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9000 miles from London lies the British island of Pitcairn - one of the world's most isolated communities and home to just 47 people.
9000 miles from London lies the British island of Pitcairn - one of the world's most isolated communities and home to just 47 people.
239 backers pledged £13,244 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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THIS PROJECT HIT THE TARGET! There are still many rewards still to be had, so those of you who are interested in this project, don't stop funding it!
Reaching the £6000 mark equals a clear £4000 after fees and cost of rewards and postage which equates to my bare bones shoestring budget. 

If an extra £500 is pledged, I'll be able to take improved protective luggage and lead bags to protect my film from x-rays, if an additional £1000 is pledged, I'll be able to take upgraded digital video equipment and spare memory cards. If £2000 extra is pledged, I'll be able to get my film processed as soon as I'm back (without having to stagger it) which means everyone gets their rewards faster. If £5000 extra is pledged, I'll be able to produce a hardback edition of the book in a 1000 copies, with quality printing, and you'll be ensuring the future of this project for a long long time.

Every penny you pledge means that this project will go further. Not a penny from this project will be spent on anything other than the project itself. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT! Have a read below and see why it's is still worth supporting... 


---- THE PROJECT ----

My name is Rhiannon Adam, and I'm a photographer. I am about to embark on an incredible adventure taking me more than 9000 miles away from my home in London, to live amongst one of the world's most unique communities for 3 full months. I'm seeking your help to raise funds to buy the equipment and film that I need to make this once in a lifetime journey really count. 

The project that I want to undertake takes place on Pitcairn island. Many of you won't have heard of Pitcairn island, but it really is quite a remarkable place....

WHERE IS PITCAIRN!?

Pitcairn island - no beaches here!
Pitcairn island - no beaches here!

Pitcairn is Britain’s last remaining overseas territory in the Pacific Ocean, home to fewer than 50 permanent residents, most of whom are descended from the famous Mutiny on the Bounty of 1790 where Fletcher Christian led a group of Bounty crew against their captain, William Bligh. Because they knew that the British admiralty had a warrant out on their heads and wanted blood, they knew they could never return to Britain, but sought a new island they could call home. 

The mutineers, alongside several Tahitian followers (mostly women) went looking for Pitcairn, which they knew was marked in the wrong place on charts. When they found it, they burnt their vessel and marooned themselves on the island. The islanders today bear many of the mutineers original surnames and there is a very clear and traceable bloodline for the intervening 225 years. 

Pitcairn itself measures just two miles long and one mile wide. It is a volcanic piece of rock with no beaches, no sheltered harbour, off the main shipping lanes, and 340 miles away from the nearest airstrip, which lies to the west, in Mangareva, French Polynesia’s furthest outpost. To really understand where Pitcairn is, take a look on google maps and then zoom out! 

New Zealand on the left, and South America on the right
New Zealand on the left, and South America on the right
The journey, including stops that I'm going to take
The journey, including stops that I'm going to take

The waters around Pitcairn are some of the most untouched in the world, with some of the most beautiful coral reefs. At present there are plans to set up a marine conservation area protecting the islands from unwanted traffic and commercial fishing operations which could threaten this delicate ecosystem. 

Pitcairn's population is in fast decline. There is no secondary education on the island so most children leave the island aged 15 never to return. Despite a hopeful diaspora survey to attract former residents and relatives back to the island, there has been no significant interest in returning to Pitcairn, and not enough to sustain the ageing population. This is a story of a community on the brink of collapse, which is one of the main reasons I feel it is important to record it now, before it is too late.

The islanders have little income - mostly from selling carvings and honey, as well as stamps to outsiders who visit on a few cruise ships that stop for a few hours a few times a year. The shortfall is paid for by the British government, who supports the infrastructure on the island, including the cost of delivery supplies This also pays residents a small amount for government jobs deemed necessary to the island's continued survival. 

WHY ME, AND WHY NOW?

me with my Polaroid 180 camera
me with my Polaroid 180 camera

 I have just been given the most fantastic news and the most amazing opportunity I could ever dream of... It has taken me almost 3 years to get this far, but I’ve just won this year’s Journey of a Lifetime Award from the Royal Geographical Society and BBC Radio 4. This means that they are giving me £5000 to help pay for travel to my dream destination, and provide me with audio recording equipment to create a documentary to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 later on in the year. It was a rigorous selection procedure, and I'll have the BBC making sure that everything is delivered on time, and The Royal Geographical Society making sure I come back in one piece. You can listen to previous award winners' programmes here.

Few people have ever visited Pitcairn.  It is the world’s least populous jurisdiction, world’s smallest democracy, and one of the world’s most isolated communities. It's also the first place that women got the vote! 

As I mentioned above, time is ticking for Pitcairn and this may be the first and last artist's project on the island. In 1936 there were around 200 residents and now fewer than 50.  

SO HOW DO YOU GET THERE?

The only way to reach the island is from Tahiti to Mangareva, where you catch a boat that takes three days at sea. To make matters more extreme the boat only visits on 3 month rotations. I will be travelling solo, and will be marooned on Pitcairn for 96 nights until June, until I catch a supply vessel returning to New Zealand. Visas are hard to get and the waiting list for the boat can take up to a year as there are only 9 berths on the passenger run, and 2 on the supply boat run. My journey is scheduled to depart in early March from Mangareva, and I will be leaving the UK in late February.

This is the Claymore II, the vessel i'll be travelling on
This is the Claymore II, the vessel i'll be travelling on

THE PROJECT:

My project aim is to create a comprehensive photographic record of Pitcairn island, detailing its geography, customs, people and culture. This will be the first photographic project to document Pitcairn and its people and will give a unique insight into what life is like living on the edge of the world. I will also be staging the first ever exhibition to begin in Pitcairn and tour back to the UK, forging a link between these two cultures. With the magic of instant film I can get around the fact that Pitcairn has no printing services or labs and will be able to create a body of work that is Pitcairn through and through - born in the place it shows. 

In the long term, I also aim to create a book of the work, and will be creating a short run edition for Kickstarter backers as an exclusive preview. There will also be a range of outcomes including film footage, audio recordings, as well as photographs and writing. Because of the length of my stay, I'll also be able to experience a birthday on Pitcairn! 

MY WORK:

Some of you may already know me, and those that do, know that I usually work with Polaroid film. I mainly shoot expired film, but that is fast dying out, and I aim for this to be my swan song project, and tearful goodbye to the deadstock Polaroid film I usually shoot. I haven't been shooting very much over the last year, as I've been attempting to stockpile for this, my last major project with the film. 

Polaroid SX-70, from Dreamlands Wastelands showing expired film effects
Polaroid SX-70, from Dreamlands Wastelands showing expired film effects
Polaroid shot one year after expiry
Polaroid shot one year after expiry

I want to draw out the parallels between the fragility of the deadstock Polaroid film and the delicate and precarious nature of Pitcairn. Pitcairn's population is in steady decline, with young people leaving to continue their education at 15 and not wanting to return to such extreme isolation. The island's future is uncertain and the unique community of Pitcairn may not exist for many more years and I want to preserve it while I can.  

This project will use up the last of my stocks to make a project that really counts. I will also be shooting Impossible Project film along the way, and I'm delighted that The Impossible Project have pledged their support for the project. I'm really excited about pushing their film to its limits in a brand new Impossible location!

If you'd like to read more about me or my work, take a look at my bio, or my own website, www.save-polaroid.com

WHAT IS MY CONNECTION WITH PITCAIRN?

Much of my work is also concerned with identity, and particularly with Britishness. I published my first book, Dreamlands Wastelands last year, which studied British tourists at home and abroad - and I want to take this exploration to the next level...

Dreamlands Wastelands
Dreamlands Wastelands
Inside spread from my book, Dreamlands Wastelands
Inside spread from my book, Dreamlands Wastelands

Much of my work deals with identity, partly because my own is very fluid. I spent much of my childhood living on a boat sailing the world, with water rationing, no refrigeration, no flushing toilet, canned food, and powdered milk, moving from place to place and adopting new tastes along the way. 

