Sandy Island, New Caledonia WGS 84 19°13′12″S, 159°55′48″ E-19.22,159.93

Sandy Island was featured as part of 'Final Light' an exhibition and event on 21st Dec 2012

Sandy Island is a celebration of a place that was probably never there and an event that may never have occurred

On hearing about the discovery or rather 'non- discovery' of Sandy island in the news this autumn, I couldn't help but want to find out more about it. The identification of the island goes back to Captain Cook who charted it in 1774 and it has been subsequently transcribed in maps and nautical charts ever since. It had even become a feature of google maps until an Australian based surveying ship discovered that at the believed location the sea floor was never less than 4,300 feet lower than sea level! The island was also included in a British Admiralty chart in 1908 with a note about the source of its charting to a whaling ship called the Velocity in the year 1876. Apparently the ship's master had reported that there was a series of "heavy breakers" and some "Sandy Islets." Perhaps Sandy island is the new Cortes Bank, a place where you might find the worlds biggest waves when the weather conditions are just right! Coming from a faith background and having always been intrigued by the way that written historical accounts have traditionally been copied down and passed on - along with any inherent transcription errors to future generations. The Sandy island story seemed to be an ironic modern day parallel to the way in which the act of recording or mapping combined with the element of time can sometimes produce unforeseen consequences. The fairly recent occurrence of an image of a crucified father christmas during the festive season in a Tokyo shopping centre is well documented.

In this incarnation, the island is roughly spherical rather than long and thin as Cook's cartographer had drawn. In this contemporary and, fairly playful take on a traditional nativity scene, most of the usual characters are missing. This time, there is just one solitary female figure, accompanied by her new born, ‘the light of the world’ and surrounded by more gifts. And surrounding this pair is the cool blue/green suffuse glow of the Coral sea.

On the 26th November 2012 Google Maps removed all reference to Sandy Island and by the 29th of the same month the National Geographical Society had struck it off too. Please let us not let the memory of Sandy Island sink from our collective consciousness!!