Brenda Baxter
Image from the Book “Urbanislands” by Brenda Baxter

An excerpt from ‘Urbanislands’ a short book by Nottingham writer and artist Brenda Baxter.

Arriving in Nottingham from the station walk towards the city centre. Soon it will be possible to circumnavigate the island’s perimeters and explore its centre. You’ll notice the street names and other aspects of its geography speak of a past island life. The buildings are bound by an interlocking system of roads and traffic lights where it’s still possible for the traveller to walk with some ease of entry and exit. The flow of traffic is both predictable and relentless, like the tides and estuaries. Soon you will come to know them and even take comfort from them.

There is a struggling island community and one that can be similarly experienced in islands in the North West of Scotland or Ireland. George Pett built here in 1914 and that building still stands. Many of its inhabitants have long since fled to other shores to make a living. Rumour has it that the Owner of the island has abandoned islanders and that there is little hope for their future livelihood. Maybe you will be able to encounter them on walking the island and maybe you will share a conversation for they have become shy and uncertain, wary of strangers, suspicious of tourists with cameras and fine talking ways.

Ocean is the place to meet the islanders. It’s one place that welcomes strangers. Tales are exchanged and those who congregate on its steps or in its doorways invite flights of fantasy and gruesome stories of the past. I’ve come here to understand the nature of things here and to find a way to escape the prospect of this island disappearing.

We’ll be posting video works by multi-media artist and writer Brenda Baxter in the following days.

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