That's me on the deck with my Mum at the bow, and Dad at the helm
That's me on the deck with my Mum at the bow, and Dad at the helm
Our boat Jannes, the only picture we have of us at sea
Our boat Jannes, the only picture we have of us at sea

For this reason I've always struggled with the idea of nationality and the identity granted by my passport. It is also for this reason I have been drawn to Pitcairn, a place that echoes many of those survival principles and is also a British bolt-hole far off the beaten track. This journey to Pitcairn will allow me to revisit these recurrent themes in my work, and my past stands me in good stead with the islanders themselves, and is the main reason why my long stay visa has been granted. 

Is being British related the the £, a cup of tea, the Queen's speech, or the bad weather? Or is there some other element that draws us all together?

This project will also give me an opportunity to photograph using other methods and take my work in new directions, and I will be travelling with my Hasselblad, a 35mm Contax camera, a 5x4 Graflex camera, as well as video and audio equipment. 

This will be my chance to create a legacy project for Pitcairn.

THE MONEY STUFF:

Once I leave for Pitcairn, there is nowhere to buy film, and no way of receiving post. I have to take everything I need with me. I am writing to you all to ask for your support to make this happen and make this project the best it can be. 

I am also very limited in time to raise funds as received news of the award in late January, and the radio show has to be broadcast in September, so there is only one boat between now and then! 

I have raised £2500 worth of support from friends and family on top of the £5000 from RGS/BBC. I have also been putting money for this trip and overall have £10,000. 

I still have a long way to go in a short time - and that's where you come in!

Overall (with no room for incidentals), the trip will cost £17, 800, or $26,800. 

That's without the cost of reward fulfilment and payment fees!

Breakdown of costs
Breakdown of costs

Travel: £5000 - to include flight from London to Tahiti, Tahiti to Mangareva, then boat to Pitcairn. For the return leg I'll catch the boat from Pitcairn to Tuaranga New Zealand (2 weeks), then bus to Auckland, and then flight home to London. 

Accommodation: £4500 - this includes cheap in-transit accommodation in French Polynesia, plus 96 nights in Pitcairn. These are set rates per night including meals.

Camera Equipment: £3000 - I'll need to take a spare body for my Hasselblad 500c/m, plus a 150mm lens. I also want to take a GoPro and attachments, and a digital SLR for backup. I will also need to buy a lightweight sturdy tripod, maintenance gear, flotation devices, charging packs and waterproof carrying cases. Electricity only flows a few hours a day on Pitcairn, so power backup will be important!

Film Costs: £3000 - I want to take 150 rolls of 120 film, 50 rolls of 35mm film, plus additional dead-stock Polaroid film which I am sourcing on eBay. I'm also going to take some 5x4 sheet film, which will then need to be processed. 

Excess baggage: £1500 - As you can imagine, this is a lot of kit to take and I'm travelling solo. I'll need to pay for excess on each leg of my journey for an additional two bags. This includes excess on the boat. 

Insurance: £500 - this is insurance both for myself and my equipment, but the high costs are to cover medical evacuation. Evacuation can run into the millions because of Pitcairn's isolation, so good coverage is a visa requirement. 

Injections and medical: £300 - Before I set off, I need to inoculations against rabies, typhoid, yellow fever, and hepatitis A and B. I also need to carry a small medical kit with me to include antibiotics and painkillers should anything happen while on the island. I also need to protect myself from mosquitoes. 

Kickstarter rewards: Obviously this is dependent on how many are taken up and at what levels, but the calculation on the pie chart is what the base costs are if every reward at every tier were taken up! People often forget this cost - but it quickly runs into the thousands!

As Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform, I am asking for the minimum I need to make the basics for this project happen... everything above my target will be an improvement -  I will be able to take more film, be able to get everything processed by the best places upon my return, be able to buy better equipment, and I will also be able to put funds towards a larger print run of the book and frames for exhibition. 

HOW CAN I FOLLOW THE JOURNEY?

As well as posting regular Kickstarter updates, I will also be keeping a blog (they do have very, very, limited internet) so you can see that your money is being responsibly spent. I will also be taking a small scanner to the island, so I will be able to keep everyone up to date with scanned Polaroids while I'm away!  


THANK YOU!

Whew! Thank you all for reading this far! 

I really hope you will consider helping me and sharing my appeal across your networks. I really hope that you think this is as fascinating a project as I do...this isn't just a story about Pitcairn, but a story of life living in isolation.

