Strong Island Co.

About

Born from a simple conversation between Paul Gonella & Tristan Savage over some drinks on Albert Road, the idea for Strong Island came from our passion about where we live and the fact that we would often miss certain events, gigs, exhibitions etc and had no real source to find out about them in one place…

We launched 8 days later on the 27th September 2008 with some of our own photos and videos alongside scans of flyers we picked up and articles we dug out about the city.

Unfunded and independent we’ve managed to keep the original ethos of quite simply being a resource designed to promote, showcase and inform people about Portsmouth and Southsea’s cultural scene. Be it past, present or future we’ll do our best to keep you up to date with photos, interviews and articles about the city. However, we really couldn’t have made it this far without our readers, contributors & the people who make up this fair city. From foraging for articles to write back in 2008, to being inundated with all manner of related information now.

Strong Island has really taken off since this humble beginning, with both of us operating, maintaining, updating and writing posts in our free time outside of ‘normal’ working hours.

“One thing we set out not to do from the start is pretend we know what we are talking about with particular subjects, when we simply don’t. Due to this the team has grown and grown, with people coming in and volunteering their own time to help add their own particular knowledge on subjects yet all tied in with a love for the city and it’s culture. ”

Another principle of Strong Island is to try and not only show people what is new and what is happening with the city now but also highlight some of the city’s long and fascinating history. We also strive to create original and captivating content ourselves or with our guest writers. You can find out about who writes for Strong Island HERE.

In recent years Strong Island began to work on cultural events that brought together different aspects of the city’s culture and community in new and exciting ways. In 2011 we worked with the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council in curating and managing the Strong Island Round Tower Exhibition, which brought a local landmark back to life and saw art, design and photography by local creatives viewed by over 3,000 people in two weeks – possibly the busiest exhibition of local art in Portsmouth ever. In 2012 we held our Primary exhibition which asked local people to try and photograph their city and it’s people with their mobile phones with a theme of primary colours. The exhibition opened on Albert Road with well over 500 photographs taken by over 100 people making it a huge community arts project, certainly the biggest in recent years in regards to engagement. As well as art exhibitions we run our annual Homebrew competition with the winning beer brewed by Irving and Co local brewers and distributed and sold in Hampshire and West Sussex. In 2012 we also had our first stage at local music festival Southsea Fest, with the stage packed out for the whole day. With all of our events we strive to engage local people, seek out new and interesting ways and locations to showcase local culture and we hope that all helps make a Strong Island event something different, something special.

2012 has also seen Strong Island grow dramatically in some new directions. In January we started Strong Island Media which brings together our own creative skills and services in offering graphic design, photography, film production, web design and education/training. So far we have worked with many different clients all over the South Coast and London with M&C Saatchi, Anglepoise, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire County Council & Chichester Harbour Conservancy as a few examples. In May we launched Strong Island Clothing Co and dramatically expanded our clothing range and accessories with us selling online and at a range of events. We take great care in making sure all of our items are of the highest quality, created with care and craftsmanship and all have a sense of individuality, be that screen printed by hand or hand crafted accessories. In September we launched Strong Island Recordings, a boutique record label that strives to find, promote and release the best in underground guitar music. Strong Island teamed up with local DJs, label owners, promotors and A&R and as a collective work together to pull together our different skills and resources to make things happen in a dynamic new way. We’re working with local bands and bands from London and Hull and developing connections with bands from both the UK, Europe and beyond.

2013 sees us striving to grow these different threads of Strong Island but with a particular re-emphasis on making the Strong Island website grow, develop and continue to be the best cultural resource within Portsmouth. 2013 will see a new redesigned website and will also see us with our first real bricks & mortar home, in the heart of Albert Road. More on that soon…

Welcome to Strong Island.

Tristan & Paul

Interview with BBC Solent Radio about the Strong Island website

Interview with Claire Sambrook on BBC Radio Solent about the Strong Island Exhibition at The Round Tower.

Feature on ITV Meridian News on 25th April 2011 about the Strong Island Exhibition at The Round Tower.

Features

Created Local Special: Immy Smith and the Brain Tumour Research lab at the University of Portsmouth

We’ve featured many local artists, photographers, filmmakers, designers & makers under the Created Local series for many years (over 100 in the last 6 years), profiling work touching on many, many different subjects. Immy Smith’s background, artwork and working environment is something a little different.

