BEAF commissions new works each year which are showcased at the BEAF festival. Commissions vary each year; some act as a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work to wider audiences or for BEAF to support national and international artists and major-commissions within our festival in Boscombe.

2023 Commissions

In 2022 we launched an open call for artists to apply for up to £5,000 to create or develop a new piece of work around the theme of unheard voices by artists based in Boscombe or with a strong connection to the place and community. We selected 3 artists and a group of artists for an exhibition in BEAF Arts Festival 2023. We also commissioned additional artists that we approached and developed on-going projects through new commissions. 

Harold Offeh

Boscombe World

Our main commissioned exhibition in 2023 exploring Boscombe as a place of healing, sanctuary and restorative care. Boscombe World invited visitors to reflect and engage with Boscombe through a series of playful installations and interventions that took place across 10 days.

Boscombe World explores the area’s rich history as a seaside resort for visitors in search of health, recuperation and pleasure, brought into dialogue with Boscombe’s contemporary perception as a place for recovery, sanctuary and asylum.

Art might be seen as an intellectual thing, but I don’t think it always is. It can be emotional, it can be sensory, it can be funny, it can be playful, it can be entertaining.” Harold Offeh

Harold Offeh is an artist working in a range of media including performance, video, photography, learning and social arts practice. Offeh is interested in the space created by the inhabiting or embodying of histories. He employs humour as a means to confront the viewer with historical narratives and contemporary culture.

Image © Caroline Beale Johnson

Joli Vyann


We commissioned Boscombe-based dance company Joli Vyann to produce a re-interpretation of their choreographed dance ‘Stateless’ with voices from some participants of our Seeking Refuge Project and experimental sounds from Japanese composer, Nao Masuda, playing live on the Taiko drums and Iranian musician Babak Barbod. Stateless explored the topical subject of immigration, humanity and tolerance, taking audiences on an emotional journey into the lives and fate of people forced to leave their country of birth.

“Inspirational” Audience member

The soundtrack to Stateless includes spoken word excerpts of real-life interviews with refugees, which Joli Vyann have met and talked to about their experiences of displacement, and being torn away from their homes by political circumstances.

This event was our fundraiser where all ticket sales went directly to Bournemouth Foodbank.

Image © John Saborido

Brendan Barry

Portraits of Boscombe

Brendan Barry is a photographer, educator and camera builder whose creative photographic practice combines elements of construction, education, performance and participation.

Brendan worked with us at BEAF to create a large camera obscura in Boscombe Arts Depot. Over the course of the festival captured hundreds of images of people connected to Boscombe. People engaged with the processing and experimentation techniques of photography and explored the on-going archive of photographs taken in the gallery. The obscura will remain at B.A.D. for on-going projects and workshops.

Image © John Saborido

Ian Wornast

Boscombe Flags

In April 2023 colourful flags filled the streets and Sovereign Shopping Centre created by artist Ian Wornast. We commissioned Ian to create a series of four flags in response to Boscombe’s architecture and history. 

Ian Wornast is an artist from ActionSpace; an exceptional visual arts development agency for learning disabled artists.

Boscombe Summer flags is an going placemaking project along Boscombe high-street funded by Bournemouth Coastal BID and supported by Boscombe Sovereign Centre.

Ian Wornast’s art practice is inspired by place and a developed sense of design. Ian has a passion for transport and the built environment around us. He is particularly inspired by London transport, its history and developments. He notices and researches changes to structures around the city and creates graphic yet personal geographic mappings in response. Iconic buildings and local landmarks get translated into Ian’s distinctive style, which uses bright colour and intricate references. He has produced work in response to areas around London and further afield including Glasgow. In 2022 he was commissioned by Art on the Underground for a poster work for Nine Elms station to respond to its dramatically evolving landscape.

Image © Roz Pike


In 2023 we built our first ever BEAF Arts Pavilion; a space for free workshops, performances and community events. Created by local designer Karolina Bilvinaite, from Bed Studio, the pavilion combined the work of artists and the community, making this a vibrant and colourful hub for the duration of the festival. Street artists Slam Daniels and Tech Moon worked together with students from SWRAC, the South West Regional Assessment Centre, supporting young people with learning differences, to create a four metre high artwork. 

