This September, there’ll be two weekends of outdoor art and performances in Dorset for the Inside Out festival. The event is set to animate Dorset’s rural and coastal landscapes with installations, pop-up musical shows, art trails and acrobatics.
The festival begins on 17th September at the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest. Here you’ll find artist Luke Jerram’s awe-inspiring 3D model of planet Earth, Gaia. It’ll be located, rather wonderfully, in the Tree Top Trail. Gaia lets you see our planet floating in three dimensions, recreating an astronaut’s experience of seeing Earth from space for the first time.
Alongside this, there’ll be plenty of Gaia-inspired events over the weekend. Future Forest is a drop-in exhibition by students at Arts University Bournemouth. Their work reflects on sustainability, ethics, accessibility and inclusivity. It includes an In Conversation with former Forestry England writer-in-residence Zakiya McKenzie, and poet and writer Louisa Adjoa Parker who is a writer of English-Ghanaian heritage now living in the South West of England. They’ll discuss their work and the influence the natural world has on their creative process.
Opening weekend events
So, what else can you see over the first weekend? There’s a new audio artwork from artists Karen Wimhurst and Ed Bersey called No Going Back 1. It focuses on the accelerating dangers of climate change in the pandemic world. They’ve sculpted a compelling soundtrack from original music and voices of diverse people talking about their changing priorities, what they love and what they can let go of.
And there’ll be some unusual performances popping up over the weekend. In Angel Exit Theatre’s The Gallycrows two climate refugees appear as if from nowhere, carrying what looks like the world on their backs. Instruments of Joy will see musician Tim Hill and his band of roving troubadours promenading their mini brass band and bringing musical joy to all who chance upon them.
An art trail with a difference
And how about discovering some artwork trails with some circus and dance thrown in? Head to Poole Quay and Lower High Street on Saturday 18th September or The Quomps on Christchurch Quay on Sunday 19th September.
Watch 2Faced Dance Company’s energetic, funny and thoughtful Last Orders. It sees four strangers meet in a pub. Thrown together, they find out what connects them by exploring their differences. And Pif-Paf’s wonderfully family-friendly SEED takes us through a day in the life of Wilford and his potting shed on wheels. This poetic and surprising show reminds us that from little acorns grow great oaks. Or catch seven-piece outfit King Brass as they bring their brilliant set, inspired by the sounds of New Orleans, to the streets of Poole.
These works join Mimbre’s acrobatic Lifted, and Upswing’s intimate part-installation and part-performance Catch Me. As well as The Working Boys Club’s immersive new installation Serving Sounds, and Heidi Steller’s ‘make and do’ activity tent Summer of Love.
In Poole, you’ll find Isobel Jobbins’ self-guided walking tour The Collective Memory Archive. Whilst in Christchurch you can see Fingerprint Dance’s performance about the impact of rising sea temperatures in Two and a Half; and Dorset Youth Dance, Remix East, Coast and Co-Evo’s Tess.
Parades, music and dance
The following weekend promises to be just as exciting and vibrant. Luke Jerram’s Gaia will move to the woodlands at the Symondsbury Estate near Bridport, and of course there’ll be more eclectic performances taking place.
Join the artwork trail at Symondsbury with Becky Namgauds’ contemporary dance show Rodadoras. Set to an original score inspired by Neapolitan folk music and performed in a bed of soil, it’s a rhythmical jig of expressive dance. Plus, an extended version of Karen Bersey and Ed Wimhurst’s audio artwork No Going Back 2 will play in the grass bowl.
Also part of the trail, you can see Angel Exit Theatre’s The Gallycrows, Fingerprint Dance’s Two and a Half, Dorset Youth Dance’s collaboration, Tess, and Dorset AONB’s Talking Tent. At the heart of this trail are three new commissions from three outdoor art creators: Dave, The Shouting Mute, Red Herring and Lorna Rees.
Art and nature events
Dave, The Shouting Mute’s Partnering with Earth is a performance poetry installation which asks ‘If the Earth could speak, what would it say?’ Dave interviewed scientists, conservationists, activists and land workers about their relationship to the land and their thoughts on climate change for the basis of the poems. These will be read by a live cast including several Disabled performers and artists.
Meanwhile, Red Herring’s Whistlers follows a fictitious tribe of remote bird-loving humans as they explore the language and communication of birdsong and dialects. It’s an installation and series of performances in the woods.
And Lorna Rees’ Geophonic responds to the landscape of the Symondsbury Estate. It tells the story of rock and how it’s literally the bedrock of our lives. This joyful performance piece and sound walk encourages people to listen to the geological processes of the earth. Using recycled plastic geophones, audiences stop to listen at various points on a guided journey. Some of the sonic content is naturally occurring, some made by human voice, and some with augmented sound and music. Geophonic is about recognising how geology shapes our landscape and remembering that humans are part of nature too.
In Weymouth’s Radipole Park Gardens is Planted Symphony. It’s a new audio trail by Drake Music, the UK’s leading organisation working in music, disability and technology. Created by a team of Disabled and non-disabled musicians, poets, storytellers and artists, Planted Symphony tells the tale of a herbalist who uses the natural world to heal, grow and transform. Pop on some headphones and use your senses to follow her story told through spoken word and song lyrics with voice, strings and percussion. If you’re D/deaf or hard of hearing, there will be Subpacs available to translate sound into vibration, and hearing aid compatible over-ear headphones.
Night-time parade show
Weymouth seafront is the setting for the Inside Out festival’s climax. Here, a night-time parade show called Sense of Unity will bring a mix of visual spectacle and raucous live music. It’s created by two of Europe’s most in-demand outdoor arts companies: Germany’s Dundu and England’s Worldbeaters.
Worldbeaters’ high-energy drummers will beat out a soundtrack inspired by world rhythms, set against the West African kora sound world of Dundu. They’ll lead the procession in search of charming Baby Dundu, who in turn takes them to find gentle Giant Dundu. Handled and steered through the crowd by a team of five puppeteers, the puppets’ transparent flexible bodies are lit from inside, illuminating them against the darkening evening sky.
In the run up to this spectacular event, local puppet-making workshops have been taking place. The result of this is more than 100 puppets on display in shops all over Weymouth and Portland. So keep an eye out for those right now!
If you can’t make it to Dorset this September, then head over here to discover more quirky festivals.
When: 17th – 26th September 2021
Where: At locations across Dorset
More info: activateperformingarts.org.uk