As part of the 25th anniversary of the National Trust opening it to visitors, Orford Ness National Nature Reserve in Suffolk has announced an expanded programme of events for 2020 to encourage visitors to discover more about this unique and intriguing landscape.
Building on the already well-established photography and writing workshops that have been successfully running on Orford Ness, the National Trust is working with several renowned artists to lead a number of workshops in 2020, as well as hosting an increased number of nature-inspired works.
The National Trust is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 and is encouraging visitors to enjoy the wellbeing and mindfulness benefits of the countryside. The events programme at Orford Ness reflects this and is urging visitors to venture onto Suffolk’s secret coast to discover its many advantages.
Photography workshops have been running on Orford Ness for over 10 years and these ever-popular tours will return in 2020, allowing photographers the chance to photograph areas of the site on a day usually closed to the public. Photographers will also have a rare opportunity to stay overnight to capture dusk and dawn over the coast on two workshops during the year.
New for 2020 Orford Ness will be running two camera skills courses. Aimed at those who want to take better photographs but who may be unfamiliar with the true potential of their cameras, this new workshop will teach the tricks of the trade in these inspirational surroundings.
For photography tour leader John Griffin, Orford Ness offers more than a quick snap opportunity. “With today’s highly advanced camera technology, anyone can take a picture of what Orford Ness looks like but our experienced photo tour team will help to engage you with the site at a deeper level so you can take pictures of what the place feels like,” he says.
Following a successful introduction in 2019, the National Trust is pleased to be hosting further writing workshops in 2020. Led by local landscape writer Liz Ferretti, two workshops are planned, each giving writers of all genres, and at all levels of their career, the chance to use the rich history and landscape of Orford Ness to inspire their work. In April, she will be joined by wildlife writer Edward Parnell to encourage writers to view the Ness from a birds-eye view while, later in the year, the long and disparate history of the Ness, in its anniversary year, will provide the starting point for another day of creative writing.
Having led the inaugural writers’ workshops last year, Liz Ferretti is looking forward to offering fresh inspiration in 2020. Encouraging writers to consider different viewpoints, Ferretti will be asking participants on the first workshop to consider the role of migrating birds on Orford Ness. “Seeing this extraordinary, 16-km shingle spit from the perspective of the birds that stop off here is a powerful space for writers to inhabit,” she explains.
Orford Ness is particularly excited to be introducing a range of art workshops this year. Working with local artists and tutors including Caroline Wright, Susan Barnet and Jane Watt, a programme of events will allow artists to engage with the exceptional landscape of Orford Ness using a variety of techniques. In an ever-increasing digital world, artists will be invited to turn off their digital devices and focus on the landscape around them. In a rare opportunity, artists will also have the opportunity to paint the sunrise over Orford Ness from the roof of the site’s bomb ballistics building and, in a further workshop, capture the vast expanse of Suffolk sky that this part of the coast excels in.
For artist Caroline Wright, the chance to develop art workshops on Orford Ness is exciting. “I’ve always been moved by the beauty of Orford Ness when I’ve visited, and it is a site that offers so much to inspire artists,” she said. “In a year when the National Trust is encouraging us to get outside and enjoy nature, what better time to capture this amazing environment through art?”
Away from the creative workshops, visitors to Orford Ness are being encouraged to learn more about the importance of the Ness in both historical and environmental terms. Early risers will have the opportunity to enjoy the tranquillity of early morning on the site with walks with one of the site’s Rangers, hearing about some of the surprising wildlife that calls Orford Ness home. Those more interested in the site’s long human history can join in a number of tours looking at the its intriguing past as a top-secret military test site, including - new for 2020 - a number of walking tours to the mysterious former Atomic Weapons Research Establishment area.
Glen Pearce, Visitor Experience Officer for Orford Ness, is excited by the new events programme. “2020 is a special year for Orford Ness with the dual anniversaries of the National Trust’s 125th birthday and the 25th anniversary of Orford Ness opening to the public,” he says. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer an expanded events programme in 2020 that will allow more visitors to enjoy and fall in love with the unique setting of Orford Ness.”
Tickets for all events are strictly limited and full details of dates and prices can be found on the Orford Ness website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/orfordness
Orford Ness is currently closed for the winter but reopens for its anniversary season on Good Friday.