BEAF 2023: Harold Offeh’s Boscombe World

BEAF 2023: Harold Offeh's Boscombe World

Boscombe World blends historical and contemporary references from the area’s reputation for healing, recovering and wellness. Artist Harold Offeh explains more…

Image: Harold Offeh, workshop presented for East Side Projects, Birmingham, 2020. Image ©️ Ashley Carr. 

Harold Offeh is an artist whose practice incorporates a range of media, from performance and video through to learning and social arts. For BEAF 2023, Harold has been commissioned to create our major festival exhibition. His adventurous visual and sensory art installation is called Boscombe World.

Boscombe World, hosted at Boscombe Arts Depot (B.A.D.), which is the former TJ Hughes department store, blends historical and contemporary references inviting curiosity, play, participation and contemplation. Harold explains a little more about his approach.


Look forward to playful, diverse experiences

“Something I’ve been really interested in is making multi-sensory experiences. One of the exciting things for me about contemporary art practices is how broad and diverse it is. I like to create spaces for play and exploration.

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.”


Incorporating healing, recovery and wellness

“One of the narratives I’m interested in Boscombe is this idea of its long history of healing, of recovery and wellness.

Going back to being a seaside resort, spa hotels, then becoming a holiday destination for day trippers. But more recently, providing refuge and recovery for people who are recovering from addiction or people – asylum seekers and refugees – seeking sanctuary.

To me, all of those things are connected. There’s a different historical and social and political context to those things. But it’s interesting that this one place has been a site for that. It’s something to be celebrated and discussed and recognised.”


Image © Emile Holba

From the past through to the present day

[For Boscombe World] I’m trying to bring [the area’s history] together in a sensory, playful way. Such as referencing the pine trees that were imported in the 19th Century because it was thought that there was a health benefit. So you get these amazing, huge pine trees in Bournemouth and Boscombe.

[On the flip side], also thinking about the many people who, over time, come to retire or seek asylum or look for health cures for illnesses and sickness. I’m going to be creating sun loungers with audio and speakers to hear different historical and contemporary narratives.

There will also be an area for early years and parents. [Inspired by] the experience of a Victorian spa, this room full of sensory, tactile objects that young people can play with, and construct and sit on and lie on. Boscombe World will offer lots of different experiences for people.


BEAF 2023’s Boscombe World preview takes place on Friday 16 June from 6-8pm. Reserve your free ticket. Boscombe World is a free exhibition open to the public from 11-6pm throughout the BEAF 2023 Arts Festival, from 17-25 June.

Boscombe World is a BEAF 2023 Commission, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

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