Strong Island Co.

Art, Craft & Design

One Day Art Exhibition by Melanie Brundrit Today in the Sir Loin of Beef

Local artist/painter Melanie Brundrit is having a one day pop-up exhibition in The Sir Loin of Beef pub on Highland Road today from 12 noon through to 9pm. Melanie works in different styles and all the work is original and for sale.

You can see an example of Melanie Brundrit’s work below and see more of her work on her website:

Melanie Brundrit

Play Dead Opening Night

Tomorrow night you are invited to celebrate the grand opening of Play Dead located at 131 Highland Road in Southsea. Play Dead is Southsea’s newest Tattoo Studio and Street Art Gallery by Street Artist Lex Luthor and Tattooist Samo White.

The event begins at 7pm and I’d recommend getting yourself down there early so you can sample the Play Dead beer!

For more information check out the Facebook Page here.

Play Dead

Created in Portsmouth Art Trail Returns for 3rd Year from 16th to 18th October

Created in Portsmouth returns again for its third year this month, with local artists, jewellers, makers, designers, painters, glassmakers and more open the doors to their studios and workplaces to the public. This event really brings the focus to the city from other county-wide events and for three days (16th to 18th October) means you can experience the creative and exhibition workspaces that are home to over 20 local creatives in 11 different locations. With all of these locations within fairly easy walk of each other you can really explore Created in Portsmouth as an arts trail, working from one location to the next, seeing and experiencing the work of the artists as you go.

The creatives involved are:

– Lesley George
– Shake Your Glass & Emma Nicol
– Kevin Dean
– The Southsea Workbench
– Colin Merrin, Trudy Barber & “Smock & Ballpoint”
– Copper Hare, Printsink & Southsea Jewellery
– Maggie Ambler
– Evagelia Hagikalfa, Tracy Hodder & Conor Devine
– Sue Meredith Illustration & Katherine Webber Jewellery
– Little Duck Forge & Donna Carter
– Dancingpot & Sheila Mackie

Check the Creating in Portsmouth website for full details of the event, the artists and the locations:

Creating in Portsmouth 2015

Creating in Portsmouth 2015 - Colin Merrin
Ghost Ring by Colin Merrin.

Creating in Portsmouth 2015 - Emma Nichol
Cushion by Emma Nichol.

Street Art Project At Make & The Craft Kitchen

This weekend, as part of the Democracy Street project run by Portsmouth artist, Jon Adams and with funding help from Fratton Big Local, My Dog Sighs and Joe Cavalla worked with a group of around thirty young people to create a collaborative mural on the side of Make & The Craft Kitchen in Cornwall Road, Fratton.

Democracy Street is a participative, national, digital and public arts project that will result in new, artistic maps of the UK based on user generated content. Data will be gathered through an app on mobiles, which will enable people to explore UK streets that share the same names as Parliamentarians from the past 800 years and the creation of these new, reimagined and artistic maps will be exhibited in November 2015 in Parliament.

Public engagement is at the heart of the project and Jon’s motivation arose from making art and art spaces interactive.

Kids gathered this weekend and were taught to use stencils and spray paints to produce drop shadow arrows as a background for My Dog’s amazing mural. The reflection that can be seen in the eye’s depicts the young people who took part.

My Dog Sighs was delighted to help host the event and to motivate the local community to get out and about and to decorate the city they live in.

Hesta Dalton and Nicola Bates from Make & The Craft Kitchen were thrilled to have the project on their doorstep, adding to their firmly set business ethic that everyone can be creative, a very empowering concept.







Photographs by Chantelle Wyatt and Paul Stone.

Hotwalls Studios Revealed to the Public as the Project Begins

Sunday saw the doors of the Round Tower open up to the public as part of an event sharing the final plan, designs and branding for Hotwalls Studios, the new name for the creative quarter in Old Portsmouth. We’ve featured this project on numerous occasions in recent years (was called the ARTches Project previously) and it was great to see this project on Sunday transition from careful planning in to action. Back in 2011 Strong Island held the first exhibition in the Round Tower which was part of the first look by Portsmouth City Council at the space finally being opened up to the public and for more creative use of the area in general. The arches in the Hotwalls have been home to Sunday art sales going back to the late 50s too so the area has a long creative and cultural story to tell as this new chapter at this historic monument begins.

