Strong Island Co.

Art, Craft & Design

‘Under The Spotlight’ Exhibition at The Coastguard Studio

Southsea’s latest gallery space, the Coastguard Studio is due to host its second major exhibition on Friday 13th February, hot on the heels of My Dog Sighs’ and Midge’s arresting collaborative exhibition ‘Together in Solitude’.

‘Under The Spotlight’ will bring together over forty of the city’s creatives working in fields varying from photography and textiles to sculpture and light installations, encompassing as many mediums as can be found. The exhibition aims to demonstrate the sheer diversity of creative talent and skill that the city currently fosters. Each artist has been invited to submit work, either new or from archive, to fill an A1 space lit by its own spotlight, providing each individual with an equal area and only their creative decisions determining what is displayed. Featuring high profile and emerging, amateur and professional artists alike, the exhibition will be a true reflection of the current state of Portsmouth’s art and design sector.

Works will be for sale at the discretion of each artist but a limited run of forty screen printed posters of the ‘Under the Spotlight’ poster will be available on the night. Entry is free but RSVPing to the Facebook event is encouraged. A full list of exhibiting artists is also available on the Facebook page.

Short Story Competition – Open To Submissions

We are really excited to announce that our short story competition is now open to submissions. 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, but 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 run until 25th March, 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 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


Strong Island Co. Exhibitions: EQUINOX by Joanna Dawson

Strong Island Co. is proud to announce the first external exhibition our in store gallery space will host. From January 28th to February 18th, local artist Joanna Dawson will be exhibiting EQUINOX, a collection of large format, mixed media abstract landscapes with a focus on coastlines near and far from her travels.

Joanna is no stranger to utilising mixed media and unusual paint substitutes, dabbling in gouache, watercolour, acrylic and even tea and coffee staining to create her works. Working as a professional artist and designer allows her the space to explore her creative direction and conduct these material experiments.

To find out more about Joanna, her work and the exhibition, give her a follow on Instagram to keep up to date with her happenings in the run up to the exhibition.

Spaces Available at White Elephant

White Elephant over in Eastney is a studio/workspace/exhibition space and they’re looking for people who might be interested in taking on one of their spaces for a studio or as a selling stall. You would be joining a team that already includes artists, editors, photographers, designers and more.

You can visit White Elephant at 48b Cromwell Road or give them a call at 02392 177311.

Studio Spaces Available at White Elephant

Ashcroft Arts Centre Looking for Group Leaders for New Youth Arts Project

Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham have recently received funding to run a new Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots Project entitled No Facebook? OMG! The project will be an exciting opportunity for 45 young people aged 14-18 to explore the impact and development of technology since the 1970s and work together to produce an exhibition or installation based on their research and experience.

Ashcroft Arts Centre are looking to recruit two dynamic group leaders to run groups in local (Fareham & Gosport) colleges or 6th forms. This will be a great opportunity for creative individuals to work closely with young people to inspire and equip them throughout the project. These are paid positions. You can view the full job description and project details HERE (PDF).

If you are interested in the role please email Lorna at Ashcroft couple of paragraphs explaining how your skills and experience fit the requirements by 26th January. If you have any questions please email Lorna too.

School Media Project
Photo from Ashcroft’s previous schools project.

Footnote For A Dream Exhibition

Following on from the Megamunden exhibition Kings Ship Tattoo‘s welcome local artist John Ainsworth for his ‘Footnote For A Dream’ exhibition. The event will be held on 30th January and runs from 7pm-9pm, with refreshments provided and the chance to get your hands on one of his work.

John’s use of extremely varied art mediums provide a unique take on his observations of the world around us. John uses of a wide variety of materials includes tea, coffee, and walnut ink as backgrounds for more traditional media. His work is also completed with drypoint and monoprinting: creative techniques that demand patience and an understanding of process and time.

His investigations into the world around him focus entirely on creating permanence in things that are transient and ephemeral, the skulls that are drawn are not a celebration or meditation on death but a way of describing an obsessive desire to collect things that most people overlook. Discarded feathers, lichen encrusted branches, expired beetles, lapsed hornets, corvid skulls and fox kills have all been sources of subject matter.