Over the course of the 10 days; Keira Rathbone created a pop up exhibition of ‘typewriter eyes’, families watched the Buzztastic Bee-Balancing Blundershow, the Cabinet of Living Cinema delivered a sound workshop and screened the ‘Red turtle’ alongside a live orchestra. Throughout the week people took part in lino-printing, creative writing, printing t-shirts, up-cycling, mindful drawing, queer zine making and much more. 

Image © John Saborido


The Stories We Thread

Seeking Refuge is a creative, collaborative project sharing the hidden voices of people who have been forced to flee their homes.

Within the festival The Stories We Thread brought together all the voices of the Seeking Refuge project; the young unaccompanied refugees, asylum seekers, and all the women and men refugees who come to our weekly workshops to create a large communal cyanotype. Throughout several months in the lead up to BEAF 23 ‘Thursday Threads’ weekly participants worked collaboratively to sew these stories together, embellishing them with gold embroidery for an intimate and reflective installation. 

For me, the Seeking Refuge Project has been an unforgettable experience. It was great to tell my story and share it with other people from different parts of the world. Each person has something to share, each from their own experience, but in the end we are all looking for a place where we can live well, safely and freely.”  Pilar, member of the Seeking Refuge Project

Image © John Saborido

Group exhibition

Hidden Voices: ‘Portraits, Stories and Journeys

Group exhibition featuring work by Corrianna Clarke, Maddison Collymore, Mark England, Sadaf Firoozi, Mark Perry and Nicholas Teo

Hidden Voices: ‘Portraits, Stories and Journeys was a group exhibition of selected artists following a BEAF open call, exploring intertwining narratives and portraits from the past and present through photography, film and painting. The works reflected stories of migration and journeys, identity, relationships and how we envision mental health in contemporary society.

“This was amazing. Seeing all the hard work and care that everyone put into their art and the way it affected everyone who came out to see it, was beautiful. Truly wonderful!” Audience member

Image © John Saborido


In Touch

In Touch with artists Francesca Baglione (Miss High Leg Kick), Abi Cunliffe, Lorna Rees and Steve Nice celebrated the memories of three girls on the Boscombe Hippodrome dancefloor on a night out in 1959. A multi-sensory performance show evoking a moment from the 1950s in Boscombe via music, dance, fragrance, with a particular emphasis on one of our most overlooked senses – touch. 

In Touch was commissioned following an open call for BEAF 2023. It was performed in the Sovereign Centre and B.A.D. 

Francesca Baglione (Miss High Leg Kick) is an Olivier Award winning live artist whose work is characterised by humour, unusual approaches to audience engagement, a love of spectacle, and a celebration of the everyday.

Image © John Saborido

Sophie Fretwell & Bogdan Babei


Family friendly show in our pavilion space to celebrate one of nature’s most buzz-tastic creatures, the humble bee. Created by two Dorset artists; disabled theatre designer and maker Sophie Fretwell in collaboration with Bogdan Babei a Transylvanian performer to champion the unheard voices of bees and the struggles of a Romanian migratory parent to find his community.

The Buzztastic Bee-Balancing Blundershow was commissioned following an open call for BEAF 23 and performed in our pavilion space across two Saturady’s within the festival. Sophie Fretwell, is a disabled theatre designer and maker, based in Portland who has designed costumes, sets and puppets for local companies like Arts University Bournemouth, Angel Exit, Gobbledegook and Diverse City’s EBYA. Dan Babei, is a Transylvanian performer and musician also living in Dorset, who has performed in various, local, ACE funded community productions.

Image © John Saborido

Keira Rathbone

Eye Contact

Eye Contact was a BEAF Arts commission selected from an open call, that focused on conversations with people that live in and around Boscombe. Keira creates live typewriter artworks that she describes as ‘typics’ to document the eyes of people that she encounters within communities. 

The collected eyes and stories shared were displayed in an art trail throughout the festival at local shops and venues around Boscombe as well as a large projection on the facade of a building on the high street. Keira also created live ‘typics’ in the BEAF Art Pavilion during and in the lead up to the festival. 

