Strong Island Co.

Art, Craft & Design

Local Talent Discovered With Southsea Resident ‘Pablo Not Picasso’

Tucapel Pablo Carvajal Woodruffe (Pablo), 31, a local Southsea resident and talented Artist has this week revealed several new pieces that he has secretly been working on. His work is beautiful and bright and he commissions pieces for individuals with a passion for his style, painting the recently wedded local couple, Alan and Katie Robertson with their son Noah.

When asked that oh so common question of why do you love to paint? Pablo responded, ‘I paint because I love the colours, Sometimes I paint with an end goal in mind like if i’m doing a portrait or capturing an image but when I paint for me, I mostly just paint to see the colours and watch how they will blend together each time. My inspiration is from the houses in chile. Particularly one house in particular but the houses there make the landscape seem like one giant painting and wether it’s from a distance or so close that I can touch the bricks, I fall in love with the colours every time.

We asked Pablo if anything in Portsmouth inspired him or helped him with new ideas? He told us ‘the sites of pompey not so much but the general creativity of the people and their commitment to show their art around the city, or the fact that we make moves to push creativity in business by promoting the artists to sell their works on the seafront for example. It makes me as an artist feel like there is potential to be able to do what I love as a job. I hope to be able to live off of my artwork, in all aspects of it, not just the paintings, I’m working on another project that I think will really interest people. With my new project, I’m finding that I am aiming for it to be deliberately done for the public rather than being so selfish about what I want and sticking to what I know, I do like to learn and this is a great way to do it.

Pablo is planning some future exhibitions and with a description of a style as one where he mainly feels for vibrancy and waits for that to come out on paper we are excited to see where his art goes next.

Portsmouth and Southsea is a tremendously creative place and the collaboration of new and upcoming artists only maintains that wondrous atmosphere that we are all proud of.

Keep your eye out for ‘Pablo not Picasso’ and get in touch with him for commissions or to find out where you can spot him and his work.

Follow Pablo on Facebook and on Etsy


Scuba Chan

Morgan Freeman

Portsmouth City Collection Part 1: Lost and Found

Collecting is something that goes way back to the early edges of the modern human psychology, a motivation to draw objects together that have a sense of meaning for the collector, that can illustrate aspects of an identity through representations of places and times past. Pretty much everyone has succumbed to the urge to collect at some stage in their life, be it stamps, stickers, shells, postcards, geology, fine art, sculpture and even aeroplane sick bags and My Little Pony. Beyond individuals, other groups create collections too, from small groups and trusts through to councils and right up to nation states. Portsmouth, like many other cities all over the UK and the World has its own collection of objects that represent its past, its culture and the people who have called it home.

The Portsmouth Collection began with the foundation of the Portsmouth museum service, established by order of the council back in 1892. The Victorians had a strong tradition of philanthropy which allowed the collection to grow from inception with people donating objects and art, the collection in essence owned by the then town (we became a city in 1927) and its people. 

The collection was homed at The Market House & Guildhall on High Street in what is now Old Portsmouth, designed by Benjamin Bramble and opened on June 28th 1838. The building was the civic centre with council chambers plus an open market and even an early police station too. The building quickly ran out of space for city officials so the new Guildhall in Guildhall Square was opened in 1879. With this move the building became the city’s museum and home to the collection.

Market House and Guildhall by Calcott, published by Charpentier
Market House and Guildhall by Calcott, published by Charpentier.

During the blitz in 1941, the city suffered with a huge loss of life and much of the city damaged and broken. On one air raid on the city the museum was bombed, with much of the city collection destroyed. Around 750 objects were saved from the destruction but it is impossible to know how much of the collection was lost as well as what these objects were specifically because all records were destroyed too. Only a handful of paintings were saved and some still show signs of burn damage. These objects that survived (to this day cataloged with ’S’ numbers to signify salvage) were the basis for a new museum service in 1945 with the end of the war.

Market House and Guildhall
Market House and Guildhall after the bombing.

From 1945 the museum service looked to acquire material relating to the history of Portsmouth and the natural history of the local area but also aimed to collect decorative art and modern British art. Under the theme of ‘The History of British Taste’ a national appeal was launched for donations to the collection from both individuals and organisations.

'Outskirts of Portsmouth Dockyard' charcoal drawing by W.H. Clarkson
‘Outskirts of Portsmouth Dockyard’ charcoal drawing by W.H. Clarkson.

The Portsmouth City Collection 70 years later is now both vast in size and scope. The collection contains archaeology, art, literary history, local history, military history and natural science with many of the objects donated or bequeathed to the city. The collection can be viewed at the city’s different museums including: Portsmouth City Museum, Charles Dickens’ Birthplace, The D-Day Museum, Southsea Castle, Cumberland House Natural History Museum & Eastney Beam Engine House. Even with all of these museums and exhibition spaces no more than approximately 15% of the City Collection is on display at any one time. 

With our next article we’ll be exploring the role of a curator for the museum service. If you want to see some of the finest items on the collection be sure to visit the A Hard Choice exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum. Many items on show in this exhibition were acquired by Rosalinda Hardiman over the last 35 years during her curatorship.

