HOW IT WORKS
In 2000, the Norton Island Residency Program, under the leadership of the Eastern Frontier Education Foundation, was founded as a nonprofit and developed to create an ideal place for artists to paint, write, sculpt and compose.
The nature of this program is straightforward, even rudimentary: this is a remote, rustic wilderness with facilities to accommodate a select group of artists who sometimes share their work after dinner but are otherwise there to work uninterrupted. The environment is beautiful, extreme, and unadorned. Each resident is required to work with their fellow residents to conserve water and electricity, to help clean up after dinner, and to tote their own share of firewood. Norton Island is an outdoorsy experience that may come as a shock at first to residents who have spent time at other artist residencies.
Please note the following before applying:
- Cabins have no running water or facilities. Bathrooms and showers are located at the main lodge. Each cabin is charming and set far from other cabins for maximum privacy and work conditions.
- It gets cold at night. Sometimes it is cold during the day. While the rest of the world swelters in the heat, the Maine summers are forgivingly mild.
- Expect rain. Expect glorious days of sun, but expect rain, too.
- It is very dark at night. There are constellations in the heavens that you didn’t believe existed.
- It is an island about one mile from the mainland, and the closest mainland town is the fishing village of Jonesport. Travel to and from the island is done by boats, used for emergencies, supplies, and planned trips to the mainland only.
- Watch out for wildlife—most of it amazing, some of it icky, all of it harmless.
- Travel (and travel costs) to Bangor Airport (or to Jonesport, for residents who are driving) are the responsibility of residents. Transportation from Bangor Airport to Norton Island will be made available to non-driving residents, free of charge.
- Norton Island maintains wi-fi satellite connection to the Internet. The wi-fi is only available in a single location, the West Camp lodge, which is open to residents during normal hours. But be warned: there is NOT wi-fi access in the cabins or across most of Norton island.
“I first arrived in Jonesport at 2 am, but Steve insisted on meeting me. He collected me from the docks and ferried me through the fog, and through a minefield of lobster traps, in his chugging S.S. Minnow-style cruiser. From the moment we touched ground on his forested island, where silence is threaded by the constant humming of a windmill, and where a hot meal awaited me in the lodge, I entered a cozy and otherworldly time warp of rugged solitude, warm camaraderie, intense natural beauty, and wonderful productivity. Early each day, in the serenity of my cabin, accompanied only by the whistling pines and the patient mosquitoes that had gathered on my screen, I would begin my deep wanderings into the draft of my second novel… Late afternoons, to refill my tank, I would follow the downy “buoy path” to the ocean side of the island, often accompanied by one or two of the uniformly fascinating and accomplished other residents. When I was feeling more daring I would venture out in the rowboat—once getting wildly lost in the fog that two passing lobster fishermen, steaming along, informed me in some forgotten, briny dialect that I had drifted several islands away! Evenings, however, are when it all came together: ten or so committed artists and writers, gathering around a long teak table (and then a campfire), shared from their work, cracked each other up, and enjoyed the most marvelous food and wine. Anything I accomplished in the solitude of my cabin owed to the gestalt of Norton Island—its devoted community, its pervasive calm, the youthfully spirited and defiant way it juts its rocky face into the ocean.”
John Beckman, author, The Winter Zoo