Festival 2023 Artists Reveal


 b-side is an internationally recognised arts festival that is led by the love of local. Taking place on the extraordinary Isle of Portland, b-side welcomes curious wanderers and arts-obsessed regulars to its 11th year. The festival will take place on Dorset’s best kept secret from Thursday 7th – Sunday 10th September.

Driven by an abundant community of creative locals, b-side is a buzzing hub of talent from Portland’s shores and beyond. The festival provides a platform for global artists today and seeks out the art scene’s most exciting newcomers. The interactive tour around this distinctive part of the UK explores its heritage through each artist, year after year.

Rocca Holly Nambi, Director of b-side states: “We are delighted to share the culmination of our two-year programme, This Land, at b-side’s 2023 festival. Residents of Portland have been working with national and international artists to excavate knowledge and acquire new skills to protect, preserve and propose new futures for natural and built heritage sites on our unique Isle of Portland. Together we are celebrating what community building and contemporary art can do for the places we live, visit, and love.”

The theme for this year culminates in four newly commissioned artworks which focus on the intriguing history and heritage of Portland’s land. With land protection at the forefront, This Land focuses on two fragile and unique natural and built heritage sites identified as at risk: the last remaining area of original Portland landscape at Portland Bill and the ruins of a Tudor cottage, Brandy Row on the seafront at Chiswell. Funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, community-led research has inspired artists to create work that highlights the potential future of these sites as well as their story’s connection to wider global challenges. The Heritage Fund proudly supports thousands of heritage projects across the UK thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.

Each artist commissioned by b-side interprets the story of Portland; the unique landscapes intertwined with perspectives of newcomers and generations of Portlanders. Taking on the theme, and their very first time at b-side, are prolific digital artists Heinrich & Palmer. Their multi-media installations and striking interventions respond to architectural sites. Each piece blurs the boundaries between real and virtual space utilising light, material and audio. Their commission for b-side 2023 explores a building’s permanence versus impermanence through the medium of film, sound and digital imagery. Having also immersed themselves in Brandy Row for over a year, Anna Heinrich and Leon Palmer plan to use cutting edge technology to analyse cottages once inhabited by fishermen and quarrymen. Currently used as stores, the future of the site is uncertain as it fights against deterioration and rising environmental concerns.

Wildworks are the UK’s leading landscape theatre company behind innovative deep dives into beaches and woodlands, disused quarries, and everything in-between. Their unconventional theatre work is situated, quite literally, anywhere but the theatre. For b-side 2023, Wildworks are creating a new piece entitled Uncommon Land. Their view of Portland’s unique landscape will be shared through workshops, local stories, and interactive experiences.

After 18 months of in-depth research and engagement, the artist duo Kneed will be returning to Portland this year. Kneed, comprised of Ishwari Bhalerao and Leonie Rousham, will be creating The Weather or Not Station. The portable DIY radio station is made up of anecdotes, conversations, rumours and diary entries that represent the heart of Portland.

London-based artist Emily Tracy will be showcasing a new artwork created by many hands at the Portland Bird Observatory. Emily collaborates with life through collage, objects and research. This year, her piece explores the 60 years of close observation of Portland skies undertaken by The Portland Bird Observatory and its dedicated voluntary birdwatchers. This new artwork aims to spark conversation and understanding of the rich, entangled ecology that exists in ‘The Last Landscape’.

Set to become the go-to hive of radical, forward-thinking activity, b-side festival welcomes art-lovers from across the country to honour Portland’s cherished land.

The full programme and artist line-up for b-side 2023 Festival will be confirmed later this year.

“We are delighted to support the b-side festival project, which thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will mean that more people can learn about the exciting heritage right on their doorstep at Portland Bill and Brandy Row. Heritage has a huge role to play in instilling pride in communities and boosting local economies, and this project is a fantastic example of achieving those aims.”

  • Stuart McLeod, Director England – London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund