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Architecture & The City

Pier Today, Gone Tomorrow? Sign the Petition to Order Repairs to South Parade Pier

“Time and tide wait for no man” is a 13th century proverb that goes back even further in ancient English and the sentiment remains the same almost 1000 year later in the case of Portsmouth & Southsea’s South Parade Pier: the laws of the land say it can’t be demolished but these laws mean nothing to the rain, the wind and the sea. After years of seemingly wilful neglect by the current owners, a mixture of handwashing and legal nonchalance by Portsmouth City Council, elusive, hokey-cokey ‘new’ owners and a winter of the worst storms in memory the treasured landmark at one of Portsmouth & Southsea seaside’s busiest points may well not be structurally able to survive another bad winter.

South Parade Trust have created a petition calling on Portsmouth City Council to act and force the owners of South Parade Pier to “…carry out urgent, end-to-end repairs to prevent further ongoing structural collapse, using Section 48 of The Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, as recommended by English Heritage”. You can re-open a toilet and fill a pothole but once the pier is gone…it is gone forever. If the small Suffolk seaside town of Southwold can have a vibrant pier, so can we. If Hastings can restore a pier to its previous splendour (from burnt out ruins), then so can we. If Penarth can have a community pier with resources and facilities for locals and tourists, then so can we. No more excuses, time to act.

The petition has only been online a matter of days and already has almost 3000 signatures at the time of writing, there is absolutely no reason why it cannot get to 10,000 or even 100,000 seeing the number of people who live, work & visit the city of Portsmouth and Southsea. It takes 10 seconds to sign and another 10 seconds to share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

38degrees.org.uk/petitions/order-repair-of-south-parade-pier

Forgetting the heritage, forgetting a restored pier being a community asset, forgetting the pier being a tourist attraction…culturally & artistically the pier is one of the most photographed locations in the city. Photos taken on mobile phones all the way to remote drones, photos taken at all times of the day and year from land and sea…all of these photos shared online to what must be millions of people. Imagine that lost to a storm surge and shoulder shrugging owners and PCC…

Below are just three photos I’ve taken of the pier of literally hundreds in the last few years, I imagine just locally there must be thousands and thousands of photos by local people, even more by visitors to the city. People are inspired to take photographs by special places and locations, lets try and keep one of ours and to bring it back to life.

South Parade Pier (1)

South Parade Pier (2)

South Parade Pier (3)

Last Chance to Sign Up for Tricorn Study Day on 21st June

Portsmouth City Museum are holding a Tricorn study day on the 21st June that includes many different talks about the structure & its design (including one by the architect Owen Luder) plus talks on the possible use of the space left behind from the demolition of the building in 2004. The line up for the day is as follows:

09:50 – Introductions
10:00 – Celia Clark: Brutalism as a style – the fate of Brutalist buildings around the world
10:55 – Coffee break
11:10 – Roger Tyrrell & Nicola Crowson, University of Portsmouth: ‘The Iconic’ – a comparative analysis of the Tricorn and the Sydney Opera House
12.05 – Owen Luder: The Tricorn – the architect’s perspective
13:00 – Lunch in the Activities Room (ground floor, east end)
13:45 – Ron Tate: The Tricorn – a planner’s perspective
14:40 – Univ. of Portsmouth architecture students: Reusing the Tricorn footprint I
15:25 – Tea break
15:40 – Univ. of Portsmouth architecture students: Reusing the Tricorn footprint II
16:25 – End

A place at the study day, which includes a buffet lunch, tea and coffee, costs only £20 with Portsmouth Leisure Card Holders & students at only £12. To book a place phone 023 9283 4737 and pay by credit or debit card.

Tricorn by Jon King
Photo by Jon King

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters

Currently one of the most contentious planning proposals in the city is the proposed new home for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup headquarters, located on The Camber in Old Portsmouth. The story has been developing quickly over recent weeks and we have heard people’s opinions on both sides through messages on our Facebook and with emails. I think there is no doubt that having the city home to one of the best sailing teams in the World would be a huge boost to the city on many levels, be that employment, new skills and prestige. Personally I think the plans for the building are striking too, a new landmark for Portsmouth and also a symbol of the city’s development for every single passenger of every continental and IOW ferry that leaves and arrives in the harbour.

