Previous art and media projects on Orford Ness

Orford Ness has been the home and inspiration for many art projects. Images from the projects can be seen in the gallery above. For more detail and links to audios and videos - see below.

Sensitive Chaos on Orford Ness (2019)

Antony Lyons used four rooms in the Information Building for his creative installation Sensitive Chaos. The exhibition was a work in progress and visitors could see the process of creating the final installation, which had elements in various locations around the site. See Sensitive Chaos for more information.

Michael Portillo visits Orford Ness (2018)

Michael Portillo on Orford Ness

Hidden history Orford Ness 

Michael Portillo aimed to unlock some of the mysterious military history of Orford Ness. Find out more about the programme which was broadcast in April 2018. This may still be available on catchup.

Podcasts by Bethany Hughes

A workshop on sound (July 2017)

A workshop lead by Chris Watson and Jez Riley French in July 2016 has just been condensed into a programme for framework radio. Listen to the recording and learn more about their work here.

Anglia Mist (June 2017)

Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company presented the premier of this play on Orford Ness on 24 June followed by two performances on 25. Hidden secrets, dark conspiracies counter-intelligence and spies were the order of the day for “Anglian Mist” - Stuff of Dreams’ excellent 2017 production.
This was a psychological thriller as a long-hidden cold war plot was brought kicking and screaming into the light of day with chilling consequences for all involved.
Inspired by the vast concrete pagodas and the desolate beauty of Orford Ness and held in the atmospheric Armoury, this play opened with an immersive theatre experience on the Ness itself and then later toured the eastern region.

One and All: A voyage through sight, sound and sea (2015)

was a Trust New Art commission by three leading artists working across sound, poetry and art. One of the artists, Martyn Ware, commissioned a portable beach hut to capture stories from the public. Orford Ness hosted the beach hut for a short period in the summer of 2015.

After touring the country, the beach hut resided at Somerset House during the Autumn. Martyn, along with film maker Benjamin Wigley, has taken these recordings and incorporated them into an audio visual experience.

Read more about this national project.

SNAP - Art at the Aldeburgh Festival (2014)

Inspired by the landscape on which the British military conducted its early experiments in flight, Scottish-born artist Anya Gallaccio created a new installation for the Aldeburgh Festival’s SNAP visual arts programme during June 2014 at Orford Ness. This was part of the Artists in Residence programme.

Using images of imploded material taken from the site, original aerial photography from the Imperial War Museums’ archive and the region’s constantly shifting shingle landscape, Gallaccio created a spectacular installation and series of photographic images that draw on her fascination with the properties of organic matter and the forces of decay and destruction

Orford Ness Untrue Island 

'Listen. Listen now. Listen again to the sounds of this slow-flowing shingle river. Listen to the voices of this untrue island. Listen to the .......

Blind Landing

An artwork created at Orford Ness in 2013 by Jane and Louise Wilson and filmed by Ben Wigley. The title refers to the Experimental Unit that was operational during the cold war period. See the video.


A sound-work by Chris Watson, recorded on location Orford Ness in 2012 in response to the Stormbeach Chapter in Robert Macfarlane's "The Wild Places".


During August 2011 three circular objects on Orfordness were appropriated and declared to be Artworks by Hugh Pilkington. For nearly 100 years it has been thought that any object can become an art object if so declared by an artist and presented in an art context. In declaring these three elements on Orfordness, Hugh Pilkington transformed them for a month after which they reverted to their original state.

Cast away

Concerned about the amount of plastic in our oceans and washing up on our shores, Suffolk artist Fran Crowe created art from the rubbish washed up on the beach there. Helped by volunteers, Fran collected plastics on Orford Ness beach over a couple of months and created an installation from what she found.
More about Fran Crowe.

Stone Eye

Martin Laurance, Heather Hodgson, Joan Hodes, Ali Hollingsworth, John Barker and Katharine Roney took inspiration from the wild and remote coastline. Locals themselves or those with strong connections to the Orford area, they each shared a fascination with ‘The Island’, as it is known locally. The group staged an exhibition of their work at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh during November 2010.

The Island of Secrets

A journey in sound with Paul Evans as in 2009 he explores the landscape of Orford Ness exposed to the waves and relentless wind.

Cobra Mist

Cobra Mist explored the relationship between landscape and traces of military history on the Ness, particularly the experiments in radar and the architecture of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. The film made in 2008 recorded the physical traces of the past using the photographic nature of 16mm film and time lapse to construct an impossible experience of the landscape and expose its history to the camera.

Pagoda project

The Pagoda Project was a time based artwork installed in an ex-atomic bomb environmental test building. The time-based installation consisted of a computer generated image sequence, projected in 'The Pagoda', Laboratory 4 of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment site on Orford Ness. The event took place from 10-16 August 2008.

A record of fear

The sense of mystery and secrecy on the Ness, and the changing nature of the site, became the focus for Louise K Wilson in 2005. A choir performed in some of the remaining military buildings and these voices, along with other sound recordings from the Ness were manipulated to form audio works, which together with a video work were installed on site. An off site element was installed at the Wolsey Art Gallery.
More about the project

Dennis Creffield

In the mid 1990s National Trust commissioned Dennis Creffield to paint Orford Ness as part of its Foundation for Art scheme. A series of paintings and drawings/sketches was produced, some of which are held in the National Trust's collections.
Find Dennis's work in Trust's Collections

John Wonnacott

Before the National Trust purchased Orford Ness John Wonnacott had started painting the derelict landscape. Further work was commissioned from John and his painting of Military Remains on Orford Ness is held in the Trust's collections.
See John's work in the Trust's collections