This Sunday there is a free guided tour around the exhibition by Rosalinda from 3pm to 4pm. Find out about some of the stories behind the objects on show and Rosalinda’s reasons for choosing them. Pre-booking is advised.

Throughout this year you can find out more about the Portsmouth City Collection and the many works of art and objects in contains with a Twitter account, simply follow: @PortsCityCollec

Portsmouth Harbour by Edmund T. Crawford
‘Portsmouth Harbour’ by Edmund T. Crawford.

Combat by Jack Canty
‘Combat’ by Jack Canty.

Creative Collaborations In Our City

Bringing skill and imagination to a community is really important and creating colourful, artistic environments make cities recognisable and individual.

Brothers, Mimic and Lex, both Portsmouth based have worked together on several projects as well as alone. They have numerous activity underway and specialise in cool and quirky T shirt design. They have drawn for a brand called Teezer which is soon to be launching and are responsible for the brand, Super villain.

When talking to Mimic and Lex it was clear that the guys had some big influences including Graffitti and Street Art, Skateboard graphics, David Carson, 80’s Synth Pop, Pop Art, Urban Vinyl and  50/60/and 70’s cartoons and each other.

When asked where the creativity came from Lex told us ‘Why am I creative; I guess it’s the only thing I was ever any good at. And something I have a real passion for. I get inspired by other creative people and enjoy being part of a creative community. I’m always striving to develop my own skills and push my visual experimentation further. Having a few different outlets (All Caps, Supervillain, Teezer) helps me to change up my style and techniques depending on whether I’m following a more graphic design led brief or perhaps a cartoon-based illustration… It’s great to enjoy that kind of variety in my work.’

When asking Mimic he told us ‘I design because it’s what I know, it’s what I grew up doing, from doodling aliens and monsters as a kid to studying art and design at college. My influences are mainly pop culture based. Music is a big part of my life but I also find connections in movies, comics and graffiti. I use a lot of horror and sci-fi imagery in my work too. My main focus in my Mimic work is illustrative but I’m educated and trained as a graphic designer.’

The guys recently painted a beautiful wall for Portsmouth’s booming Design agency, 3Degrees, which was started by Chris Godby and Nathan Hornby back in 2011. A thriving company that combines web and design, to meet individual client needs and requirements in various ways. The guys at 3Degrees were looking for a local artist to paint a blank wall in their office in Old Portsmouth and via word of mouth came across Mimic and Lex. The goal was to create a piece that felt local and had a Portsmouth, nautical theme and the boys pulled it off superbly. They worked on a design that was tailor made for this company and left business owners Chris and Nathan smiling.

Portsmouth is renound for its awesome artistic collaborations and with big names coming out of our city all the time it is great to be able to walk around and spy some of our favourite personalities on walls and in spaces in and around the city.

Mimic and Lex have been involved in events at Southsea Skatepark and other local community based areas and their work is easily recognisable. We cant wait to check out what they do next!

Follow Lex and Mimic on Facebook or on Twitter @supervillainhq and check out their website, Also look up the guys at 3Degrees

Lex and Mimic


Lex and Mimic

Artist Talk with Jules George at the National Museum of the Royal Navy

The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth would like to invite everyone to a free talk by the artist Jules George from 6-7pm on Thursday 26th February. This is a rare opportunity to hear the artist talk about his latest series of artworks and the inspiration behind them. Jules George‘s exhibition, which is supported with funding from the Arts Council, continues at the Museum until 8th March 2015.

Artist Talk with Jules George at the National Museum of the Royal Navy

Short Story Competition – Call For 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 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 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


Here and There Exhibition at aspex Gallery and aspex Guildhall

Tomorrow sees the celebration event of Here and There Exhibition at aspex Gallery & aspex Guildhall, the basement gallery in Portsmouth Guildhall run with aspex Gallery. This two site show is the inaugural exhibition of works by members of aspex artists associates including Amyrose Dempsey, Amanda Bates, Jan Johnston, Deborah Richards, James McLellan (work above), Jacqueline Rolls, Naty Lopez & Oana Damir.

‘Here’ is aspex, featuring paintings, photographs, videos and sculpture by eight artists. ‘There’ is offsite at aspex Guildhall and will feature the work of a further eight artists. ‘There’ show opened previously on the 28th January.

Here and There runs from Wednesday 18th February to Saturday 14th March 2015. Tomorrow (Wednesday 18th February) is the celebration event for the exhibition:

5.30pm: Starts at aspex
6.30pm – 6.45pm: Leave aspex for Guildhall
7.00pm – 8.30pm: Event at Guildhall

The exhibition is free on both sites. Find out more about the exhibition HERE.

Here and There Exhibition at aspex Gallery and aspex Guildhalll

A Hard Choice Exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum Opens Tomorrow

Tomorrow sees the opening of A Hard Choice exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum, this year’s main exhibition for the city’s museum service. The exhibition has been personally curated by Rosalinda Hardiman, the inspirational museum collections manager, and draws on her many years of expertise as a curator and her detailed knowledge of the Portsmouth City Collection.

