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 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!
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?
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.
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!
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.
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...
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.
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!
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!
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!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (22 days)