b-side festival 2014 attracts over 12,000 visitors

This year’s b-side festival attracted over 12,000 visitors to contemporary arts events on Portland. The festival takes place every other year in Weymouth & Portland and began during the lead up to the London 2012 sailing events in Weymouth. More than 30 artists took part in this year’s Festival, which included a lullaby delivered by bike, art at the bus stop, a seaside puppet show with a twist, stories engraved on café cutlery, and a debate with a rabbit on Portland.

b-side Executive Director Alan Rogers said:

“I feel proud that b-side is one of the lasting successes of the Cultural Olympiad. We were part of some great events during the Olympic period and I believe that we helped to create a real appetite for the arts in Weymouth & Portland. b-side offers temporary experiences and often accidental encounters with art; big events to celebrate but also quiet moments to reflect. It feels as though this year’s festival has had an even more profound effect on local people and it’s attracted lots of visitors to the island too.”

This year’s visitor numbers for b-side are in excess of those during the Olympic year, and feedback from local people and visitors to the island has praised the work of the artists taking part. 

Cllr Sandy West, Borough Councillor for Underhill said:

“b-side changed the whole way I felt about Art, It was whacky, thought provoking, breathtaking and fantastic…Portland was put on the map and showed that we are not just a cream tea and a visit to Portland Bill to see the lighthouse.”

Visitor Nikki Fryer said:

“The sound installation greatly touched many people who heard it and most shared their joy and appreciation when they came out of the church. It was a privilege to share their personal stories and reflections, Duncan has managed to touch the lives of Portland past and present though his work and through the sound piece give joy, comfort, inspiration and creative thought to those who listen.”

This year, for the first time, artists worked on the island in the year before the festival took place. b-side takes an alternative view of the location, and by basing themselves on Portland, the artists were able to spend periods of time researching the area, collecting ideas and getting to know local people who were able to contribute to many of the artworks created.

In Everybody’s Auditorium, Tom Marshman shared memories of people who have sponsored a seat at The Royal Manor Theatre. He worked with local residents, drawing on their lives and thoughts to create this new theatre piece.

An ordinary house was transformed into a moving exhibition space when Ellie Harrison & Roshana Rubin-Mayhew presented a series a photographs and recordings of people each talking about an object they inherited from someone who has died.

Daniel Jones and James Bulley’s Variable 4 landscape sound work translated data from Portland Bill’s weather station into musical patterns. Every aspect of the music, from broad harmonic progressions to individual notes and timbres, was influenced by changes in the environment including wind speed, rainfall, solar radiation, humidity, tropospheric variance and temperature. The work was so popular that visitors were asking for it to remain after the festival.

Festival Producer, Sandy Kirkby said:

“We’ve been so inspired by the work of this year’s artists and by the hugely positive response from local people and visitors. We’re already thinking about how we can create something even more impressive, moving and meaningful for our next Festival in two years time.”

Earlier this year, b-side had its status renewed as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. Phil Gibby, Arts Council England’s Director for the South West said:

 “The success of this year’s b-side festival has its roots in the exploration and celebration of Portland’s cultural history, ecology and geology as well as its local community.

“The festival really embedded artists into the fabric of the island, showing work that was challenging, unique, moving and focused on a sense of place and identity. “We are pleased to support b-side’s festival and look forward to seeing it develop."


Catch some of the festival's highlights here www.b-side.org.uk