I’ve had the pleasure of visiting two islands this last week, walking across Orford Ness and around Lindisfarne (Holy Island). The latter will appear in a second blog. Although art was not my primary objective on either, it cropped up.
Orford Ness in Suffolk is not, strictly-speaking, an island. It is a long peninsula of marine-deposited pebbles stretching south from just beyond the martello tower outside Aldeburgh, where it is only 10m or so wide and there is no public access. It widens to 2-3kms before attenuating again to a constantly changing southern tip off Shingle St. But it behaves like an island, you have to use the National Trust ferry to reach it, and being on it is like being on an island.
There are all sorts of reasons for wanting to be there: on this occasion, my objective was the lighthouse on the far, eastern side, some 4 kms from Orford quay. And my reason for wanting to see it was to compare its state now with its state on previous visits for, as we are repeatedly remarking along the East Anglian coast, it is so threatened by erosion that it is likely to collapse in the very near future.
In fact, its position is parlous: the sea has almost reached its base despite the netted stone baffles that the volunteer trust which is trying to delay the inevitable has recently heaped along the 0.5m drop from turf to pebble beach (photo 1 below, looking north). Dramatically, the brick septic tanks serving the lighthouse have been completely exposed, a sight never envisaged as being seen as their very coarse mortar pointing loudly proclaims (ph.2, looking south). I duly photographically recorded the situation for my own curiosity’s sake, while at the same time looking for possible artistic angles in the bright, sharp sunlight with shots which might at some time or other contribute to a painting (exemplified by phs. 3 & 4, the last with structures just south of the lighthouse):