Strong Island Co.

SNUB23 End of Show Party at Play Dead Tonight

Tonight is the end of exhibition party for the current SNUB23 show over at Play Dead, which will include an awesome raffle for original artwork and live painting. Also a great chance to check the show if you missed it, meet the artist and grab a free beer or three.

SNUB23 End of Show (2)


SNUB23 at Play Dead

Portsmouth Talent Development Programme

The Portsmouth Cultural Trust is submitting a Grants for Arts application to Arts Council which will focus on developing talent throughout the Portsmouth area. The aim of this initial 2-year programme is to engage with emerging to mid-term artists from all art-forms. Working with partner organisations in and around the local area Portsmouth Cultural Trust aim to build upon existing platforms and to explore new opportunities which will encourage new work, touring, artist development, mentoring and best practise.

Who is this programme for? Artists who either work in the arts professionally, or seek to work in the arts professionally and who are creating new work. You might be a musician, visual artist, choreographer, dancer, director, producer, writer or poet.

On Tuesday the 3rd May at 5.30pm at Portsmouth Guildhall there will be an artist consultation where local artists can find out more about the talent development programme, if you are interested in going please email

Southsea Sound Recording Studio Open Day This Saturday

Southsea Sound is a new recording studio and rehearsal space in the heart of Southsea, just off of Albert Road (behind Portsmouth Ink Tattoo Studio and the SouthScene Cafe). The studio has already in the weeks since opening been home to bands and artists both from Portsmouth and from much further afield. Southsea Sounds this Saturday will be open to the public from 11am to 4pm, with a chance for all to come and visit the newest addition to the Southsea music scene. Come and have a look round, speak to the owners and enjoy some live music throughout the day too.

Live music on the day will be by:

Pete Rapp, from 1pm.
Ismael Clark, from 2:30pm.

No tickets are required, but please be aware there is limited space. Parking is available on the surrounding streets, but no parking is allowed in the alleyway where the studio is situated due to it being for residential use only.

Find out more about Southsea Sound at their Facebook page, their Twitter and their website:

Southsea Sound (1)

Southsea Sound (2)

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier

Illustrator Scott Collier’s work recently really caught our eye, so we thought we would find out a bit more about Scott and his highly detailed illustration. All the more so with the new series of Game of Thrones dropping this weekend…

How did you get started in illustration?
I have always drawn for as long as I can remember. My Grandfather was an exceptional oil painter and by spending a lot of time with him influenced my passion for Illustration. It was a subject I got on well with at home and was quite good at from an early age.

What sort of things inspire your work? Other artists & Illustrators?
I am a huge fan of TV shows and films, from classics to current releases which most of my work is based on. I have always had a fascination with TV, as a kid I grew up reading Transformers comic books and later on Frank Millers’ 300 and Sin City works. The inked illustrations are incredible because of the unusual perspectives he uses. I have some of his books on my shelf. This encouraged my love of black and white illustration in particular, greyscale and monotones are my preference. Colour is something I have to work hard at.

My favourite illustrators at the moment are Tyler Stout, Hellovon, Ken Taylor, Matt Taylor and Kingsley Nebechi however this list could be never ending. Also I Love Dust is a company that I follow closely.

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier - Back to the Future II
Scott Collier – Back to the Future II.

Your work reminds us a bit of Tyler Stout, is his work an inspiration?
Tyler Stout is an illustrator I discovered recently. I have to say, since seeing his artwork it has influenced on me. The level of detail Tyler uses is something I try to replicate in my own work. Detail has always been a strength of mine and it’s people like Tyler who keep me working harder for it!

What is your process for creating a piece of work? Freehand or digital?
I try to do both freehand and digital work. I started off very much freehand working with thick papers, inks, brushes, different pens and pencils but It really depends on time. Graphic tablets developed and because of the added benefits of working digital (can be edited and manipulated greatly) I switched to that to see what it was like. I would love to do more things freehand but time constraints make it difficult. I have gotten into a good rhythm with digital at the moment. I started off with a Bamboo tablet years ago, then a Cintiq and then for more convenience I recently (December 2015) bought the Surface Pro.