I really look forward to keeping in touch, sending your rewards, and sharing my journey progress along the way! 

Thank you in advance, your support means more than you know. 

UPDATE 12/02/2015: We've made the target, and on my 100th backer!

I really have no words... Rare for me, but honestly. Over the last day so many people have clubbed together to help me get to the finish line - It's an amazing feeling to now that there is so much support out there and that so many people believe in this project as much as I do.

Reaching the target will mean that the funds are secure, and that I can rest easy knowing that! I can't tell you what a weight off my mind this will be... every waking hour I've been thinking about this. I better get packing!!

When I first set up this Kickstarter I spent a day or so with a whole load of spreadsheets working out costs, fees, costs of rewards, postage charges, etc. It's a complicated thing to work out, because there are unknown quantities - where will you backers come from, how much will it really cost, etc. This has been worked out on the very lowest cost I can make the trip for, not a penny more...

If we continue sharing this and it goes significantly above its target I'll be able to get a large run of the book professionally printed (1000 copies, hardback) and will include all backers names in it, I'll also be able to purchase better video recording equipment for the trip, and I'll also be able to pay for prints and framing for an exhibition in London, to which you're all cordially invited!

I am not a commercial photographer and everything I do is self funded or paid for from print sales. Everything I earn from the art side of my work goes directly into making the next project happen. If this campaign goes over, the same rule will apply, and you'll be helping to secure the future of the project.

Please do keep sharing. I won't keep a penny of the funding from this project - it will all go into making the work, and pushing it out there, and hopefully putting Pitcairn on the map!

Thank you all, you've been incredible, and it's been such a boost, not just financially to know the support is out there when you ask for it.

With love and eternal gratitude,

(a very excited) Rhiannon XXX

Risks and challenges

Until today, I would say that the biggest risk is not getting my visa approved in time to make the sailing I'm booked on, but luckily for me that has just come through! This is a huge relief as obtaining permission to film and photograph can be difficult.

As you now know, Pitcairn island is incredibly isolated, so the biggest risk to this project is timings, with both departure, and return. Bad weather can mean my stay may be longer than expected, and so it may take a little longer to get your rewards if this happens!

I've left a buffer zone of time around each departure, to cater for bad weather, resulting delays, and to make sure I don't miss my boat trip. If I miss the boat there's no way to Pitcairn for another 3 months. The BBC schedule is tight, and they'll be monitoring this with me to make sure everything is as smooth sailing (no pun!) as it can be.

Should any medical emergency arise, there is no hospital on the island and I would have to be medically evacuated. For this reason one of the key costs of my trip is a sufficient level of medical evacuation cover.

Internet is sporadic and slow, and comes in via satellite. I have been communicating with islanders for the past few years, but updates may be infrequent depending on the current signal level, though I've been assured my Skype plans are manageable!

Because Pitcairn won't be able to receive post while I am there (I'm travelling on the mail boat), your postcards may arrive after I return, so I'll number them and you'll know which order to read them.

The lack of post means that I have to take everything with me when I go, so there is a risk of film damage by water or temperature. I'll be buying lead bags to protect film from X-rays and will be distributing my stock across luggage, and making sure I have an ample supply.

I'm 100% dedicated to this project, and determined to make it work. I have contingency plans for everything that I can think of and have completed full risk assessments with the Royal Geographical Society, but things can happen. If anything goes wrong along the way, you'll be the first to know about it.

Fingers crossed for plain sailing!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £2 or more About $3.02

    Thanks for your support! You'll receive a heartfelt thank you email, and be the first to hear my exclusive project updates.

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    Pledge £7 or more About $11

    You'll receive a handwritten postcard from Pitcairn sent just to you from some point during my stay.

    You'll also receive my everlasting gratitude, be the first to hear exclusive project updates, and be featured on my backers page on my website.

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    Pledge £20 or more About $30

    You'll receive 3 handwritten postcards from Pitcairn - one for each month of my stay.

    You'll also receive my everlasting gratitude, be the first to hear exclusive project updates, be featured on my backers page on my website, and you'll also be credited in the limited edition book that follows the trip.