The exhibition features around 120 favourite objects from all the different aspects of the city collection and range from an 800-year-old cosmetic jar to a Second World War bomb found in Guildhall Walk. Other items are a mirror believed to have been owned by royal mistress Lily Langtry, seaside postcards, and a Turner painting of Portsmouth Harbour. Other treasures include visiting cards used by Mr and Mrs Charles Dickens, and works by Stanley Spencer, Walter Sickert and Jacob Epstein.

The 250kg bomb, from 1941, was discovered in Guildhall Walk in 1984. Rosalinda, hoping to retrieve tiles from a building site, clambered over it without knowing it was there. It was later safely detonated.

Items from Rosalinda’s fascinating life will also be on display – including medals and mementoes from her days as a top international swimmer. She competed in the Atlanta and Sydney Paralympic Games, took five world records and swam the Channel.

Rosalinda, who has been with Portsmouth City Council’s museums service for 35 years, said: “If you count every insect in our natural history cabinets and all the prehistoric pieces of flint in the archaeology collection, then we have half a million objects. It’s a mammoth task looking after all those items – and yes, we have parts of mammoths too. I’m so enthusiastic about our collections and wanted to share my sheer joy in being able to work with such inspiring things. As well as the ‘official’ information about the objects I wanted to reveal some of the personal stories attached to them.”

The exhibition opens tomorrow from 10am and will run through to September, with many different activities, events, talks and more happening over the coming weeks and months.

A Hard Choice

Rosalinda Hardiman
Photo from a photo shoot Strong Island had with Rosalinda in her incredible office at Portsmouth City Museum.

Duchess of Cambridge to Visit the Ben Ainslie Racing Mural Tomorrow

Last year we worked with Ben Ainslie Racing on a community arts project to create a mural on their Portsmouth Harbour facing wall of the site of the new BAR headquarters. The project involved 6 schools from Ryde, Portsmouth & Leigh Park with over 80 pupils taking part painting ships, yachts and more on a sea mural over 100 feet wide. As well as the help of three local street artists the young people also had sailors from the BAR crew, trustees of the 1851 Trust plus the Minister of Portsmouth help out.

The event was to celebrate the launch of the 1851 Trust and tomorrow, as part of a longer visit to Portsmouth, the Duchess of Cambridge as head of the trust will visit the mural, meet many of the young artists and staff involved and may also add to the mural with Sir Ben Ainslie.

We’ll be there from 11am tomorrow, fingers crossed for painting weather…

Below are some photos from the past event plus a video made by BAR too.

Ben Ainslie Racing and Strong Island Schools Art Project (1)

Ben Ainslie Racing and Strong Island Schools Art Project (3)

Ben Ainslie Racing and Strong Island Schools Art Project (11)

Ben Ainslie Racing and Strong Island Schools Art Project (6)

Ben Ainslie Racing and Strong Island Schools Art Project (9)

Photos From ‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space

I popped by the ‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space at the new Eldon wing the other day. The exhibition is in the smaller exhibition area with work from lots of different types of practices taking up the walls and plinths in place. The lion’s share of the work is illustration but there are some great pieces of 3D (such as the birds of Los Dave) plus an animation playing on a screen too. Below are a few favourites within the exhibition, be sure to drop by before the exhibition closes, it is free to view and well worth your time.

‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space (1)

‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space (2)
Stag, taken from sketchbook of Paige Jones.

‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space (3)
Birds by Los Dave.

‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space (4)
Deer Miss by Paige Jones.

‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space (5)
Running Hare by Libbie Carr.

‘Illustrated Menagerie’ Exhibition at Space (6)
Pigeons of Portsmouth by Dale Silvester.

Old Masters Levis by Garry Davis

Along with many other people on the planet, Garry Davis had a collection of worn-out and almost unwearable Levis cluttering up the house that he didn’t want to throw out. This got Garry wondering what great artists of the past would have done with theirs (as Garry himself points out, some of them DID wear them).

Using the Levis as canvas, Garry created a series of paintings to breathe new life in to the iconic denim as you can see from the photos below. The pieces are created using acrylics and plaka paint, then tacked/mounted to 4 foot x 3 foot matt black plywood and finished with a light spray varnish.

You can see more of Garry’s work on his Facebook page HERE.

Next »


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?

The Abrooks

The infamous 1980s Southsea locals Mark & Barry Abrook, doubles on the halfpipe at the skatepark from 1990.


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.



Rolling right Inuit part II

Following on from the previous post about the Igloo seen on Southsea Common, Khalid Saleh was kind enough to get in contact with some more information and some photos. It took Khalid and 6 of his friends 5 and a half hours to build the Igloo using what looks like icecream tubs and glow sticks were donated by passers by from the Navy.

It’s still standing today and Meridian will be doing a short interview with them. Not sure when that will air, but hopefully I’ll catch it.







Hidden Treasures

Steve Bomford gave us the heads up on this wonderful short film made up of old film footage, from the 50s to the 70s, filmed around Portsmouth and Southsea. If you like looking at some vintage Portsmouth and Southsea you will love this (really interesting to see the Guildhall before it was pedestrianised and the buildings were demolished for the council offices).

Strong Island Clothing Co.