Hotwalls Studios was officially announced yesterday with the clean new branding for the 13 new studios plus cafe and brasserie. As well as the logo and branding on display there were also the architectural plans, from the technical footprint of the building and its use all the way through to the furniture, doors, signs, fixtures and fittings…giving a real sense of how the space will look in summer 2016 when it opens.

Outside the Round Tower on Sunday you also had Pompey Pluckers performing as well as the Southsea Night Markets selling their creative items, painter John R Pearson with his diverse artwork on show, screen-printer and artist Spencer with his Petting Zoo prints plus refreshments provided by the Square Tower. Also getting involved was local painter and sketcher Chris Webb with other sketchers drawing and painting the Hotwalls, with artists from Bournemouth and Fareham getting involved. All in all it was a great start to this new phase in this long awaited project.

The Hotwalls Studios will be home to a community of creatives using the 13 studio spaces homed in the arches, akin to studio spaces and creative organisations like the new Ocean Studios in Plymouth and Leigh Park’s Making Space. These old battery arches will be completely re-invigorated with new glass walls giving lots of natural light and opening these work spaces up to the public to allow them to discover the art, design & making taking place inside. Applications of interest to have a studio are still being accepted but there has already been incredible interest shown, indicating a very real desire for these new homes to new and small businesses in the creative sector in the city. It will also be encouraged that these studios are very much ‘open door’ with the tenants not just welcoming the 1000s of people who pass through this area but also selling their craft and artwork.

The brasserie and cafe will also draw people in to this creative quarter, with over 40 covers plus the incredible terrace overlooking the Solent and the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour from the Round Tower. Expect this to be a huge draw for visitors and locals alike.

Work begins from next month with the hoardings going up around the site, with the expected completion date to be early summer in 2016. You can now keep up to date with developments via the new Hotwalls Studios social media (@HotwallsStudios on Twitter and Instagram) with a website coming soon. You can also sign up for updates on developments and to show interest on taking on a studio or the brasserie/cafe HERE.

You can seem more photos from Sunday’s event below.

Wayne Hemingway Announced as Design Champion for Portsmouth Guildhall

Portsmouth Guildhall announced last month about their exciting plans for their Renaissance Project: a £15 million pound to preserve, open up and redevelop the multi-faceted arts venue with a ten year masterplan. The options appraisal and draft masterplan has been carried out by Foster Wilson Architects (FWA), a leading architectural practice with an international reputation for the design of cultural buildings and creative spaces. FWA have worked on high profile projects with theatres and music venues in the past including places such as the legendary Hammersmith Apollo.

Yesterday afternoon Portsmouth Guildhall announced their Design Champions for the project: HemingwayDesign, lead by designer Wayne Hemingway. HemingwayDesign will meet with the architects to progress the future designs where they will test, visualise and build on FWA’s work and create material that can help to form public discussion – something that can be used to attract potential sponsors and partners. They will also focus on aspects such as design, programming and identity. HemmingwayDesign have recently worked with Dreamland in Margate, Transport for London, Royal Doulton and the Imperial War Museum. Wayne Hemingway has close connections to the south and links to the city already so it is exciting to imagine how this project will progress and develop in the near future.

“The Guildhall is a sleeping giant with loads of potential; there are so many spaces that can be used for new and exciting things. I don’t look at this as just being the Guildhall, it is a complex – a place for all…This should be the beating heart of Portsmouth. At the moment the Guildhall feels cold, it doesn’t feel alive – I want it to feel alive”. – Wayne Hemingway.

Democracy Street Mural With My Dog Sighs at Make & The Craft Kitchen

Earlier this year My Dog Sighs worked with the guys behind the innovative web app Democracy Street on a Free Art Friday workshop that explored creativity related to Portsmouth streets and the history behind their names (you can watch the film of the workshop HERE). This weekend the collaboration continues between My Dog Sighs, Jon Adams’ Democracy Street project and Fratton Big Local with Democracy Street Mural at Make & The Craft Kitchen. Young people can get involved with Democracy Street Mural by coming along to the FREE street art painting workshop from 10am on Saturday 12th September at Make & The Craft Kitchen located 1 Cornwall Rd, Fratton, Portsmouth PO1 5AA.

