Maisie Paradise Shearring
43° 55′ N – 16° 55′ W
ATLANTIC OCEAN ✯ 168 KM2 ✯ 32 INHABITANTS AND 127 CATS, APPROXIMATELY ✯ 637 KM FROM MAINLAND SPAIN ✯ 3 SEPTEMBER 1879 – MAYBE A SHIPWRECK, NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE ✯1 JANUARY 1902 – THE INKINOBHOS RAISE THE TEMPLE ✯ 25 NOVEMBER 1969 – THE LARGE OLD HAT WASHED UP ON THE SHORE ✯ ‘I PLANTED THE SWEET PEAS LAST SUMMER FOR MY MOTHER’ – MPS
It all began with cats. Maybe the first cats here were sabre-toothed and truly wild, living when mammoths roamed elsewhere. If so, some must have evolved here, because cats don’t really enjoy swimming. In 1879, the good ship Marlborough disappeared and reports last placed it near the island of Lygrano. Marlborough was known to be carrying a cargo of big cats, en route to America to join a travelling menagerie. The captain and crew were never found, did they drown at sea, or were they eaten by cats? The cats roamed the island, produced cubs and thrived.
Evidence has been found of people who formerly lived on the island – a group who named themselves the Inkinobhos. In their temple there is evidence, in the form of paintings and scripts, that they released big cats saved from captivity. To this day there are reported sightings of lions, panthers, pumas, caracal with tufted ears and clouded leopards, and possibly others. There are four houses where artists and their families now live, a structure made of glass and a multi-storey house off the causeway, and the temple erected by the Inkinobhos; other structures seem to be later. A gap in the island’s history is probably the period when Statue Land was created. Some speculate Lygrano was briefly inhabited by a small group of explorers. The island is 48,270 domestic cats long by 39,786 cats high (approximately), although there is no official measurement, or enough cats to line up in a row to verify this.
It appears that for a time the island went back to the cats. The houses were in need of much repair when the artists and their families arrived. Some brought their pets; Bunk was the first domestic short-hair cat. Days are spent working the land and creating in the studio. As for the very large old washed up hat in the centre, there is much discussion as to its origins. The initials P. N. are etched into the leather. Who do they belong to? And why is it here? The only rules on Lygrano are that jobs are shared – growing vegetables, brushing the horses, cleaning the studio – and that everyone is respectful towards each other, and of course, the cats.