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    Pledge £35 or more About $53

    You'll receive a PDF copy of the book ahead of its physical release. You'll also receive 3 handwritten postcards from Pitcairn - one for each month of my stay, as well as my everlasting gratitude.

    You'll also be the first to hear exclusive project updates, be featured on my backers page on my website, and you'll also be credited in the book.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $75

    You're a star! You'll receive a signed, limited edition print from the trip! I'll be creating an exclusive edition of 80 numbered 8"x10" prints for Kickstarter backers.

    You'll also receive a PDF copy of the book ahead of its physical release, 3 handwritten postcards from Pitcairn - one for each month of my stay, as well as my everlasting gratitude.

    You'll also be the first to hear exclusive project updates, be featured on my backers page on my website, and you'll also be credited in the book.

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    Pledge £75 or more About $113

    I love you! I'll personally source a mystery gift from Pitcairn to send to you as well as a Polaroid of it in situ on the island. You'll also receive a signed, limited edition print 8"x10" print from my exclusive Kickstarter edition.

    You'll also receive my everlasting gratitude, 3 handwritten postcards from Pitcairn, a PDF copy of the book, credit in both the book and website, and you'll be the first to hear exclusive updates about the project.

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    Pledge £150 or more About $226

    You're a huge help and I'd love to tell you just how much... I'll call you on Skype from Pitcairn Island and show you around. It'll be just like you're there with me.

    You'll also receive a larger 12" x 16" print, in a strictly limited Kickstarter edition of 20 AND you'll be the first to receive a physical copy of the book!

    I'll also personally source a mystery gift from Pitcairn island to send to you as well as a Polaroid of it on the island.

    As with the other reward levels, you'll also receive 3 handwritten postcards, credit in both the book and on the website, and you'll be the first to hear exclusive updates about the project.

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    Pledge £250 or more About $377

    You've helped me so much that I'll part with one original Polaroid taken on Pitcairn - if you have a special request I'll try my best to fulfil it! I'll make sure it's a good one.

    You'll also receive a yet larger 16" x 20" signed print from the trip, in an edition of 10!

    I'll also be giving you all of the rewards detailed above (handwritten postcards, Skype call, credits, physical copy of the book, mystery gift, and eternal gratitude).

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    Pledge £500 or more About $754

    I cant believe your generosity! At this level, I'll create a one-off emulsion lift (minimum of 3 image lifts) on Pitcairn island that's just for you. Each one is a true one of a kind.

    You'll also receive the biggest and most exclusive of the Kickstarter prints, as I'll be sending you a 20" x 24" print (edition of 9).

    I'll also be giving you all of the rewards detailed above (original polaroid, handwritten postcards, Skype call, credits, physical copy of the book, mystery gift, and eternal gratitude).

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,508

    There are no words! To say a huge thanks, I'll be sending you a nautical chart of Pitcairn, signed by myself and Pitcairn islanders. I will also write you one postcard a week from Pitcairn - that's 12 postcards in total.

    You'll also be receiving rewards from the other levels, including the emulsion lift, a 20" x 24" print (in an edition of 9), an original polaroid, Skype call, special mention credit, physical copy of the book, mystery gift, and eternal gratitude.

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    Pledge £2,500 or more About $3,770

    This is getting crazy now! You've not only bought yourself my undying love, but I'll also produce a one-off large-scale emulsion lift composite that will be framed and shipped to you. These take me almost a month to put together and usually sell for more than £3000.

    Remember you'll also receive all of the above rewards, including the signed nautical chart, print, original polaroid, book, skype call, special mention, mystery gift, 12 postcards, etc.

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    Pledge £3,500 or more About $5,278

    YOU ARE THE ONE AND ONLY

    Yes, that's you. For your unprecedented level of support, I'll give you a day of my time for an exclusive photo shoot on instant film. I'll travel anywhere in the UK for free, and will split travel costs 50/50 with you for anywhere else in the world. I'll also be able to regale you with tales of my travels in person.

    You'll end up with at least 20 final Polaroids, as well as high-res scans of each.

    You'll also be receiving the one-off large-scale framed emulsion lift composite, the signed nautical chart, print, original polaroid, book, Skype call, book dedication, mystery gift, 12 postcards, and of course my eternal gratitude.

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Funding period

- (22 days)