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.