For Democracy Street Mural My Dog Sighs will be creating another of his iconic ‘eye’ murals, but will be giving locals the unique opportunity to contribute directly to the creation of the piece by teaching street art painting techniques to anyone between the ages of 6 to 16.

Bring the kids along, and enjoy a cuppa at the Craft Cafe while they get creative learning how to combine stencils and spray cans to great effect!

Register for the event HERE.

Democracy Street Mural With My Dog Sighs at Make & The Craft Kitchen

Stencilism A Cut Above Exhibition in Southampton Featuring Portsmouth Art and Photography

Southampton City Art Gallery will be host to a new stencil art exhibition later this month that will feature artwork by eight different street artists, including pieces by Portsmouth stencil master M-One. M-One has been heavily involved with the local scene in this city for a long time, with some striking, intricately detailed designs and rich colour palettes…great to see his work in a big gallery on the South Coast.

Other work on show will include pieces by international artists Czarnobyl, Otto Schade, Orticanoodles and Stickee.

Accompanying Stencilism: A Cut Above will be ‘Walls’ by Portsmouth street photographer Matt Maber in the gallery foyer, a photography exhibition which documents street artists and their work across the UK. We’ve featured Matt’s work on numerous occasions and its great to see him involved.

Stencilism: A Cut Above & Walls will run from the 18th September 2015 to the 23rd January 2016, with opening times of Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm. Admission is FREE.

Stencilism: A Cut Above

Photo by Matt Maber
Photo by Matt Maber.

Photo by Matt Maber
Photo by Matt Maber.

Portsmouth Street Games by Adam Reeves
M-One stencil art at Portsmouth Street Games by Adam Reeves.

Kate Thelwell Exhibition At King’s Ship Tattoo

Tomorrow evening from 7pm King’s Ship Tattoo on Marmion Road present the opening of their latest exhibition by Kate Thelwell.

Kate specialises in private painting and illustration commissions, poster and flyer design and undertaken creative workshops with both children and adults. I’ve had a little sneak peak and the exhibition shows off some of Kate’s most creative and imaginative paintings. I wouldn’t say there is a comparison with styles but Kate’s work certainly reminded me of world famous artist Ralph Steadman‘s work.

If you can’t make it down tomorrow then fear not the exhibition will be open for a few weeks yet. For more information on the exhibition and the shop opening times check out the King Ship’s Facebook page.

Kate Thelwell Poster

Victorious Festival 2015 Review – A Festival For The Whole Family (Part One)

This year’s Victorious Festival had an utterly outstanding family feel that was created with passion by the organisers to ensure that people of all ages could enjoy the weekend and have no shortage of things to do.

The expanded Kids Arena offered its very own stage with kids entertainers wowing young onlookers with personalities including  Mr Bloom and the Octonauts.

Families donned wellies and rain jackets and made the most of the free activities. The beach arena allowed people to sit in deck chairs outside beach huts with Punch and Judy shows, bouncy castles and a play pen area on offer for toddlers to enjoy. For those with a sweet tooth you could get your hands on carnival treats such as candy floss and of course face painting was available for the young’ens and not so young’ens!

This year also offered a seating, a baby change and breast feeding area to accommodate parents. In true festival style Victorious even offered the Ickle Bambino Baby Raves area so that adults could share their love of music with the little people in their lives. It was nice to be able to take the little ones somewhere to dance without the crowds.

The Kids Arena was well set out making it easy for everyone to move around as well as offering and environment where we felt safe and could relax. We took advantage of the many picnic spots and it was great that there were plenty of toilets available as children aren’t always the best at queuing for them. One other nice touch was the ID wristbands that were also given to parents and carers so they could write their emergency contact details for their children just in case they managed to get lost.

Victorious made every effort to meet the needs of families and children were left feeling included whilst imaginations were left to run riot and adventures were had. I’m not sure who was more exhausted by the end of the day as the kids or the adults in my group both slept well once we got home.





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Amazing Vintage Naval Posters

I found these truly amazing posters on one of my many Flickr travels. All circa 1930s and all fantastic. Click the images for the direct links to Flickr.

