people respect one another and no one is left to flee for their lives as outcasts.
For more information on this project please visit the links below: