A series of major new commissions by international artists are being presented this summer by Artangel on Orford Ness a windswept strip of land stretching several miles along the Suffolk coast owned by the National Trust and known locally as the island of secrets.
Accessible only by boat, Orford Nesss environment shifts from mud flats, salt marshes and brackish lagoons, to shingle ridges that are home to a unique ecosystem of flora and fauna and an eroding coastline. An assortment of abandoned structures punctuate the desolate landscape, apparitions from the time when Orford Ness was used by the British military during both World Wars as a test site for radio, radar and ballistics systems, and for the UKs atomic weapons research programme during the Cold War.
Presented in partnership with the National Trust, Afterness
opened on 1st July 2021 to the public with new works by poet Ilya Kaminsky, artists Alice Channer, Emma McNally and Tatiana Trouvé and an installation featuring sound recordings made on Orford Ness over many years by Iain Chambers and Chris Watson. Beacon.black, a new 24-hour radio station conceived by DJ and producer Brian dSouza, mixing sounds from Orford Nesss nature and culture also launches as the first in a series of commissions performed, filmed and recorded on site and shared online including new works by London-based artists Paul Maheke and Rachel Pimm and Atlanta-based musician and artist Lonnie Holley.
Walking across the landscape, visitors hear I See a Silence, a suite of poems by Ukrainian-American writer Ilya Kaminsky inspired by the singular ecology and unsettling history of Orford Ness, with sound design by Axel Kacoutié. Black Beacon, a wooden structure built in the 1920s for early radio experiments houses recordings by Iain Chambers and Chris Watson in a library of sounds, and a new sculpture by Alice Channer takes over a deserted shelter nearby. The derelict interior of Lab 1, a structure built in the 1950s for the Atomic Weapons Research Establishments testing programme as been transformed by a new installation by French-Italian artist Tatiana Trouvé. A large-scale graphite drawing by British artist Emma McNally inspired by the entangled systems and histories of Orford Ness is housed inside The Armoury.
A series of digital projects extend and re-imagine the site of Orford Ness online. Paul Maheke made a new film rooted in the rich history of myths and UFO sightings on Orford Ness, a new project by Rachel Pimm focuses on the geology of the shingle landscape and its imagined legacies of contamination, and Brian dSouzas beacon.black houses two distinct radio streams, one examining the audio landscape of Orford Ness itself bird song, wind, and waves and the other exploring its history of surveillance and broadcast in a website designed by Ollie Olanipekun, founder of creative studio Futurimpose and also Flock Together, a birdwatching collective for people of colour.