Deception Island

Published by Sam Ruddock on

Step inside an exact replica of an Antarctic hut and be transported to Deception Island, a tiny caldera in the Antarctic Ocean. Battered by the fiercest seas in the world and shaken by volcanic activity. Here the rusting remains of industrial whaling and a seabed littered with whalebones testify to mankind’s greed and brutality. But the island is also an outpost of scientific exploration, a witness to human attentiveness and fortitude.

This brand-new poetry installation from Story Machine and Elizabeth Lewis Williams will summon a remote frontier where climate and months of winter darkness impose a kind of perpetual lockdown. 

As the ship carrying the author’s father edges through the basalt cliffs into the calmer waters of Deception Island, the island’s many voices, human and non-human, begin to speak.

Prepare to embark on an immersive poetry, sound and film expedition like nothing you have been on before.

Deception Island is presented by Story Machine in collaboration with Elizabeth Lewis Williams. It is delivered in partnership with British Antarctic Survey, UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, and Norwich Science Festival. It is funded by Arts Council England.

Supported Using

The Reclus Hut at Portal Point

We are working with conservation carpenter and heritage project expert Geoff Cooper to design an exact replica of the Reclus Hut at Portal Point (photo below). Geoff is an expert in historic restoration and has worked with both the New Zealand and UK Antarctic Heritage Trusts.

The hut is being built in Wymondham by Peter Beck.

Deception Island Creative Team

Written by Elizabeth Lewis Williams
Directed by Sam Ruddock
Produced by Sam Ruddock and Elizabeth Lewis Williams
Sound Design by Jenni Pinnock
Film by Mark Hannant
Hut plans developed by Geoff Cooper
Hut built by Peter Beck
Archive material provided by British Antarctic Survey

Voice Artists

Narrator – Alasdair Baker
Witch – Elizabeth Lewis Williams
Whale – Gillian Dean
Rock – Sam Heydon
Ocean – Elspeth Latimer
Glacier – Richard Ashwell
Scientists – Crawford Blair, James Ducker, Ian Williams
Whalers – Crawford Blair, Sam Heydon

About Elizabeth Lewis Williams

Elizabeth Lewis Williams is a Norwich based writer and teacher.  Currently Writer in Residence at the British Antarctic Survey, and part of the team bringing ‘Deception Island’ to life as an immersive installation in a replica Antarctic hut, She is an advocate for the importance of writing and storytelling in education, and for the way in which an understanding of human engagement in Antarctica can deepen our understanding of our place on the planet. After many years spent teaching in schools, she completed an MA, followed by a PhD, in Creative Writing at the UEA where she is currently an Associate Tutor; she is also engaged in a variety of outreach projects.  ‘Deception Island’ is her first book length publication.

Instagram: elizabethlewiswilliams
Twitter: @elewiswilliams

See Deception Island

Deception Island will premiere at Norwich Science Festival in October 2021.

Deception Island Installation

Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF
Cost: £5 per person
Running time: 30 minutes
Book tickets at

Saturday 23rd October10am, 10.40am, 11.20am, 12pm, 12.40pm, 1.20pm
Sunday 24th – Friday 29th OctoberOn the hour from 10am – 7pm
Saturday 30th OctoberOn the hour from 10am – 3pm

Deception Island Launch Talk

Join poet Elizabeth Lewis Williams, Professor of Creative Writing at UEA Jean McNeil, filmmaker Mark Hannant, composer Jenni Pinnock, and producer Sam Ruddock for a discussion and Q&A about all things Antarctica.

Saturday 23rd October 2021
Church of St Peter Mancroft
Hay Hill, Norwich, NR2 1QQ
Book tickets at


Exploring the Sound Archives workshops

Join poet Elizabeth Lewis Williams and sound experts from Norfolk Record Office to explore some of the treasures of the British Antarctic Survey archives.

From penguin recordings to reminiscences of Antarctic scientists and explorers, you’ll discover a rich mix of voices, and create a found poem from what you hear.

Cost: £10
Book tickets at

Sunday 24th October 2-4.30pmNorfolk & Norwich Millennium Library
Wednesday 27th October6.30-8pmSir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, Bethel Street
Saturday 30th October1-3.30pmSir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, Bethel Street

Presented in partnership with Norfolk Record Office.

Lean Fall Stand /_ | with Jon McGregor

In 2004, Jon McGregor set out for a small field hut in the Antarctic, as part of a writing residency supported by the British Antarctic Survey. He never made it there, and spent the next seventeen years trying to write a novel about the experience. 

In Lean Fall Stand, a team of Antarctic researchers face a crisis on the ice. When one of them comes home with his language shattered, his wife faces a crisis at home.

Jon McGregor invites you to join him in the Deception Island hut to hear about his journey south and the limits of language. He’ll read fragments from his novel, show you the slides from his journey, and put on a brew. Just remember to wrap up warm.  

Millennium Plain, Norwich, NR2 1TF
Cost: £5 per person
Running time: 20 minutes
Book tickets at

Wednesday 28th October 202112.40pm, 1.40pm, 5.40pm, 6.40pm
Thursday 29th October 202112.40pm, 1.40pm, 5.40pm, 6.40pm

Presented in partnership with 4th Estate.

Deception Island – The Book

Deception Island will be published by Story Machine in October 2021. More information will be available soon.