Immy Smith is a rare creative, working in what initially might be thought of as two different worlds: one foot in science, the other in art. With a PhD in Pharmacology plus a strong arts background Immy has recently been working in the Cellular & Molecular Neuro-Oncology (Brain Tumour) Research laboratories at the University of Portsmouth on a 10 month residency which looks at how to foster better and more creative working relationships between medical science and the arts. The residency, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, aims specifically to create a sense of collaboration with not just laboratory staff but also the patients effected by brain tumours, which kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.

“The project I’m working on here at the Brain Tumour Research lab is a Leverhulme artists residency where I work in the lab making art alongside science researchers. Our project aims to tell the story of brain tumour patients, scientists and clinicians, through art. We want to make these stories accessible and share the unique challenges of brain tumours with a wider audience to help raise awareness of this devastating disease.” – Immy Smith

Cellular & Molecular Neuro-Oncology (Brain Tumour) Research laboratories

Working within the laboratory environment sees the research staff and artists working in a shared space, with artwork becoming a part of the laboratory environment. The relationship allowing for artistic insight in to the latest treatment research and the scientist an appreciation of creative processes and different patterns of thought. The project has included workshops with scientists as well as patients, collecting stories and aiming to “fill the gap in understanding”; having perspective on cancer analogies, unique sensory & cognitive effects of these tumours due to their location in the brain and patterns of cells and diagnosis & treatment. The creative work aims to engage with all and to broaden the horizons and enhance the skills of both artist & scientists, through this particular interdisciplinary research.

Staff at Cellular & Molecular Neuro-Oncology (Brain Tumour) Research laboratories

Immy’s work includes ‘Heterogeneity Experiment: Ink, SciArt, and Brain Tumour Heterogeneity’ which explores heterogeneity between brain tumours, through making art at the lab bench. The ingredients used are primarily inks – ultramarine and magenta. Other constituents include water and lab filters. Every filter contains both colours. From this limited palette of ingredients are made an array of unique patterns – more than 120 of them. The components are few but the outcomes are complex, heterogeneous:

“The cellular components of your brain are primarily neurons and glial cells. Neurons get a lot of the limelight, however glial cells – including astrocytes and oligodendrocytes – play a crucial role in brain function, and neurons are lost without them. Other constituent cells include pericytes and endothelial cells in the brain’s blood vessels, microglia (immune cells), and ependymal cells (which line brain ventricles). From a limited palette of cellular ingredients, all the fascinating machinery of your brain is created.” – Immy Smith

Heterogeneity Experiment: Ink, SciArt, and Brain Tumour Heterogeneity

Heterogeneity Experiment: Ink, SciArt, and Brain Tumour Heterogeneity

Another part of work produced during this pilot project are Immy’s Ugly Objects experiments:

“Some of the scientists here expressed a wish to depict brain tumours as something ugly – rather than using images of cells which are often quite beautiful. While this project is about using recognisable or non-exclusive imagery (so I wouldn’t use scientific images of cells anyway) it raised many interesting ideas. I previously discussed the scientists feelings of the dread and awfulness, that they associate personally with brain tumours as cancers. Another interesting idea was; what is ugly? Is what we perceive as ‘ugly’ in any way universal? What are common features in people’s descriptions of ugly? Can we use this as something recognisable, something not exclusive to science or art, with which to communicate about brain tumours? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I know it’s harder to draw ugly than you might think.” – Immy Smith

Ugly Objects

Ugly Objects

Immy is working towards an upcoming public exhibition, with permission to use the event to fundraise for the charity Brain Tumour Research. We’ll let you know more details on the upcoming exhibition and the work included soon. For now, if you are interested in finding out more about Immy’s work you can visit her websites below:

connectingnarratives.tumblr.com
immysmith.com
imaginingscience.com

Immy Smith

Common People Ticket Competition

It’s less than a month until Common People takes place on Southampton Common. Artists performing include Fat Boy Slim, DJ Yoda, De La Soul, Band of Skulls, Grace Jones and Isle of Wight’s Plastic Mermaids. As well as friends of Strong Island Dead Rabbits, Rickyfitts and The Boy I Used To Be playing the Uncommon Stage.

Rob Da Bank and the team behind Common People have kindly donated a pair of tickets for us to give away. All you need to do is email stuart@strong-island.co.uk with your answers to the following questions before midnight this coming Sunday. The winner be contact directly and announced on social media soon after.