“Not only was it wonderful to have my eye typed but to have a wonderful conversation through it was also very special.” Participant 

Image © John Saborido

The Outsiders Project

The Lock-In

The Lock-in is an ongoing monthly event for our outstanding outsider artists to try out their new uncensored work. For BEAF Arts Festival 2023 the artists performed new writing, spoken word and music from unheard voices in our theatre in B.A.D. 

“All of the acts were so diverse in their different performances but all were equally as powerful in their own way.” Audience member

“The Outsiders Project is a genuine route into writing and performing for people who wouldn’t otherwise find their way into it. It’s a magic world for a lot of people. Especially people who’ve had tough lives. Lives out of the arts. Outside the enchanted wall. The Outsiders Project is about breaking the spell. Smashing down the wall.” Damian Le Bas, writer of The Stopping Places, A Journey Through Gypsy Britain

Image © Caroline Beale Johnson

Police Box Exhibition

Postcards from Prison was an exhibition made up of rarely heard voices from inside the criminal justice system. Following an Open call-out the exhibition has been selected by members of The Outsiders Project.

Image © John Saborido

2021 Commissions

Seeking Refuge

Seeking Refuge is a photographic project led by Bournemouth-based fine art photographer and community activist Caroline Beale Johnson. It shows images and words from the lives of refugees and migrants currently seeking asylum and living in Bournemouth. 

For this project, Caroline selected and worked with six emerging and established photographers to provide an insight into the lives of the displaced migrant community. The work reveals the lives of the refugees and migrants, not from afar, but from the inside.

This exhibition introduces you to seven people who left places as diverse as Syria, Venezuela, and Sudan and with lives as varied as a secondary school headteacher, a photographer with his own studio, and a student at school. 

During the time they spent together, the photographers learned about what people were escaping from, and what rich and full lives they left behind.

Mark Perry


In choosing the normal, incidental, and ordinary world of my high street, I also hope to celebrate the people, the place, and some of its character. Using my smartphone camera allowed me to capture people unburdened by the knowledge of a lens being cast on them, and avoided too many deliberations on composition and mise-en-scene. As such, painting ‘you as I see you’ provided the ideal reflection of what and who we are. Considering Covid-19 social restrictions, particularly when these pictures were taken, I hope to have captured life – as it is, normal or not.

Mark Perry is currently studying for an MA in Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth.

Simon Kilmister

An interactive experience exploring the boundaries of the mind.

The human brain cannot comprehend the immensity of the Infinite, and never will, because if the human brain could comprehend the Infinite, the Infinite would become human, and therefore would be relative.

Expand your perspective, for the sky of your mind is Infinite. 

― Leland T. Lewis

Patti Gaal-Holmes

‘into the frameless distance to the city of (no) memory’

Analogue photography/film is used to question what it means to go into exile, fleeing into that ‘frameless distance’ that’s so full of promise, hope and possibility. The project centres on Miklos Gaál’s escape from Hungary, where he swam across the Danube, and took a train to Bratislava, finally escaping across the Bratislava/Austria border.

The project also looks at Gaal-Holmes’ father’s earlier escape from Hungary in 1948. In 2018 she travelled, armed with cameras, to Budapest/ Bratislava searching for traces of the past to capture on film. 

The project is informed by W. G. Sebald’s search for the ‘nervature’ of the past, Kentridge’s premise relating to the complexity and ever-changing uncertainties of human existence, and Nigerian curator, Okwui Enwezor’s conviction that, ‘it is our job to think historically about the present, since the present is always embedded in the past.’

Mark England

A photographic portrait of the people that live in, work and visit Boscombe. The series introduces the subjects from a space somewhere between social documentary and portraiture.  “I have lived here for the last decade and adore the unique alloy of the eccentric, the vibrant and the mundane that melds together to form the character of the area’s people. I try to avoid the “extraordinary within the ordinary” type of cliché when describing what I find fascinating about the people who can be met here but, in truth, that is exactly what it is.”