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.

Kings Theatre

The Kings Theatre in Southsea is continuing is restorations, this afternoon they were taking the roof top away, we’re assuming for some repairs and maintenance work.

Strong Island Easter Bike Ride Video

The guys over at have put together a nice little edit from the Bike Ride on April 4th. It really shows the vibe of the day well. Good times. I better get on the phone and book the Police escort for August.

Created Local – Inksquatch

Here’s an interesting little blog I stumbled upon. Inksquatch are a collective of Portsmouth based artists, illustrators and designers that comprises of four people working on anything from books, maps, sculptures, bags, badges, you name it from the sound of things. Check out their BLOG and WEBSITE for more info.


Southsea Flats by Cat

Portsmouth on Film – Episode 2

A new episode of Jonathan & Matthew Ring’s vintage family footage ‘Portsmouth on Film’ went up this week.

This episode has focuses on Canoe Lake and the Model Village.

South Parade Pier

We’ve mentioned Diana Goss on Strong Island before. A touch of class behind the lens and a really nice lady.

Here’s another great example of Diana’s work in this Cross Processed, 120 shot of South Parade Pier.


There’s Snow Day like a Snow Day

Tom Time Waster © just put a few more photos from last months snow day in Portsmouth. Cool photos as always, but I focused on the spills and slams. We saw some kids take proper slams that day. Lots of broken tailbones for sure. Good times.

Our Langstone Harbour Trip with the RSPB

On a grey yet thankfully dry Sunday morning if I had a Portsmouth bucket list, I had one of the items near the top ticked off with a boat trip with the RSPB. Personally, I’ve always loved Langstone Harbour. When I first moved to Portsmouth I lived at the Furze Lane Langstone campus of the University of Portsmouth and the harbour was on my door step and one of the first places I explored with my bike and camera. Throughout the years I’ve been lucky enough to explore every yard of its edge plus the sandbank and the Phoenix Breakwater with my camera, from high tide to low, but I haven’t had a chance to explore the islands.

The thing, for me, that makes Langstone Harbour extra special is that it is a wild habitat right on the doorstep of the most densely populated city in the UK. Considering the close proximity to well over two hundred thousand people, the harbour is surprisingly biodiverse and a key nesting location for birds on the south coast. More surprising is that for birds, Langstone Harbour has way, way more calling it home through the seasons than its neighbour Chichester Harbour. So…all of this wildlife shares Portsmouth with us, and us with them. Particularly at this time of year: nesting season. So for the very, very novice twitcher side of me, a boat trip out to see the birds with the RSPB was a fantastic opportunity.

We set off from the slipway at Broadmarsh Costal Park south of Havant with Wez at the boat controls and Dawn to help both myself and Tristan find out more about the wildlife and what the RSPB do in regards to the harbour and the bird populations. It was a good start with lots of Mute Swans seeing us off from the quayside and even a low flying Heron passing overhead. We travelled south, in parallel with the shore of Long Island, one of many different islands in the harbour that have (since the late 1970s) become protected bird preserves of the RSPB. We passed the southern tip of the island, which is one of the few areas where the public can land (we saw kayakers taking a break on the small shingle beach) before moving south west to Round Nap Island.

Long Island.

I’ve always been intrigued by the harbour’s islands and as they are off limits to the public this was my first chance to see them up close. Round Nap Island is quite small and at high tide seemed like a very flat and precarious home to the nesting birds and visiting birds too. On the shingle we saw Black Headed Gulls with their brown, fuzzy and big chicks who will be very soon flying themselves. Also on the island we saw quiet Cormorants taking a rest from fishing and curious Oyster Catchers exploring the shingle and waterline for food.

Round Nap Island.

Cormorants on Round Nap Island.

The RSPB routinely (at times, daily) check the nesting islands to ensure the birds aren’t effected by the many different dangers to them, their nests and their young. At low tide some of these islands are accessible by the mudflats so some islands have electric fences to protect against foxes and other predators. Another serious danger to these birds are storms and surging tides. Recently a storm washed away nests and seriously effecting the breeding of some of the harbours most important visitors.

Black Headed Gull.

