THE b-side festival began last night with cyclists pedalling their way across Portland accompanied by twinkling lights and ambient music.

As it transforms the island into a landscape gallery over the next few days, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some of the artists and their works.

Today, Ellie Harrison speaks about her unusual portrait exhibition, which is staged in an empty island home.

It’s an unusual premise for an art exhibition.

An empty house on Portland filled with photos of people who have been bereaved holding up an object that reminds them of that person.

Performance artist Ellie, who is based in Leeds, collaborated with London photographer Roshana Rubin-Mayhew for What Is Left, an exhibition that, no two ways about it, is about death.

Ellie said: “All the work I make is about bereavement, so I’m used to spending time around people who are grieving.

“We did a What is Left exhibition in Lancaster and the reaction has been over-whelmingly positive – far more joyful than you would think.

“It’s people talking about people they love. There’s laughter and warmth and it’s not morbid.”

Participants for the project, one of seven Ellie is producing on death, were found through the Weldmar Hospicecare Trust.

All the portraits are Dorset people and include Phillip, who holds his grandmother’s china flower pot, and Angie, who sits at her great aunt’s bureau.

Ellie and Roshana both visited the participants at home with Ellie carrying out the interviews and Roshana taking the photos.

People viewing What is Left can hear recordings of the interviews while sitting on a bespoke viewing chair, selected by the artists, looking at the photo.

Some of the transcripts take 10 minutes to listen to while others are as long as 30 minutes.

The Fortuneswell house was provided by Portland firm Red House lettings.

Ellie said: “It is very interesting using an empty house because I think it fits in with feelings of grief.

“Some people feel intimidated by art galleries but in this house they can come and have a cup of tea and absorb the exhibition.

“I hope it invites people to reflect on their own mortality and make the most of people in the moment.

“People wait until they are ill and to say how they really feel about people.

“I would encourage people to tell other how much they are valued and how much they love each other all the time.”

What is Left is at 7 Belle Vue Terrace (off Fortuneswell High Street), Portland.

It is open from 10am to 6pm daily until September 14 and admission is free.

See for more information.