Deception Island

Published by Sam Ruddock on

‘Utterly amazing, immersive, revelatory’

Martin Ungless, Audience, Norwich
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.

‘Experience is an overused word. However, THIS IS THE WAY to experience a story’

Caryl, Audience, Norwich

Deception Island summons 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

Step Inside the Deception Island hut


Audience and Critical Response

‘An amazing wonderful experience!! The sound of the wind – all so atmospheric! I Loved the hut!!’ Audience member, Norwich

‘A brilliant immersive poetry film installation’ Wendy Ellis, Norwich Theatre

‘If you do nothing else go to Deception Island! Watch ‘the dark sea curl back its lips’ and listen to the power of poetry. Ingenious and impressive’ Sarah Passingham

‘What a gorgeous thing’ Sarah Perry

‘[a] unique and wonderful experience. It really felt I was there.’ Audience, Cambridge

‘A stunning, immersive experience that carries you thousands of miles from Millennium Plain to the Antarctic wilds, and reminds you of everything we have to lose if we don’t take better care of our planet’ Sarah Bower

‘Transporting and very powerful’ Audience, Norwich

‘Beauty can be found in the most unexpected places.’ Audience, Cambridge

‘Voices soar and hold bodies – a mesmerising journey today’ Andrea Holland

‘Luscious, moving, beautiful! Thank you’ James; Audience, Norwich

‘Thanks for this amazing travel through space and time’ Audience, Cambridge

‘So moving. Where science and poetry meet’ Audience, Norwich

‘Very cool. Very moving. Very powerful.’ Audience, Cambridge

‘Sound, pictures, and words come together to form something amazing’ Audience, Norwich

‘What a wonderful experience! An absolute privilege to be here’ Beta; Audience, Norwich

‘Wow! Such an amazing experience!’ Audience, Norwich


Deception Island Creative Team

Written by Elizabeth Lewis Williams
Directed by Sam Ruddock and Elizabeth Lewis Williams
Produced by Story Machine
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
Delivered in collaboration with UK Antarctic Heritage Trust

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



Deception Island – The Book

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