From Round Nap Island we set off to the much larger South Binness Island, the most southerly of the islands in the harbour. As we travelled along the southern shore of the island we saw hundreds and hundreds of Black headed Gulls and their young plus the sharp edged Sandwich Terns, Common Terns and our first sighting of the beautiful Little Terns that visit the harbour each year. The Little Terns have struggled in recent years to raise young due to weather and tides and in 2013 this island was raised up with 500 tonnes of aggregate with the hope that their ‘scrapes’ would be better protected.

South Binness Island.

Oyster Catcher and Black Header Gulls on South Binness Island.

South Binness Island.

Black Headed Gull chicks on South Binness Island.

South Binness Island.

Sandwich Tern.

Little Terns are very special visitors to Portsmouth. Unknown to me until fairly recently, Portsmouth and Langstone Harbour is home to one of the largest colonies of these special birds, along with Blakeney Point and Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and Minsmere in Suffolk. You might find the birds in much smaller groups around the coast of the UK, including Scotland…but right here in Portsmouth is a key nesting site in the UK. Sadly these birds have difficulty in producing young as our weather has been bad in consecutive years but they will continue to try through the rest of the season. There are only 1,900 (approx.) breeding pairs in the UK so the work done locally by the RSPB to support and help these birds is vital. To put it in context, on South Binness Island alone in 2008 the island had 4,886 nesting pairs of Black Headed Gulls.

Little Tern.

Little Tern.


We travelled west past the island and out to a place I have wanted to visit for years, Oyster Island. Many years ago this small island was home to an oyster watchman’s house built in 1819. I had heard that you could still see the foundations and remains of the house (which was possibly washed away in a storm) still on this tiny island south of Farlington Marshes. As we approached you could clearly see on this tiny island the timber beams of the house plus bricks and more. Hard to believe that someone could live out here, right on the harbour.

Oyster Island.

Oyster Island.

From here we travelled to Baker’s Island with it’s northerly wild side. The RSPB obviously tries to not disturb the birds but there are occasions when it is necessary to land on one of the islands. Routinely the RSPB need to count the nests and check for any issues. Sometimes they have to fix fencing and maintain signs, etc, on this occasion Wez had to replace the electric fence battery so we grounded the boat on the beach for a few minutes. Obviously it is vital these islands are not visited by the public so this was an unexpected privilege to see this habitat up close for a minute or two.

Baker’s Island.

Oyster Catcher on Baker’s Island.

Surrounding the boat at Baker’s Island.

We set off from here and travelled east across the harbour and midway saw a large commercial vessel leave the quay at the Lafarge Tarmac site and travel towards the harbour entrance. It was a good reminder that despite being a quiet harbour there is still commercial activity on a day to day basis. There are also fishing vessels that work within the harbour too.

Commercial vessel passing Round Nap Island.


The old oyster beds on Hayling Island’s north westerly edge (next to the ‘Billy’) have a long history, from farming huger amounts of oysters for consumption in London (ending due to pollution) to them being neglected until recent years when they were restored and made a protected RSPB area. These interlinking beds are now home to many different birds and access is prevented from Hayling Island as well as from boats. From here we saw a harbour favourite the Little Egret and also a solo Great Crested Grebe before it dived under the water and disappeared. On the way back to Broadmarsh we were lucky to see about a dozen Common Terns feeding, with them circling, hovering and then diving in to the harbour waters. We also saw some Little Terns too, who only feed around one kilometre from their nesting sites.

Little Egret at Hayling Island Oyster Beds.

Diving Common Tern.

In only a matter of two hours we had an incredible trip around the harbour and were introduced to not just the birds that call Portsmouth home but also the dedicated work by the RSPB, who with a very small team have to protect the habitats and birds. If you want to keep up to date with the work done by your local RSPB team be sure to follow their blog HERE. A huge thank you to Wez and Dawn for the trip!

Interested in seeing some of these birds yourself? It is actually pretty easy from the shoreline of the city of Portsmouth. We’re working with the RSPB on a series of articles starting tomorrow and we’ll be running a competition too. More details tomorrow.

Welcome to Southsea

Ian Parmiter recently found this photo at a sign makers on one of his many travels. A Facebook debate has already begun as to it’s original whereabouts. Any ideas?

Strong Island Clothing Co.