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier - Back to the Future II WIP

Some of your designs you’re made available on tees, are you looking at developing your designs in to that area?
I would love to do more designs for t-shirts specifically. I have many graphic Tees in my own wardrobe. But the t-shirt designs I currently sell are part of a wider apparel selection using some great websites that sell my designs. I sold a GoT Tyrion portrait throw blanket and cushion cover which was really cool. I also create my own lettering and typography by freehand and then vectorise in illustrator, I would love some of that printed on Tees. The great thing about t-shirts is everyone wears them.

You reference a lot of popular culture favourites, what are your favourite subjects to work with these days?
My favourite subjects have always been creating portraits of people. Whether that is real celebrities or popular fictional characters, I just love it. Capturing their expression and summarising their character in an illustration can be quite powerful. Being able to capture the exact look of a person is a something that I have always challenged myself with. I have developed this by doing several character portraits and placing them together. When I am excited about a TV show or film release, I want to express that excitement by posting my portraits on social media to celebrate the storylines and life like characters with other people who share the same interest.

I am thinking of producing a House of Cards illustration in the near future (this is currently one of my favourite shows).

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier - Game of Thrones
Scott Collier – Game of Thrones.

With the new series of Game of Thrones dropping on Sunday, you’ve been dropping on your Instagram some GoT work, who is your favourite character?
My Favourite Game of Thrones character is Bronn, he has by far the best one liners in the show. His dry wit is joy to watch in the episodes and I would be huge backer of a Bronn spin off! He is also one of the main characters that hasn’t been killed off yet! (fingers crossed!)

A big thank you to Scott for sharing his work, you can see more below and be sure to follow Scott on Instagram and visit Scott’s website:

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier - Breaking Bad
Scott Collier – Breaking Bad.

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier - Joaquin Phoenix (levels)
Scott Collier – Joaquin Phoenix (levels).

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier - Darth Vader Close Up
Scott Collier – Darth Vader Close Up.

Created Local with Illustrator Scott Collier - Batman
Scott Collier – Batman.

Exhibition of Photography by Meryem Amelia at The Kings Theatre

The Kings Theatre on Albert Road has for the last few years been home to not just performances on the main stage but also exhibitions of art and photography in the public spaces by the circle and bar. The exhibitions of artwork get seen by 1000s of people a month and often focus on different elements of Portsmouth.

Currently on show is an exhibition by local photographer Meryem Amelia who has her first exhibition on the walls from now until the 2nd of May, with many of her photos featuring the city. The exhibition is also open to the public on Thursday and Saturdays via the theatre box office, so if you’re passing get a look.

Below are a couple of examples of the images on show.

Photography by Meryem Amelia (1)

Photography by Meryem Amelia (2)

Photos from Southsea Seafront & Southsea Rowing Club Photo Walkshop

Saturday morning we were out in the sun (well, while it lasted anyway) along Southsea seafront for our 17th photo walkshop. The sold out walkshop started off at the foot of the new Solent wheel ride at Clarence Pier, the latest landmark in the city. We looked at triptych ways of documenting a scene and also using reflections on windows and puddles. We made our way down to the hovercraft and used some different focusing and composition techniques in capturing the busy Solent. As the weather took a little turn for the worse and the sky turned grey and the sea turned green we made it to Southsea Rowing Club just in time. The club had kindly agreed to let us explore their boathouse on this walkshop, with a rare glimpse at the craft as well as the different equipment, etc. With the sun back out we finished up the walkshop looking at using depth of field when photographing one of their craft ready for the water.

The next photo walkshop is at the beautiful East Head, with us looking at the sand banks and the sand dunes. This and all the new spring and early summer walkshops in Portsmouth and at Emsworth, Hamble, Lee on Solent and more spots on the south coast can be booked HERE, the walkshops are 2 hours long and only £10. We also have a couple of walkshops with Chichester Harbour Conservancy that are 3 hours long too.

Photos from Saturday’s walkshop are below, you can find out all about the Strong Island photography walkshops at:

Illustrated Menagerie at Portsmouth Guildhall

Illustrated Menagerie, an annual project undertaken by first year BA (Hons) Illustration students at the School of Art and Design, and curated by senior lecturer in Illustration Nicola Hay, has been selected by a panel of judges for a group exhibition of work to be displayed in Portsmouth Guildhall.

Bears, dogs, foxes, goats, sharks, hawks, cats, toads, stags and rats are just some of many animals the characteristics of which Shakespeare imbues his characters. As part of the ‘Much Ado about Portsmouth’ festival in April 2016, Portsmouth will be host to a festival marking the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. These animals are just some of the thirty one creatures featured in the group piece which will be on display from 9am – 5pm every weekday and 10am – 2pm on Saturdays in the Freda Swain Business Lounge.

