The Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire seems like a cool party: people dressed in creative costumes, music, festivities, and laughing gas balloons. The 2011 edition experienced one setback though: a helium-filled floating fantasy island, hovering over festival goers, was released by vandals and must now be floating somewhere in the stratosphere.
I’d like to see the face of the pilot who encounters that thing…
It was supposed to be a £12,000 art project in which a helium-filled sculpture of a desert island floated eerily above the heads of spaced-out festival-goers. It has become instead a £12,000 art project in which a helium-filled sculpture of a desert island floats somewhere through the troposphere without anybody actually seeing it, or even knowing where it is.
Let us round up what we do know. At around 3am on 24 July, as Saturday night at the Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire was draining away, a group of five boys was seen cutting the tether ropes that secured the Is Land (as it is known) in place. So determined were these vandals, that two of them requisitioned a dinghy in which they rowed out into a lake to cut the final cable. As they did so, the sculpture floated off and has not been seen since. The Civil Aviation Authority and the local airports were informed, but have not reported any sightings.
“It was pretty devastating,” says the artist Sarah Cockings, who returned to the site shortly afterwards to find that six months of her work had gone. “Letting thousands of pounds off into the atmosphere is a little bit too rock’n'roll for me. It wasn’t something I took very lightly.”
Cockings is confident that she could repair the Is Land, to make it ready for a visit to the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Indeed, she is assured that it will, eventually, return to earth. The question is: where? Using meteorological data, a model has been made to show the sculpture’s likely path. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, it is right now floating somewhere above the Czech Republic.