You can follow John on Twitter @whenwewerecows and on his Tumblr account. For more information check out the Facebook Event page HERE.


Created Local: Harry Maguire

One of the things we love most about having our shop on Highland Rd is being able to put faces to names and meeting people we would otherwise never be able to; Harry Maguire is one of those people. When Harry dropped by a couple of weeks ago, he off-hand mentioned that during his time as a sailor in the Royal Navy he had developed a penchant for making ships in a bottle, a craft gleaned from a fellow shipmate during periods of down time. Over the years, Harry has modelled various types of ships from small schooners to historic frigate warships, working from single photographs or just his own memory to build intricately detailed craft complete with full rigging and sails.

Of particular note is the model Harry made while on active duty in the Falklands conflict, a complete scale replica of Portsmouth’s own HMS Warrior. Lacking any reference to work from, Harry sent the Warrior Preservation Trust a letter requesting a photograph to which they dutifully replied to with a handful of images. Upon his return, Harry presented the model to the Warrior Trust who were so impressed with his work that it was put on display in one of the Officers’ Quarters aboard the ship – a spot it still resides in to this day.

Free CPD Workshops for Aspiring Artist Educators at Aspex Gallery

As part of aspex Gallery‘s upcoming New Educators programme with the University of Portsmouth, they are offering free spaces on the following CPD workshops for artists, supported by Artswork. Places are all strictly limited to 15 per workshop, so please follow the links below to reserve your place using Eventbrite.

Arts & the Curriculum
Monday 2nd February 1-4pm

A crash course in the curriculum for artists looking to develop their work in education settings. Alison Beane, Executive Headteacher of Mary Rose Academy and Cliffdale Academy, Portsmouth and teaching staff from Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance will deliver a session which will give you an overall understanding of the curriculum to enhance your workshops and tailor your offer to schools.


Arts and Literacy Masterclass with Ed Boxall
Tuesday 3rd February, 10am-12.30pm

Ed Boxall is an artist, writer and creative educator living in Hastings, England. He works in many areas such as printmaking, small scale book publishing, poetry, storytelling, songwriting and education. As an experienced Artist-Educator in schools, colleges, galleries and museums, Ed has a wealth of experience in delivering workshops and storytelling performances which provide first-class arts engagement and aid learning in Literacy. In this hands-on master class Ed will provide you with tips in how to devise workshops for education settings, which support the national curriculum with a focus on Literacy.


Arts and Numeracy Masterclass with Filskit Theatre
Tuesday 3rd February, 1.30-4pm

Katy Costigan & Sarah Gee of Filskit Theatre, have been working with Aspex since October 2014 to deliver a pilot arts and numeracy project with three schools in the city. Through weekly workshops the school groups have been developing visual art performances linked to their topic subjects. In these workshops Katy and Sarah have developed activities, which aim to increase the pupils attainment in numeracy, to demonstrate how the arts can be used within the classroom for cross-curriculum learning.

In this master class Katy & Sarah will share with you their learning from this project, some information about the areas of curriculum they focused on and activities that were particularly successful.


Free CPD Workshops for Aspiring Artist Educators at Aspex Gallery

Created Local – Tiana Pitman by Chantelle Wyatt

Tiana Pitman, a local Portsmouth born and raised artist has been making and crafting from a young age. Creating everything from sculptures, paintings, cards and books to up cycled jewellery and recycled nik naks, she now runs her own successful art business and is well know in the UK and abroad.

When asked about where and how it all began, Tiana told us, “I was raised in Portsmouth when times were hard. We spent summers with our Nan, Olive Dew, collecting stones and shells on Eastney beach or with our Mum, Margaret Pitman, finding pretty leaves and flowers or making Christmas decorations and cards. Life was about making your own entertainment and your own things and I was lucky enough to have some hugely creative women raising me, who inspired me to do the same with my children and even now with my grand children. We were never bored and never without anything we needed but it all came from being thrifty and learning how to make things.”

We see this very thing in our city today with fabulous local businesses all about getting us into crafts and it is really nice to hear about a local family who have done just that through the generations, one that reminds us to be artistic and creative and make more than perhaps we do now. To re use and recycle and to watch what we waste.

Tiana has made her passion to pass on these skills an active one and is now an ‘Artist in Residence’ at a local school where she works with 11-16 year olds at GCSE level. Believing whole heartedly that what she teaches is not only therapeutic and relaxing but are also skills for life. Tiana encourages Portsmouth to get creative and make as much as possible.

You can follow Tina on her wesbite, Facebook and on Twitter @tianaartist

By Chantelle Wyatt

Tiana Pitman

Tiana Pitman

Pink is a Problem Exhibition Opens Tomorrow at Make & The Craft Kitchen

Portmouth based art group MAMArt is a collective of mother artists organising pop-up exhibitions and events in Portsmouth, and encouraging women and male feminists to discuss current issues on parenthood in the studio. Created by a core of four raucous females who have reputations to upkeep both in the kitchen and on the Art platform, Charlotte Brisland, Penny Davis, Sadie Tierney and Kate Street.

Tomorrow sees the opening of MAMArt’s debut exhibition entitled ‘Pink is a Problem’, located at Make & The Craft Kitchen. Tomorrow sees the preview night is from 5-8pm, free entry and everyone is welcome. The exhibition featurs the work of local artists Roo Abrook, Mike Bartlett, Sarah Bowker-Jones, Charlotte Brisland, Roy Brown, Kirsty Crout, Penny Davis, Minuit de LaCroix, Rachel Pennington, Kate Street, Charlotte Thrane and Sadie Tierney (Roo and Sadie both featured in the Creating Balance project in 2013/2014).

On the opening night Dr. Emma Barker will be giving a talk on the art historical context of Pink. Barker first gave this talk in summer 2014 at the National Gallery in London and is one of the leading contemporary Art Historians in the UK. Some of her publications are Greuze and the Painting of Sentiment, 2005, The Changing Status of the Artist, 1999, Contemporary Cultures of Display, 1999. MAMArt are very happy to welcome her to the opening of their first show.

The Craft Kitchen will be serving non alcoholic pink punch with a hotdog for £3 at the Preview. You can find Make & The Craft Kitchen in Fratton at 1 Cornwall Road, Fratton, Portsmouth. PO1 5AA. Get in touch by phone on 023 9282 2026 or check their website at:

Pink is a Problem Exhibition Opens Tomorrow at Make & The Craft Kitchen (1)

Pink is a Problem Exhibition Opens Tomorrow at Make & The Craft Kitchen (2)

Pink is a Problem Exhibition Opens Tomorrow at Make & The Craft Kitchen (3)

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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

It’s going to be a Strong Movember – Join The Team

Righto chaps, keep that mighty moustache on the grow in support of Movember for The Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research. For 30 days of November you can help support and raise awareness through selflessly parading your top lip for charity.

You can sign up yourself, as I’m sure many of you already have, or you can join the Strong Island team and seek out sponsorship as a team. Through the Strong Island Movember page you can ask people to join the group, make donations, upload photos and post updates via the MoSpace page, Facebook and Twitter.

Head over to our MoSpace if you would like to get involved and grow a Strong Moustache to help raise awareness, or simply head over to and sign up to personally raise money.

The funds raised in the UK support the number one and two male specific cancers – prostate and testicular cancer. The funds raised are directed to programmes run directly by Movember and our men’s health partners, The Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research. Together, these channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programmes in line with our strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

Poster: Tristan Savage

Vintage Portsmouth Photographs

Following up from our Vintage Portsmouth Postcards article on Monday, Strong Island reader Centro Design posted a link to some rad old photographs of the city.

As always click read more at the bottom to see a small selection, but be sure to click this link to view all of them online.



Matt Saxey’s Bike Ride Photos

Head on over to Matts Flickr and check out a few more photos from last Sunday’s ride. Great photos that really help capture the event.



Submarine Graveyard

Portsmouth’s Pounds scrapyard has been the final stop for the lives of many military vehicles over the years but most noticeable it has been the location for a submarine graveyard. So iconic was the sight of the submarines as you entered Portsmouth that they became the inspiration for the architect when designing the new swimming pool at the Mountbatten Centre.

Robin Hinson has a large collection of photos of the scrapped submarines here, with a few shown below.

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