The Illustrated Menagerie is taking part in this year’s Much Ado About Portsmouth festival focusing on Shakespeare’s Animals for its subject matter and has created a scroll illustrating the animals of Shakespeare attempting to imbue the illustrations with something of the spirit Shakespeare intended. The imagery reflects the range of exploration of media and imagery to convey the creatures and is as varied as the animals themselves.

Central to the nature of the project is the research undertaken by the students to get ‘under the skin’ of their animal of choice, to seek to represent it in a wide variety of ways, and explore and test the results against Shakespeare’s literal and figurative use of animals in his writings. The interdisciplinary breadth of research will have students looking at their animal literally from the inside out and involves a thorough understanding of the physiology, behavior and habitat of the creature as well as the history of its representation, its social and cultural meanings and of course how its characteristics are employed within Shakespeare’s plays.

Launch Event: 6pm, Friday 22 April
Dates: 22 April – 7th June 2016
Weekdays: 9am–5pm
Saturdays: 10am–2pm

Find out more about this month’s ‘Much Ado about Portsmouth’ festival at:

Illustrated Menagerie at Portsmouth Guildhall

Sky’s Windows by Ann Quinn & Life’s Funny by Catherine Barron at Jack House Gallery

Jack House Gallery is set to be home to work by two artists, both women, both Irish and both producing extraordinarily personal paintings in very different ways. This paring of exhibitions includes ‘Sky’s Windows’ by Ann Quinn & ‘Life’s Funny’ by Catherine Barron and opens later this week.

‘Sky’s Windows’ paintings by Ann Quinn is a first opportunity to see this artist’s work in the UK, although she exhibits regularly in Ireland. Ann hails from rural Donegal and her family’s farm and it’s landscape often feature in her beautiful and deeply felt paintings which explore surface and texture in layers of colour to evoke her sense of being ‘in’ the place. A green foggy landscape lies under a rolling sky of grey, bleached Iranian villages bask below a blazing blue canopy, an empty Dublin street sits under a stormy dusk. Ann Quinn’s skies are as rich and varied as the land beneath them.

‘Life’s Funny’ paintings by Catherine Barron is again a uniquely personal collection of work which will resonate with anyone who has a draw full of old family snaps we’ve meaning to go through. Catherine’s painstakingly executed paintings on degraded sheet metal in glossy enamel-like acrylic inks depict photographic images of her family and extended family, the once youthful aunties, the now grown up playmate cousins, the child and tricycle in front of a vaguely remembered front garden and the young versions of her parents squinting into the sun in their best clothes careful not to ruin the moment to be caught on precious kodak film.

The connection between these two parts of the exhibition is how both the artists endeavour to communicate their sense of belonging and their ‘place’, Ann Quinn in a physical space and Catherine Barron in a family history and time.

The exhibitions begin with a private view from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday 21st April and then the shows run from 22nd April to 28th May. Find out more on the Jack House Gallery website:

Sky's Windows by Ann Quinn

Life's Funny by Catherine Barron

Record Store Day in Castle Road with Pie & Vinyl

This Saturday saw Castle Road become a focal point in the city for vinyl and live music with Record Store Day taking over the whole street. With the earliest ever queue starting outside Pie & Vinyl on the Friday afternoon through to Saturday morning’s line of people running up Castle Road to the Barley Mow before 8am, the anticipation for the now annual day of celebrating independent record shops was stronger than ever. With the street closed off to traffic with a main stage at the top and a small performance area outside Pie & Vinyl, live music kicked things off as the doors opened and people got their teeth in to Record Store Day special releases from bands such as The Charlatans, Manic Street Preachers and more. Down the street were different stalls from many local businesses, from food & drink (such as Bread Addiction) to local creatives (such as Angela Chick) to local record labels like our own Strong Island Recordings, the street was packed. All the shops along the street also got heavily involved too, with a fantastic atmosphere and 1000s filling the road throughout Saturday and on the Sunday too.

When it came to the live shows, people from all over Portsmouth and further afield got involved as bands such as Smoke Fairies, Plastic Mermaids and even a reformed Emptifish played sets. Band of Skulls were arguably the biggest name to play on the day, with a stripped back acoustic set of current and new songs.