Denise Webber


“I hear the vixen in the early hours, crying for a mate. It’s a primeval sound. She has no need of sanction or permission. But when I am drawing the sparrow, I think of the sound of its wingbeats: somewhere between a murmur and a shiver. A bird, being a creature of the air, is like a cipher for the voice or the soul, something fugitive. It can also evoke a message or a missile. Sometimes in my dreams I am bound to a wild animal and feel accountable for it, as if it were a part of myself.” Denise Webber

The female body dominates in Denise Webber’s work. In her drawings she often represents it as nude or with ethereal fragments of fabric or other adornment. Thus freed from cultural or temporal attributes, the woman’s body reveals its complex relationship to beauty, agency and power.

Webber works with a mix of film, photography and drawing. In much of her work, women overcome constraints and barriers to enter into spaces from which they have previously been barred. They partake in pleasurable acts of subversion, or embody the pursuit of artistic creation. 

In her recent drawings, the woman is visited by a wild creature, a vixen, a sparrow, or sometimes a flying fox, a species on the threshold of extinction. Some drawings celebrate the moment of touching an animal. Others suggest guardianship and ideas around shared origins and destinies.

Denise Webber was brought up in Famagusta in Cyprus, where the juxtaposition of hedonism with political violence led eventually to the outbreak of war, shelling and invasion, and her family was evacuated to the UK. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at Tate Modern London, Moderna Museet Stockholm and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne. It is represented in the Arts Council Collection and in the Tate archive. She lives and works in London and the South West UK.

Click Here For Artists Website

Ineke Van Der Wal

“And if the earthly no longer knows your name“

An immersive large-scale set of drawings in charcoal, which covered a whole wall specifically created for the B.A.D. space. The wall of drawings invited a thought-provoking interpretation on the human condition which is addressed by the artist in the form of abstract figurative self-portraits. Some of the works are wrapped in stillness whilst others rise up, confronting the viewer. Figures, heads and bodies appear in an abstracted background. The viewer may choose to be a participant, step forward and emerge themselves with their own personal reflections.

Originally from the Netherlands, Ineke Van Der Wal has been living and working in England since the early 80s. Her work has been exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally and is featured in both public and private collections.

Click Here For Artist Website

The Outsider's Project


We are the originals. The outsiders. We scar our bodies to never forget. 

Every tattoo has a story and these have never been heard before. They’re raw, exquisite, fearless, and uncensored. Every word is written and performed by our outstanding outsider artists. 

“The Outsiders performances this year at the Kneehigh Asylum were the best things I’ve seen and heard for a decade. It has changed the way I think about the stories we tell. And that goes for every single person in the audience.”  Kneehigh Theatre

Directed by Nell Leyshon

Adult content,16+

The Outsiders Project is funded by Arts Council, Lottery, PHT, Alpine Fellowship, Sovereign Centre, BEAF, Talbot Village Trust, Recreate Dorset.


It would take more than a pandemic to stop our writers. The Lock-In is our monthly event for our outstanding outsider artists to try out their new work. Join us for new writing, spoken word, and music from unheard voices.

An astonishing evening at the theatre. A brilliant piece of storytelling – Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Adult content 16+

Living Room circus

“It’s weird, it’s fun, it’s moving, and it sports some excellent acrobatic talent.” – Katherine Kavanagh, The Loco Klub 

Living Room Circus is an experimental circus company, creating and performing intimate and immersive shows. They devise and develop their own blend of circus, dance, live music, physical theatre, and live art – always with the emphasis on audience interaction and involvement. They do this by transforming any given space into ‘the circus’, offering the audience a chance to experience circus arts, in places they would not expect.


“with not a word spoken, The Paper Cinema crafts a fine example of Shakespeare’s quintessential work… This isn’t just theatre, but a love letter to animated process” – The Skinny

This is a digital presentation of Paper Cinema’s most recent acclaimed theatre show; a re-imagining of Macbeth as a cautionary tale for our times. With typical charm, wit, and invention the company took its audience on a journey through rugged Scottish landscapes to encounter storms, battles, betrayal, and murderous plot. Shakespeare’s tragedy was brought to life as beautifully drawn puppets, evocative music, foley, and cinematic projection combine in a captivating silent film created before your eyes.

