The Shingle Spit at Orford Ness and Anya Gallaccio

 

‘Most people collect something or other: stamps, butterflies, beetles, moths, dried and pressed wild flowers, old snuff-boxes, china dogs and so forth. A few eccentrics even collect disused bus tickets! But collectors of pebbles are rare.’ The Pebbles on the Beach, Clarence Ellis

Orford Ness 052

On Saturday I headed out to the Suffolk Coast on my first adventure for the wonderful online journal The Learned Pig. The Pig, with one interest for each of it’s legs, spans poetic subjects across art, thinking, nature and writing. My three trains to the (surely Saxon?!) Saxmundham, a single taxi to the Snape Maltings, a minibus to Orford, and then a ferry ride – all led me to Orford Ness for Anya Gallaccio SNAP commission as part of the Aldeburgh Festival. You can read my piece on Gallaccio’s installations and the enchanting, fragile ecology of surreal Orford Ness here, in the Story of a Single Rock.

Orford Ness 114

Here’s a little extract from the piece to tempt you:

‘Like many stories, this one begins with a rock, in fact one rock amongst many: the shifting shingle which geographically defines and continually redefines the salt marshes of Orford Ness. When contemporary artist Anya Gallaccio made her first trip to the shingle spit of the Ness, it was not the accidental sculptures of wire and curled sheet metal (rusted by salt-winds) which captured her imagination, but the stony beach desert on which they lie, abandoned like military driftwood.

When we arrive for SNAP on the National Trust ferry out to the Ness, our faces glittering with salt water spray, Gallaccio recalls the illicit exchange of a bag of shingle in Fortnum and Mason, miles away from the flat-lining whistle of the Suffolk coast. Back in the Snape Maltings a photograph records the forbidden transaction: a plastic bag of assorted rocks tied up with a paper label: “For Anya Gallaccio”.’

Orford Ness 118

The day involved the unlocking and discovery of stories from a whole host of interesting characters, both local and alien, so I hope to find a place for some of these moments elsewhere, and at another time. For now enjoy the accidental sculpture of some shingle and pulled up Yellow Horned Poppies:

Orford Ness 135

Advertisements
1 comment
  1. Ronald Duk said:

    Your article was very helpful in my quest for the true name of a village in one of the P.G. Wodehouse short stories, the second one in the book “The Man Upstairs and Other Stories”. I’m pretty sure now that village, Millbourne, must be Orford and your article shows what the heroin stood on in the first sentence of the story: “A girl stood on the shingle that fringes Millbourne Bay, gazing at the red roofs of the little village across the water.” As I’m translating the story into Dutch, and in that language you need different names for different kinds of shingle, a look at is almost a prerequisite.
    The report of my search for the Millbourne-in-real-live will be published in the next volume of ‘Nothing Serious’, the journal of the Dutch P.G. Wodehouse Society.
    By the way, the Learned Pig and it’s four legs could have been a journal appearing in Wodehouse stories and be completely made-up by him.

    Yours sincerely,
    Ronald Duk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: