Inside Out, Festival, Dorset, TotalNtertainment

Inside Out Festival returns to Dorset 2021

Inside Out Dorset when international and home-grown art animates and illuminates some of the county’s finest landscapes.

Inside Out Dorset 2021

Rural and coastal locations are transformed by magical art and performance in Dorset’s biennial outdoor festival 

Awe-inspiring sculpture hidden in a working forest, international circus on a Georgian seafront, new performance and sound installations in ancient woodland and more

Friday 17 to Sunday 26 September

Two weekends in early autumn see the return of Inside Out Dorset when international and home-grown art animates and illuminates some of the county’s finest landscapes. Festival producers Activate have curated an inventive programme with themes of sustainability, land use and lifecycles, human and environmental.

This year’s locations are Moors Valley Country Park and Forest in East Dorset, one of the county’s most popular tourist attractions, the iconic seaside towns of Poole, Christchurch and Weymouth, and the ancient woods and farmland of the Symondsbury Estate in West Dorset. 

The Festival opens on 17 September with installation artist Luke Jerram’s monumental 3D model of planet Earth Gaia, hidden in the pine forests of Moors Valley. Seven metres in diameter, the internally-lit sculpture features detailed NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface. Immersed in a surround sound composition by BAFTA award winner Dan Jones, the artwork provides the opportunity to see our planet floating in three dimensions. Gaia also acts as the location for a series of related talks and events.  It remains on site until 19 September before moving to the woodlands of the Symondsbury Estate for the Festival’s final weekend on 24 to 26 September.

Also at Moors Valley from 17 to 19 September is Karen Wimhurst and Ed Bursey’s audio artwork, No Going Back, which combines voices and music to explore climate change in the pandemic world. The artists asked people about their priorities, what they loved and what they can let go of.

Elsewhere in the county, the Festival’s opening weekend sees a programme of family-friendly and free circus, performance and dance at Poole on 18 September and Christchurch on 19 September: Cirque RouagesBoate combines fabulous acrobatics with a powerful political message; Mimbre’s Lifted is a collaboration with three guest choreographers, Gary Clarke, Yi-Chun Liu and HURyCAN; La Barronade is brass band Les Grooms’ promenade show about happiness; part-installation part-performance Upswing’s Catch Me is an intimate and surprising take on age and gender; and Serving Sounds is an immersive new installation from Duck Rabbit Penguin. In Poole only will be Isobel Jobbins’ self-guided walking tour The Collective Memory Archive. Christchurch has two dance events Fingerprint Dance’s new work and Dorset Youth Dance’s Tess, inspired by Hardy’s classic novel.

On 24 and 25 September, night-time parade show Sense of Unity comes to the seafront at Weymouth. Two of Europe’s most in-demand outdoor arts companies Germany’s Dundu and England’s Worldbeaters have collaborated to create a fusion of visual spectacle and raucous live music. Worldbeaters’ high-energy drummers beat out a soundtrack inspired by world rhythms set against the West African kora sound world of Dundu. They 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. 

On this final weekend from 24 to 26 September, Symondsbury Estate is the setting for this year’s artwork trail with works which explore climate change and the future use of land. The trail includes premieres from three exceptional creators of outdoor art – Red Herring and Dorset-based Dave Young and Lorna Rees.

At a time when bird species and many human languages are dying out, Red Herring’s Whistlers explores birdsong, dialects and extinction. For this installation and series of performances in the woods, Red Herring works with a wildlife expert and Dorset-based participants to add local bird song to European birdsong collected from earlier performance locations. Audiences are invited to enter the curious world of the Whistler Conservation Society.

Dave Young creates and performs as The Shouting Mute. For The Climate Emergency and People: What Happens? he has interviewed local farmers, walkers, land managers, foresters and riders about their relationship to the landscape and their views on climate change and created a poem from every story. In an installation created from natural and upcycled materials plays a soundscape of the poems, verbatim recordings from the interviews and Young’s own prose. 

Lorna Rees of Gobbledegook Theatre responds to the landscape at Symondsbury with Geophonic, a joyful performance piece and sound walk to encourage 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 will be 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.

Drake Music is the UK’s leading organisation working in music, disability and technology. Their sound walk Planted Symphony, guided by an app triggered by the audience’s GPS, entwines songs, sounds and stories about nature and gardens.

Also part of the trail are French company Les Quat’ fers en l’air with their gravity-defying aerial duet Gravir, alongside home-grown talent Dorset Youth Dance, The Remix West, Movers and Shakers and RISE Youth Dance from Bristol, Sophie Fretwell’s The Light House, a new work from Fingerprint Dance; Dorset AONB’s Talking Tent and Luke Jerram’s Gaia shown here in a very different landscape.

Running alongside the Festival is a far-reaching engagement project with schools and community groups. Primary school children will visit the Festival sites to experience art and nature. Creative leaders will go into secondary schools and colleges to talk about careers in the arts. There will also be creative family activities and summer workshops in community centres and libraries.

Kate Wood, executive director of Activate and co-artistic director of Inside Out Dorset with Bill Gee, says: “After the past year, we are looking forward to bringing audiences together this September to create some memorable shared experiences. We have worked hard to make sure that we are able to come back together safely and enjoy the exceptional artistic work that these artists have created. The programme has moments of joy and surprise that will encourage us all to think about how we can look after this fragile earth. We are so pleased to make this announcement on World Earth Day.

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