Longshore Drift is a short film by Jane Watt and SE Barnet that places the viewer within the overwhelming, precarious, ever-changing and remote landscape of Orford Ness on the Suffolk east coast. Through still and moving image, drawing and sound recording, the artists explore centuries of shifting coastline; of accretion and erosion of land; military and maritime buildings lost to the sea; and undulating disruptions of artificial attempts to shape the landscape.

The site of the former lighthouse is a primary locus and vantage point from which to encounter the dramatic impact of landscape in flux. Evidence of the lighthouse, the eleventh on the Ness to be lost to coastal erosion, is captured through the artists’ new footage as well as archival imagery taken before its demolition in 2020. Radiating out from this point the film looks at the lines of shingle ridges, an inaccurate measurement and visual record, confounding linear progression across millennia.

Longshore Drift was made at University of Suffolk for the British Art Network Landscape Research Group supported by funding from Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Tate and Arts Council England. This is the first project the artists have made as part of Blast Radius an ongoing project that explores ways in which to bring together specialists in art, heritage and environmental science to explore a range of environments.

Image Credit: Image 6: William Card