1) Which South coast football team is Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim known to be a big supporter of?
2) Castle Road’s Pie & Vinyl will be in attendance at Common People. Name any of the artists signed to their record label?
3) Can you name the James Bond film in which Grace Jones starred?

To avoid disappointment you tickets are available from Ticketline from £30 and reductions for children and teens.

Common-People-line-up

To stay up to date on all things Common People you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter @cpeoplefest and Instagram @commonpeoplefestival.

Strong Island Calendar 2016 #SIC2016

Yet again we were overwhelmed with the interest and success of our 2015 Calendar. I hope that you are all enjoying them and it is inspiring you to get involved and submitting your photo’s for inclusion for next years calendar.

We are excited to announce that we are taking submissions for our 2016 calendar. If you’ve taken a photo that you’d like to submit then you can email your submission via calendar@strong-island.co.uk. If you’ve taken a photo on Instagram that you’d like to submit for consideration you just need add the hashtag #SIC2016.

There are no limits to how many you submit, the only rule is that the image must be relevant to Portsmouth. We would love to see more submissions from all over Portsmouth not just our favourite Southsea landmarks so please share this with friends who you think might be interested in getting involved.

Along with Instagram we also recommend you check out the Faded App. I’ve had a play with this App and you can create images that surpass anything that Instagram can produce. I especially love the overlay function.

We have a couple of our 2015 Calendars left but if you are interested then get in quick as these are likely to go within the next week or so! You can get your copies from the Strong Island shop HERE.

Strong Island Calendar 2016

The Strong Island Photo of the Year Competition 2015

Throughout 2013 we ran a photography competition open to everyone where each week a photo selected from the weekly submissions was chosen as the Strong Island Facebook header image and placed on our Facebook page for a week. We had some incredible images from all over the city, from landmarks such as South Parade Pier to the Spinnaker Tower, to the stormy waves of the sea, the Warrior at night…so many incredible photos we were privileged to share. At the end of the year we asked you, the Strong Islanders, to pick your favourite from all the weekly winning images, and by tallying up all the Facebook likes the winner of the Strong Island Photo of the Year was the below photo of South Parade Pier by Catherine Taylor. Many of the the photos that came in were also submitted to our very successful Strong Island Calendar for 2014 too.

This year we’re running the Strong Island Photo of the Year competition, and again welcome any submissions sent to us in a variety of easy ways. The first is to email the photo to us at contact@strong-island.co.uk. Just include your name, the photo submissions, link to your website/Flickr/etc and let us know if you would like them also submitted to the calendar too. You can also submit images on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #SIPhotoComp2015 and we’ll keep an eye on any photos added. You can also tag us in to those tweets and photos too but be sure to use the hashtag so we know you’re entering them. The photos can be of anything, anywhere, as long as it is within the city. You can enter as many images as you like each week and they don’t have to have been taken that week they are submitted. By submitting the photos you’re giving us permission to share them (obviously) but we’ll only share them in relation to this competiton and we’ll ensure we credit you and link back to your website, Flickr, etc. Make sure you only submit photos you yourself took and have creative ownership/copyright of.

Each Friday we’ll post up our weekly winner on Facebook as our Facebook Header and also post up on Strong Island a selection of images we really liked from that week too. Each week the winner will win some Strong Island goodies. In December the final overall winner from all the weekly winners, after all your votes, will win a big pile of Strong Island goodness including a mug, tees, prints, etc and the image crowned Strong Island Photo of the Year 2015! Not just that, we’re also have an exhibition in Strong Island Co at the end of the year/start of 2016 of the best submitted images and the winning image.

You can start submitting your photos right now!

South Parade Pier by Catherine Taylor
South Parade Pier by Catherine Taylor, winner in 2013.

A Hard Choice – Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News

Throughout the running of the current exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum people get to choose their favourite items from the Portsmouth City Collection that are on show in A Hard Choice (you can see and read our preview of the exhibition HERE). Every month different items chosen by many visitors are given rosettes showing the current favourites. Strong Island, working with the Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services (with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund), are asking over a dozen different people from around Portsmouth what their personal favourite items are in the exhibition and why.

To kick off this series of articles we met up with Mark Waldron, editor of The News, at Portsmouth City Museum and after a walk around he let us know what were his own Best in Show.

Hi Mark, what, in no particular order, are your three favourite items in the A Hard Choice exhibition?

The first object is a dead mole, a bit of a bizarre one to start with. I think a lot of people when they are younger they find dead animals and insects and your immediate thoughts are to pick it up, put it in a box and preserve it. A dead mole Rosalinda* found when she was 4 years old started off her fascination with conservation and got her in to curating. I just love that this mole is so different to everything else in the exhibition, there are a lot of historic parts to the exhibition but this tiny mole preserved from way back when is an incredible artefact that leapt out at me and caught my curiosity.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (2)

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (3)

Next are the visiting cards from a certain Mr & Mrs Charles Dickens, it is the cards that they had when living in Tavistock House in London, which they occupied between 1851 and 1860. They are the actual cards they would have given out to guests at the time.

I think we celebrate and are proud of our links with Dickens and I think these really take you back to this man who is so pressed in to all our memories even 200 years later. These cards would have been in his wallet, in his pocket, and he would have been handing them out to the important guests that would have come to see him. The fact that they are preserved in this collection really adds to what Dickens is all about and what he means to this city.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (4)

This item is labelled Hippodrome Bomb and it is a bomb that fell in Portsmouth in 1941 but lay undiscovered until 1984 when there was work taking place at the Hippodrome Theatre in Guildhall Walk**. Some interesting ceramic tiles were found but suddenly everyone was evacuated because also found was this large unexploded bomb. Royal Engineers had to come in and did a controlled explosion and the remains of the bomb were donated to the collection.

So much of Portsmouth’s landscape changed during the war, obviously the city was a target of heavy German bombing. The Guildhall was destroyed and many parts of Portsmouth were changed forever. Just to see here as you walk in to the exhibition this massive bit of ordinance, the fact that it didn’t go off but you look at the size of it…what damage that would have caused…it is just an incredible reminder of what is a massive part of the history of our city.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (1)

If you could donate something from your own personal collection(s) or something else in the city or relates to the city…what would be good to add to the Portsmouth City Collection for future generations?

Growing up I was very heavily in to music and a place to be for a lot of touring bands at the time was the Guildhall. Most of the bands from the 80s would come down and I saw many great concerts down there like New Order, The Cure, The Jam, Depeche Mode…a lot of great nights out. We would get the bus from Cowplain, over Portsdown Hill in to the big city so it was always a big night out. I just remember being packed in to many concerts seeing the great bands at the time. So the tickets from those occasions, which bring back fantastic memories of growing up in a great city.

* Rosalinda Hardiman, who curated the A Hard Choice exhibition.
** The building was destroyed during the Portsmouth Blitz.

Don’t forget you can visit A Hard Choice exhibition and the rest of Portsmouth City Museum and other museums in the city for free the Easter and beyond. You can find out more about the museums and what activities are taking place at:

www.portsmouthcitymuseums.co.uk

Short Story Competition – Deadline Extended

We are really excited to announce that we have extended the deadline for you to submit your entry to our short story competition. The theme behind your short story must simply involve one of My Dog Sighs tin can men pictured at the bottom of the page. There is a word limit for each age group but apart from that, everything else is completely open to your own interpretation.

The entries will be split into three categories for the different age groups, each with a different word limit.

• 13 years and under (150 words)
• 14 years – 18 years (300 words)
• 18 years and above (500 words)

This event is open to everyone to enter and you don’t even have to be from Portsmouth to get involved. For the younger age groups we are looking for teachers who would be willing to lend a hand. This will involve going through some entries and maybe they would like to invite their school or class to get involved, maybe as part of a class project perhaps.

This competition will now run until Sunday 12th April, with the winner for each category being announced soon after. The three lucky winners will receive a copy of their story created by graphic designer Sam Barclay and personalised by My Dog himself. The winning entries will also be featured in an exhibition in our Strong Island Co shop which you can find at 12 Highland Road, Southsea.

If you or your are interested in getting involved with helping judge the winner you can drop me can email to stuart@strong-island.co.uk. Submissions should be sent to the same email address, please don’t forget to include your contact details and what category this is applicable to.

My Dog Sighs has a great talent for capturing character through the expressions on each piece of art, which should serve as an ideal inspiration for your short story. We look forward to receiving your submissions.

My Dog Sighs TCM 1

My Dog Sighs TCM 2

My Dog Sighs TCM 3

My Dog Sighs TCM 5

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Strong Island Clothing Co.

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