Inside Out Dorset 2021

Event Date: Friday 17 – Sunday 26 September 2021

Celebrating a summer like no other, biennial international arts festival Inside Out Dorset returns this month with a joyous programme of free to attend art installations and performances in extraordinary locations.

Running over two weekends from 17 to 26 September, hosted by Dorchester-based outdoor arts producer Activate, Inside Out Dorset opens with Luke Jerram’s astonishing installation Gaia at Moors Valley Country Park and Forest where the seven-metre scale model of Earth will nestle overhead on the Tree Top Trail. Made using NASA photography, it offers an out-of-this-world opportunity to see our planet as an astronaut would view it from space, prompting thoughts about climate change and humanity’s effect on the planet.

“There’s something uniquely inspiring about seeing Gaia presented like this in the heart of a working forest,” say Inside Out Dorset co-artistic directors Kate Wood and Bill Gee.

“The installation sets the tone for this year’s Inside Out Dorset and chimes with the festival themes of sustainability, land use and lifecycles, human and environmental – Gaia is something we can all relate to, physically and emotionally. With the relaxing of Covid restrictions and the success of the vaccine roll out our sense of hope is re-energised and, we think, reflected across the Inside Out Dorset programme.”

After the opening weekend at Moors Valley, Gaia moves to the ancient landscape of the Marshwood Vale, within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, at Park Copse on the Symondsbury Estate, near Bridport, from 24 to 26 September.

In both locations Gaia is accompanied by an artwork trail of site-specific events and performances responding to the climate emergency and our use of the land. These include the premiere of No Going Back, composer Karen Wimhurst’s collage of Shaftesbury voices produced by Ed Bersey; Gallycrows – a pair of interactive scarecrows created by Angel Exit – and Two and a Half, a new work from West Dorset community dance company Fingerprint performed by Forest, a new company of adults with different abilities, and mature dancers company Grace + Growl. Directed by Anna Golding with choreographer Emily Aiden, the piece is inspired by the 2.5-degree rise in Arctic sea temperatures due to climate change.

Inside Out Dorset at Symondsbury also features the world premieres of three pieces specially commissioned for the festival – Partnering With Earth, a performance poetry installation by theatre-maker Dave Young, aka The Shouting Mute; Geophonic, artist Lorna Rees’s uplifting response to the landscape in which visitors listen to the earth’s geological processes using recycled plastic geophones; and Whistlers, Red Herring theatre company’s comic exploration of birdsong, dialect and extinction in the estate’s Ebb Plantation.

Elsewhere, there’s a full programme of outdoor circus events in Poole’s Lower High Street and Quay and at The Quomps in Christchurch on 17 and 18 September respectively with highlights including SEED, an explosive show with captivating images and live music following a day in the life of Willord the gardener; Catch Me, Upswing’s surprising, poignant take on age, race and gender; Mimbre’s acrobatic Lifted, a collaboration between choreographers Gary Clarke, Yi-Chun Liu from Peeping Tom, and HURyCAN; and Last Orders, a fun, energetic show in which four strangers meet in a pub and set out to start a revolution.

The final weekend of Inside Out Dorset finds two of Europe’s most in-demand outdoor arts companies in Weymouth as Germany’s Dundu and England’s Worldbeaters collaborate in Sense of Unity, an eye-popping after-dark parade show lead by the relentless drummers of Worldbeaters playing a soundtrack inspired by world rhythms and the West African kora. As dusk falls, the procession sets off to find the puppets of Baby Dundu and gentle giant Dundu. Lit from the inside, these mesmerising figures are handled and steered through the crowd by the talented team of five puppeteers.

In addition to showcasing work by diverse artists, it is part of Activate’s mission to make Inside Out Dorset’s sometimes remote locations as accessible as possible. Maps and walk-through films for each site can be found on the festival website and there are audio-visual descriptions for each artwork, as well as relaxed performances. On-site, Access Volunteers will provide active stewarding and assistance; while accessible conveniences will include a Changing Places toilet.


Moors Valley Country Park and Forest
Poole Old Town & Quay
Symondsbury Estate, Bridport