Norton is an 150-acre island consisting of, primarily, spruce forests; massive glacial dumps and quarries of granite; birch, berries and blankets of lush moss, also known as “The Devil’s Broadloom.” The only permanent residents of Norton Island are bald eagles, seals, herons, ducks, deer and feisty raccoons. You have never heard such varieties of birdsong. There are no poisonous plants or dangerous animals. The Nature Conservancy owns many of the surrounding islands, where the abundant wildlife, endangered species, and rare vegetation produced by the area’s unique microclimate are protected.
Travel to and from the island, as well as planned day trips, will be made with one of our two outboard boats. Leisure activities include amazing and varied hikes around the island, rowing, fishing, berry/flower gathering, sea kayaking, animal and bird watching, and exploring other nearby islands aboard the larger boat. Because of the ocean, rough terrain and isolation, residents are required to sign a release form. In the seventeen years of the program, no one has ever been injured.
FACILITIES & PROVISIONS
General Provisions for Residents
Of the 150 acres of land that constitute Norton Island, 130 are left undisturbed, in their natural state, made accessible by a single walking trail. The natural portion of the island contains many meadows, open ocean vistas, blueberry patches, moss carpets and forest dells for quiet contemplation and portable work. One can walk for half a day in complete solitude with no sign of civilization.
The developed 20 acres contains log buildings. These include small cabins for each artist, open fields and a road connecting them. There are vehicles for land and sea transportation.
The main lodge includes a large kitchen and dining table for twelve, a meeting room with podium, library, three sleeping areas, and a large deck for outdoor meals and lobster cooking. There are seven cabins for writers and a small conservatory with a piano for a composer or musician. Visual artists are hosted in the workshop barn with large doors that open south for a well-lit art studio and easy portage of large equipment. The barn contains ample equipment for wood and metalworking, as well as two smaller, attached studios. Writers and artists generally sleep where they work.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Maine Arts Commission, Norton Island is wheelchair-accessible.
Please note: although the island has plumbing and electricity, the style throughout is quite rustic. Facilities are divided among residents based on need.
Food is prepared by a full-time professional chef. Most eating restrictions are accommodated.
You'll find a complete guide to the island to see after your needs and your safety, as well as materials to help plan the occasional recreational event, if you're interested.
Norton Island maintains a stereo, a cell phone, a projector, and a wi-fi satellite connection to the Internet. Please note: the wi-fi is only available in a single location, the West Camp lodge, which is open to residents during normal hours. There is not wi-fi access in the cabins, nor across most of Norton island.
Facilities for Visual Artists
Norton Island has studio space for two residencies per session. While these studios are large and the living/sleeping quarters are attached, most artists come to Norton Island to capture the landscape. Consider bringing along a tent or travel easels and materials to move easily around the island to capture sea, sky, and land.
Painters: Well-lit studios are a place to work when the weather gets rough, but when the weather gets rough, the rough get painting. The island's surroundings are never more beautiful than in a fog rolling back, or under bruiser thunderheads.
Photographers: Norton Island is extremely photogenic. However, the island does not have darkroom facilities. Consider work in both black and white and color, and watch for opportunities to capture the big things like flora, fauna and geological phenomena, but also textures, weather, and local color.
Sculptors: The island is big and sturdy enough for the heavy machinery of all kinds of sculpting work. We have had resident furniture makers, sculptors who work in metals, and artists who create collage from found objects on the island. There are large power tools and an outside work area available.
Facilities for Writers
Norton Island is ideal for writers of all stripes. It gives focus often sapped by a distracting, hectic world, without taking away a world of beauty and interest. Writers often remark on how much new work they generate in a residency, and the peace and solitude are perfect for revision work and reading.
The main lodge offers a small but relevant library of books, including books on the local plant and animal life. A new and growing collection of books written on Norton Island also populate the library.
Poets: It is a priority of Norton Island to give space to at least two poets at each residency. As with visual artists, it is difficult for poets to ignore the natural beauty of the island. However, many kinds of poets with various projects both formal and innovative have found Norton Island an ideal place to get work done.
Playwrights: Norton Island also reserves one space at each residency for a playwright. Playwrights are encouraged to employ fellow residents for evening readings of new and old work.
Fiction: Fiction writers find the peace and quiet a boon to the generating new work. A tradition of conversation and manuscript swapping has been encouraged through every session.
Nonfiction: Every type of nonfiction writer is welcome. We find nature and travel writers, especially, take advantage of the location.
Facilities for Musicians & Composers
The conservatory cabin, equipped with increased electrical sources, and proximity to the main lodge, is ideal for songwriters.