No doubt Record Store Day in the city has grown hugely in the last few years, excited to see what happens in the future too. Props go out to the crew at Pie & Vinyl and the rest of the organisers for all their hard work on creating a really positive community event with a passion for music at its core. Goes without saying too that just like dogs aren’t just for Christmas, your local record stores aren’t just for Record Store Day, hit them up for your music fix and keep them going strong.

Smoke Fairies at RSD 2016 by Joe Watson
Smoke Fairies at RSD 2016 by Joe Watson.
Plastic Mermaids at RSD 2016 by Joe Watson
Plastic Mermaids at RSD 2016 by Joe Watson.
Plastic Mermaids at RSD 2016 by Joe Watson
Plastic Mermaids at RSD 2016 by Joe Watson.
Band of Skulls at RSD 2016
Band of Skulls at RSD 2016.

Portsmouth Water Polo Club

One of the best things about writing for Strong Island is how it creates opportunities to meet people around Portsmouth and to be introduced to new & different creative, cultural or sport activities that they have a passion for. Earlier this month I popped down to Mountbatten Leisure Centre to visit the guys at Portsmouth Water Polo Club.

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (29)

The Portsmouth City Water Polo (PCWP) club was established in August 2009 to cater for an increased demand for a water polo team in Portsmouth. The club was initially setup under Portsmouth City Council’s – Back to Sports Programme to help promote the club locally and now they are a fully registered ASA water polo club competing in the Hampshire league. The club has training sessions on Thursday evenings in the main pool at Mountbatten and has different groups for different ages and abilities, with the first session for free.

I was aware of the sport previously from seeing the odd clip on TV but had never seen the sport played in person. The game is thought to have originated in Scotland in the late 19th century as a sort of “water rugby” and at a first glance that sort of makes sense. For the first part of the training session it was great seeing the trainers work with the players on different training activities, very similar to rugby or football training, for example. With work on core swimming techniques, passing, movement and (I guess) ‘dribbling’ the ball, you could see immediately the appeal of the sport for fitness and for becoming very relaxed and comfortable in the water.

You don’t have to be a great swimmer to get started and the training builds confidence fast, and with Water Polo being played at a depth where you cannot touch the bottom, you quickly improve. The juniors were having fun, competitive and fast with the ball. With the seniors you could see the depth of skill and the power you could play the special ball with.

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (17)

With the training finished it was time for a competitive match with the large floating goals at each end of the 25 metre ‘half’ pool. The teams were a mix of experience, gender, age and skills, with one of them donning the recognisable Water Polo caps, designed to allow you to quickly see your fellow team players in the pool and to protect your ears. The match was fast and furious, quickly changing from one end to the next as players took the ball down to the goals, passing through a flurry of defending hands and huge sprays of water. It was clear that there was a lot of subtlety to the sport with balls lobbed, ‘bounced’ off the surface with spins, players passing and moving and the goalkeeper working to break down the shooting angles, as well as using power to leap from the water to block any attempts on goal. The game consists of 4 quarters and the teams play a lot like basketball or ice hockey with players swapping in and out of the pool.

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (25)

For a first visit and a first real experience of Water Polo I had a great time (out of the water – not the best swimmer) and regretted I hadn’t brought along my trunks. The club was really welcoming and friendly, the members were all clearly passionate & dedicated about their sport and it was fantastic be invited. If you want to get involved you can pop along to their training sessions and have your first session free (you can book HERE). If you want to have a watch, the club plays matches until the end of the season at the end of the month before the summer break, the upcoming fixtures are HERE. Also there is a big competition in Portsmouth later this year too.

To find out more visit the Portsmouth Water Polo Club website at:

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (15)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (14)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (7)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (1)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (5)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (6)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (3)

Portsmouth Water Polo Club (2)

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Fog Lights!

I love fog, even more so at night time because all the street lights are on and it’s like this weird eerie zombie town. People appear out of no where and even cars creep up on you before you notice them in the deathly silence of the fog. I watched, or should I say waited, as the the Hovercraft came over from The Isle of Wight. I could hear the roar of the engines for five minutes till I could actually see the craft as it pulled on to shore. Spooky.

My little point and shoot isn’t much cop in low light fog but there are a few more over on my Flickr

Harbour Tour

If you’re brave enough at this chilly time of year head on down to Gunwharf and take a tour around the home of the modern Navy. With aircraft carriers, the HMS Ark Royal, HMS Illustrious and Invincible, there’s plenty to see. Oh, and they sell beer on board.