The film is 75 minutes long and has been carefully designed to give the audience the experience of watching The Paper Cinema in real time. It uses multiple cameras to give different perspectives of the work and is shot on location to enhance the storytelling; it is an artistic work itself, not simply a film of a performance.


Fronted by the exuberance and charisma of Zimbabwean musician Kuda Matimba, Harare feature a groundbreaking line-up, mixing the buzzing acoustics of the Southern African rich-toned marimba, mbira, ringing jingling guitars, swooping basslines, irresistible dance rhythms, and uplifting vocals. 

Virtuoso marimbist Kuda Matimba was a member of Zimbabwe’s legendary Bhundu Boys; a groundbreaking force in the African music industry, they paved the way for countless artists to reach commercial success around the world.


Emily Hawes

Royal Arcade: Unit 9

Emily Hawes: A Fin Rising On A Wide Blank Sea

An installation of moving image, sound, and sculpture, that weaves together themes of local history, bioacoustics, marine ecologies, and storytelling. 

Artist’s Website 

In her 1988 short essay The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Ursula K le Guin refutes the dominant narrative that the first human cultural device or technology was the spear or axe, used for ‘sticking, bashing and killing’. Rather, she argues, civilisation began with the humble receptacle or container – leaves, gourds, shells, net bags, slings or sacks, were used to gather, transport and hold nuts, berries, seeds, roots, shoots and leaves, and other life sustaining nutrients. Le Guin explains: ‘If you haven’t got something to put it in, food will escape you’, and as the tool which ‘brings energy home’, the carrier bag is the untold origin story of culture, technology and civilisation. 

Unlike the spear (which follows a linear trajectory towards its target), Le Guin’s carrier bag is vast and messy; a ‘womb of things’ and ‘a bag of stars’. Le Guin draws our attention to the fact that the form of the novel, mirrors the function of the sling or sack, she explains; ‘A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.’ For le Guin, stories, and in particular science fiction stories, have a generative potential to redefine, reimagine and reconfigure how we understand the world around us.

– Le Guin, U. The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (1988, 2019), Ignota Books 

The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction acts as the departure point for ‘A rising fin on a wide blank sea’ which seeks to re-imagine the story of a 70ft long, 40 tonne blue whale, which was fatally wounded and washed ashore with the ebb and flow of the tide in Boscombe in 1897. 

The film begins by documenting the process of reconstructing a fragment of the jawbone, using 3d rendering technologies. Once printed, the replica becomes the protagonist of the film, akin to a digitalised, yet fossilised, carrier bag-of-sorts. Existing somewhere between digital spectre and archaeological tool, the blue whale jawbone is the storyteller for our post-human time(s). Roaming the watery depths, this sentient spectre weaves together a narrative around the whale in mythology, underwater inter-species relations and investigates broader stories in relation to human created stresses and sonic violence within ocean ecologies. 

Churchill Gardens

For the final weekend of the festival we turned Churchill Gardens into a ‘community back garden’ with a weekend of art installations, family workshops and activities to engage all ages.  It brought fun and colour to the gardens for everyone to enjoy in a relaxed atmosphere to end the festival.

The centrepiece was an immersive, installation style space of arts duo, Rimski & Handkerchief who presented family performances including their bicycle piano/double bassicle, umbrella repair machine and turntable art. The stage area created by Rimski and Handkerchief operated like an outdoor venue, with additional crew, seating for the public and ongoing entertainment.

There was a variety of arts and craft workshops, music and performance acts across the gardens.  This included African drumming with Cheikh Diop, willow making with Creative Kids, bubbles with Squidge and Pop and a silent disco among other workshops and activities. 

Cora Clarke

Corrianna Clarke, Boscombe Bound

Created within and inspired by lockdown in Boscombe, the animated short ‘Boscombe Bound’ shares voices of the community, evoking the unique sense of this location and time. 

Director and Animator, Corrianna Clarke 

Audio expertise and guidance from Jo Tyler at So Niche

Check out Cora’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

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