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Orford Ness teams up with University of Suffolk for new art exhibition

Researchers Dr Jane Watt and Dr SE Barnet stood outside the Power House at Orford Ness on a sunny day
Researchers Dr Jane Watt and Dr SE Barnet outside the Power House at Orford Ness | © University of Suffolk

This summer, we're hosting Make It Count, a new exhibition by students and researchers from University of Suffolk.

Make It Count opens to the public on Saturday 18 May and features drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and text. It’s part of a longer-term project entitled Power House, which is led by researchers and artists Dr Jane Watt and Dr SE Barnet.

Since November 2023, the pair have been working with undergraduate student artists to explore how archival data collection, documenting the flora and fauna of Orford Ness over the past 30 years, can be presented in new and thought-provoking ways.

Dr Jane Watt, senior researcher and lecturer at the University of Suffolk, said: “I have visited Orford Ness for over a decade and love bringing students here.

“Each time we see something new, whether it is making drawings outside in 50mph gales or witnessing the shifting colours across the landscape as the sun rises. It is a beguiling place: from craters in the shingle caused by dropped bombs to the remnants of decaying man-made structures which are now victims of continual coastal erosion.

“Our partnership with the National Trust at Orford Ness provides a fantastic opportunity for us as artists and researchers, alongside our students, to apply imaginative thinking and creative skills in a real-world environment.”

A man hangs artwork inside the Power House at Orford Ness in Suffolk
Make It Count, featuring work by University of Suffolk students and researchers, will be open to visitors throughout the summer | © University of Suffolk

The collaboration has so far involved a two-day and overnight stay at Orford Ness and extensive research and experimentation, both onsite and at the University’s studios and workshops.

The long-term partnership between the National Trust and University of Suffolk is called Power House, named after the small brick building located on the shingle at Orford Ness. It formerly housed a generator which supplied electricity to the Black Beacon, a homing beacon for military aircraft disguised as a beacon for marine navigation.

In February, Dr Jane Watt and Dr SE Barnet transformed the space into a large pin-hole camera, and they are now developing it as a creative lab for making and exhibiting contemporary art.

Make It Count is the latest installment of Jane Watt and SE Barnet’s ongoing research project, Blast Radius, which centres around observing and recording the unique landscape at Orford Ness. As artists, historians, geographers and environmentalists, they work across disciplines and aim to challenge perceptions about the ever-changing landscape.

Visitors can experience the exhibition from Saturday 18 May-Sunday 27 October as part of their standard admission, which can be booked online.

Visitors in the distance exploring the 'Island' at Orford Ness National Nature Reserve, Suffolk

Book your visit

Please note you need to book tickets to Orford Ness. You can book for today up until 8am. Every Thursday time slots will be available for the next 14 days.