HMS Vanguard (1960)

Man, these photos are pretty damn epic. Both show the HMS Vangaurd that went aground just feet away from alongside the Still & West and Spice Island in 1960.

“On 4 August 1960, when she was to be towed from Portsmouth to the breakers yard at Faslane, Scotland, the whole of the Southsea sea front was packed with people to see her off. As she was being towed towards the harbour entrance, she slewed across the harbour to the Still & West public house and went aground. She was eventually pulled off by tugs and finally made her exit from Portsmouth. Five days later she arrived at Faslane and by the spring of 1962 Vanguard ceased to exist, never having fired her guns in anger.” (from Wikipedia)

It’s also great to see that area of Old Portsmouth in detail from 50 years ago. There is no sea wall in place, some kind of out building on the corner of Spice Island, what looks like early dry dock developments and I love the way Broad Street goes straight in to the drink. See what you can see. Click the images for a much closer look.

Via : Jainbow

Vintage Photography – Sunny Southsea

Following on from photos of The bandstand and Tennis Courts the other week, here’s another scan from Khalid.

Back before East Jet in the late 1940s, early 1950s people flocked to Southsea seafront. Check the beach huts near Canoe Lake. Dozens of them and the Paddling Pool which is now occupied by the Sealife Centre. Love the little train to the right of the picture. Click for a closer look.

The Old Portsmouth and The New Southsea

Gareth Colwell sent us these amazing scans from a vintage book called ‘The Old Portsmouth and The New Southsea. “It was an old book of my Grandads’ we found when going through some of his old stuff that had been packed away for years. I love the paintings and the written bits, especially describing Southsea Common as “a dismal spot in the old days. Footpads and cut-throats roamed at night, and a murderer hung in chains on the edge of the shingle”

A really interesting read so I won’t say anymore and let the book do all the talking. Check out the full set of scans over at Gareths Flickr.

Southsea Seagulls

How good was the weather on Sunday. Albeit cold, it was a belter for sure. Me and Liz hit up the seafront for fish & chips and inadvertently got involved with dive bombing seagulls. They love them chips…

Photography : Tristan

RETROSPECTIVE – Vintage Portsmouth & Southsea

“Since Strong Island began back in 2008 we have amassed an incredible amount of historical information about Portsmouth & Southsea’s past. These articles are not only from our own interest and passion about the city, but also from readers that have sent us some amazing facts. So much has changed in such a relatively short amount of time and the fast pace of life around us can make it easy to forget the importance of this cities history.

Retrospective‘ takes a look back at some of our previous posts incase you missed them in the past or you’re one of our new readers. One day myself and Paul hope to create a stand alone archive here utilising all the books and photos we have collected that haven’t made it on to Strong Island as of yet. With permission of course! So much to do and so little time. Enjoy.”

This is one seriously awesome vintage photography collection from Pop Olive33 that I found on Flickr a while back (sadly no longer active). Check out Osborne Road and Guildhall. Just incredible. It’s hard to imagine a time when traffic flowed through Guildhall, and that was only in 1968 and the shot looking west down Osborne Road is amazing. Trams, horses, grand buildings, a traffic cop, ladies & gents. It’s all going on…

Originally published Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Vintage Portsmouth & Southsea

Awesome vintage photography collection from Pop Olive33 that I found on Flickr a while back. Check out Osborne Road and Guildhall. Epic. Hard to imagine a time when traffic flowed through Guilders, and that was only in 1968 and the shot looking west down Osborne Road is amazing. Trams, horses, grand buildings, a traffic cop, ladies & gents. It’s all going on. To view the full collection head over to Pop Olive’s Flickr photostream HERE and the Portsmouth set HERE.

Bricks & More Ta

Illustration – Tristan

Vintage Skatepark Photographs

I’ve been holding on to these truly amazing vintage photographs that Simon Tiller kindly sent in as we went through a pretty heavy skateboard period and thought we should chill back a little. Loving the roller hockey team photos too. The 1978 trophies photo is a epic and they were British Champions in 1973 too. Belated congratulations to you all.

This is just a small picking from the Southsea Skatepark website Check them out and if you see anyone you recognise or want to bring something to our attention then remember to add your comments at the bottom of this post.

Special props to the final photo and all the Southsea boys representing ‘back in the day’. Some young looking faces there. Rippers.

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