Taking place at various locations around the extraordinary Isle of Portland from September 7-10, b-side welcomes curious wanderers and arts-obsessed regulars with a love for the new, creative and different. This internationally recognised arts festival showcases a buzzing hub of talent from Portland’s shores and beyond. Now in its 11th year, it provides a platform for established global artists as well as seeking out the art scene’s most exciting newcomers to explore this Dorset landscape’s unique heritage in a multitude of fascinating ways. 

This year's programme, featuring 23 different events, includes four newly commissioned artworks. Inspired by this year’s theme of This Land, they all focus on the intriguing history and heritage of Portland’s land. For example, digital artists Heinrich & Palmer have drawn inspiration from a derelict Portland stone Tudor cottage located at the southern end of Brandy Row in Chiswell, formerly inhabited by fishermen and quarrymen. Their multi-media film installation Entry (pictured) uses cutting edge 3D laser technology that blurs the boundaries between real and virtual space and the ebb and flow of community life.

Complementing this new commission is Weather or Not Station Broadcast where artist duo Kneed have collaborated with young people, island experts, and the people of Portland, gathering memories, stories, rumours and imaginations of the past, present, future ‘weather’ surrounding Brandy Row. As with Entry, this runs throughout the festival.

From Fringe events and immersive audio experiences to art workshops and walking performances through a quarried landscape, as always b-side inspires, intrigues and instigates conversation about this unique area. The festival concludes with the Portland Parade (September 17). With its theme of 'Keep Portland Weird and Wonderful', it celebrates this isle’s amazing biodiversity and sets off from Easton Square Garden at 4pm.

Find the full programme at b-side.org.uk. Follow on Instagram @bsidefestival; Twitter/ Facebook @bsidefest

Great British Life: The film Rafts. (Photo: Rory Pilgrim)The film Rafts. (Photo: Rory Pilgrim)

Rory Pilgrim: Activism through film 

Turner Prize-nominated filmmaker Rory Pilgrim is screening two of his films which explore climate crisis and its impact on individuals. Centred on emancipatory concerns, Bristol-born Pilgrim aims to challenge the nature of how we come together, speak, listen and strive for social change through sharing and voicing personal experience. In an age of increasing technological interaction, Pilgrim is highlighting connections between activism, spirituality, music and how we form community locally and globally at b-side as a buzzing hub of local talent. The Undercurrent 2019 (pictured) is a deep dive into how the climate crisis relates to support structures in our everyday lives. It follows a group of young climate activists in Boise, Idaho exploring how climate change interconnects with other aspects of their lives including family, religion, friendship, fighting for gender equality and the essential need of a home. Following this is Rafts 2022, the second chapter of Pilgrim’s work. In moments of change and transition, what supports us and keeps us afloat - a raft, the simplest and most fragile vehicle of survival on open water. Created during lockdown, Rafts is a concert broadcast that interweaves stories, poetry and reflections around a seven-song oratorio.

Screened at Royal Manor Theatre, Fortuneswell, September 7-10, 11am-5pm

Great British Life: Emily Tracy has been inspired by the Portland Bird Observatory. ( Photo: Emily Tracy)Emily Tracy has been inspired by the Portland Bird Observatory. ( Photo: Emily Tracy)

Emily Tracy: Constant Effort 

Fascinated by the work of Portland Bird Observatory, Emily Tracy’s 2023 commission for b-side, Constant Effort, has been co-created with Portland locals. It is a visualisation of the important scientific recording and logging done at the observatory since 1962 by local birdwatchers. This includes data spanning 60 years, produced by daily sightings meticulously collected at the Observatory. It also reflects their stewardship of 27 acres of surrounding land, managed with the aim of attracting birds (this location is often the first and last landfall for migrating birds), and increasing the biodiversity of ‘The Last Landscape at The Bill’. The data represents many things. It reveals Portland Bill as a microcosm of what is happening to birds and wildlife nationally, and globally. It tracks the rise and fall of species which inhabit The Bill. It also represents people, the birdwatchers that have spent hours collectively amassing this invaluable resource of numbers. Tracy’s art installation visualises some of this data, incorporating images of birds (pictured), moths, flora and fauna found on Portland. Constant Effort also attempts to start conversation, to explore and celebrate this data, and its collection through the presentation of a visual snapshot of species sightings.

Portland Bird Observatory, September 7-10, 11am –6pm (last entry 5.30pm)

Great British Life: Watch a pedal powered screening with Electric Pedals. (Photo: Coin Tonk)Watch a pedal powered screening with Electric Pedals. (Photo: Coin Tonk)

Pedal-Powered Cinema 

Enjoy, and take part in, this bike-powered cinema screening (above) of the animation classic Belleville Rendez Vous, all about the Tour de France, in the cliff top gardens of Pennsylvania Castle with Electric Pedals. September 7, 8.15pm

Great British Life: UnCommon Land. (Photo: Wildworks)UnCommon Land. (Photo: Wildworks)

UnCommon Land 

Wildworks, the UK's leading landscape theatre company, has created a new Portland ritual inspired by ancient beginnings, seasons and symbolism (above). Gather at the Lobster Pot Café at dusk to experience the landscape like never before. September 8-10, 7pm