b-side has been awarded funding from The Heritage Lottery Sharing Heritage fund to work with artist Laura Hopes on a film and publication celebrating the history of the Portland Stadium. The majestic site of the Stadium, closed to the public, is monumental and surprising in its scale. Hidden from view in a former quarry, and behind locked gates near to the present day YOI, the site is unknown to many. Many will remember her astonishing sound installation during b-side Festival 2018 which featured the deafening roar of 5000 invisible football supporters emanating from the surrounding trees where once the terraces stood. The event was popular, emotional and awe inspiring.
“Absolutely fantastic. Totally unexpected was the sheer scale of the wall of sound around the whole enclosed field. Really felt immersed in a football stadium without the people! Wonderful concept so well enacted. Wonderful experience. Thank you”
Comment from Festival 2018 visitor
The football theme was a natural fit for the site as it was regularly used until the nineties by residents of the YOI on Portland, and in fact was converted to that purpose (from quarry pit to sports stadium) by their forebears, in the 1930s, under the guidance of a Borstal PT instructor, Burt Bridges. Laura was struck by the grandeur and emptiness of the site – known as the Bowl, in comparison with its heyday, filled with cheering fans, and this seemed to reflect the stories of those that used to play there. She wanted to reanimate the site, and turn this slightly forlorn corner into an exciting, awe-inspiring and dramatic place to be.
Laura is currently working towards a publication and film celebrating the installation piece and will be recording conversations with visitors to the installation who had memories of the site and indicated that they were willing to share these on film. In addition, she has conducted interviews with current residents of the YOI and is collaborating with Professor Rosie Meek, whose research centres upon the rehabilitative power of sport behind bars. Laura aims to uncover the incredible archives of the Grove Prison Museum with the support of Jon Hutton, a former Borstal Officer and share them within the publication and film.