Concerning the design, which will fill much of the current Camber carpark, it is safe to say that this modern structure wrapped in curved ‘sails’ caught in a strong wind will cause controversy due to the close proximity of the historic Point and the streets of the Old Portsmouth district. Personally, I think architecture in these situations can work in two ways, either feel in keeping with the existing period design or be the opposite, a meeting of diametrically opposed styles that work together, combining the heritage of the city with dynamic contemporary architectural design. This has worked in numerous significant developments in recent years (even intimately such as the Great Court at the British Museum)…in a way this bringing together of the two styles can be representative of a city wishing to celebrate its heritage yet strike new ground with a view to the future too. Despite there still being questions regarding issues such as public access to the very popular Bridge Tavern (maybe the idea of the return of the bridge over the water isn’t a joke after all?) and the problem of parking in an area designed long before the car, the change of use from an area once piled high with power station coal could help power the city in new ways.

It seems like opinion is once again polarised from this development, in recent days councillors of all political persuasions have come out in support of the proposal plus a planning committee has also shown support yet many local residents are raising concern about possible problems with the proposal. Strangely pre-development work has already broken ground on the site too with businesses moving location to make way for the new building. A little worrying considering no formal approval has been given, but if the local businesses are happy about the changes, maybe that is a move in the right direction if a little presumptive. For me…it was important to see what opinion the Portsmouth Society might have on the issue and last week saw them also show support too. With that support in place and with Ben Ainslie’s apparent desire to choose Portsmouth over two sites in Southampton it looks very positive.

There is a consultation meeting this evening at 7.30pm at Cathedral House (next to Portsmouth Cathedral), after the first was postponed due to too many people arriving for the space available. At the meeting Sir Ben Ainslie will be making a presentation of the proposal in person and people are encouraged to attend to both raise any concerns but also to show local support for the plans. The final planning consent decision is very quickly approaching and the building is planned to start very soon so we could be seeing the very best racing yachts in Portsmouth Harbour and out on The Solent in the very near future.

One real concern regarding this development is if it will have any detrimental impact on the ARTches project, I would really hope that this local area is able to take both developments on and the council will ensure that this doesn’t become a situation where they only offer one out of the two large scale changes to the Old Portsmouth area to appease residents.

There is a petition showing support for the proposal, you can find out about it HERE.

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters (3)

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters (2)

Proposal for Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup Headquarters (1)

Explore The Tricorn with Architectural Flythroughs by Sam Brooks

If you have visited the Portsmouth City Museum’s Tricorn exhibition (and if you haven’t you should do quick as it ends at the end of this month) you would have seen an incredible virtual flythrough of the building, revealing its different areas, shops and more…giving a new whole new perspective of the structure’s design. The virtual flythrough by Sam Brooks (who also is part of the Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series) is a detailed tour and based on the original architectural drawings by Owen Luder Architects.

Sam has produced a large series of Tricorn flythroughs with the one below capturing the whole structure but if you visit the Leftfield Motive YouTube channel you’ll find detailed flythroughs focusing on particular areas like the department store, the residential flats and views of each of the individual levels. I highly recommend you take a few minutes and re-discover this Portsmouth architectural icon in a fascinating new way.

Explore The Tricorn with Architectural Flythroughs by Sam Brooks (1)

Explore The Tricorn with Architectural Flythroughs by Sam Brooks (2)

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series

Earlier this year as part of our contributions to the Portsmouth City Museum’s fantastic Tricorn exhibition we curated and commissioned a limited edition of artist prints to be displayed in the exhibition and exclusively sold in the museum gift shop. The artist series included a wide range of work (some of it specially designed for the series), from photography through to graphic design and illustration from nine different local creatives. Each print shows a different side of the Tricorn yet all clearly identify the building as a powerful creative inspiration for the city through its history.

The prints have been selling really well with a few of the designs now almost out of print. The prints are available direct from the museum until the end of the exhibition and are professionally printed & come on exceptionally high quality, specially selected paper in both A4 and A3, priced at £15 and £30 respectively. Every purchase helps support both the museum and the local creatives directly.

The Tricorn exhibition runs until the end of June, if you haven’t visited yet, it is well worth a visit and is free entry, as are all of the other great exhibitions at the museum. Have a look at our review of the exhibition HERE.

The artist series is shown below, let us know which is your favourite and if you have already bought one or more!

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Craig Eves
Craig Eves

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Jon King
Jon King

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Superrb
Superrb

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Eloïse Parrack
Eloïse Parrack

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Sam Brooks
Sam Brooks

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - AllCaps
AllCaps

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Stu Linfield
Stu Linfield

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Russell Squires
Russell Squires

The Strong Island Tricorn Artist Series - Tristan Savage
Tristan Savage

Time And Tide – An Update On The Pier.

At the time of my last post on the subject, the pier was due to be rescued by a mystery consortium who’s ambitions were to restore the iconic landmark to its former glory. So where are we now? As time keeps marching on, the pier continues to slowly crumble into the sea and the potential new owners continue to shroud their identity in secrecy without any real sign of the purchase going ahead. During this time, the council have resumed their legal action against current owners Fred Nash and Dawn Randall, by ordering the construction of a protective perimeter wall rather than opting for the repairs it badly needs. So where does this leave us? We have two penniless owners who want to wash their hands of the structure, a shadowy group who quite clearly have nothing in their coffers, an eyesore of a wall that will cost money to put up and subsequently tear down, and a local council who seem happy enough to sit down and watch this farcical situation go from bad to worse.

We should remind ourselves that Portsmouth is not the only coastal city who have battled to save their pier. Let us take Hastings as an example. Hastings Council rightly issued a compulsory purchase order and placed their pier firmly in the hands of the Hastings Pier Trust (the model for South Parade Trust). Whilst the financial risk are taken on by the trust, it leaves them free to apply for grants. Hastings Pier Trust received £11.4m from this process alone thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Take a second and drink that figure in. This type of back-to-back handover would not only best serve the people of Portsmouth, it will also save the pier from certain ruin and clear any of the water that has been muddied by the consortium. Should Portsmouth City Council choose not to go down this simple route, it will be tantamount to neglect.

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Investment In Portsmouth

Over the past week we have heard announcements in the local press that Bouygues Development are looking to seek permission to demolish the eyesore that is Brunel House, and replace it with an impressive tower which has been nicknamed ‘Our Shard’. In addition there have also been reports about the investment which will be going into South Parade Pier by the new owners, and the residential development of the old Portland Hotel building on Kent Road. With all this exciting development I am half expecting to hear that someone will finally turn the the Northern Quarter of Commercial Road into the New Westfields.

Putting all cynicism to one side however, these projects would be fantastic for the city. The regeneration of The Hard and Portsea area over the past few years has been a real success, and this would continue this time of regeneration for our city. In my opinion the building looks brilliant and would enhance the already impressive Portsmouth skyline.

Bouygues Development’s plans consist of a forty storey tower which will include student accommodation, 329 residential properties and one floor of retail space. The development would see the demolition of Brunel House, Victory Public House, ‘City Wide Taxi’s’ building and former Ambulance Station.

To find out more you can view the planning application yourself HERE.

Brunel House Our Shard

We have all been waiting and hoping for some positive news about our beloved South Parade Pier. The consortium who have just taken over ownership of the pier, South Parade Pier Limited have announced their plan to develop the pier. The plans include a music venue, bars and restaurants however still maintaining traditional seaside pier attractions like the arcades and food kiosks.

A nice touch that excited me was the plan for a ferry service could also be set up to go between Gunwharf Quays.

With all of this in mind, I feel it is key to point out that we at Strong Island echo the thoughts of The South Parade Trust, who are a community organisation who were also looking to purchase the pier, they urge caution and want to see evidence of the investment required. If reports are to be believed the costs to restore the pier could reach between £3-5 million.

It’s still very early days and the owners will have to allow the full extent of the damage to be assessed before anyone can hope to see repairs begin. It may take a few years but let’s hope the future for one of Portsmouth’s oldest and most loved attractions is in good hands.

Catherine Taylor
Photo by Catherine Taylor

Todays Portsmouth News has featured the new development for the land opposite the pier. Take a look and you can make up your own opinions.

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum

Tricorn: Controversy in Concrete is a brand new exhibition commemorating 10 years since the demolition of this distinct and controversial building that between 1966 and 2004 was a fundamental part of the Portsmouth skyline. The exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum goes far beyond documenting the building from an architectural perspective, although for the first time many, many original drawings, plans and photographs are on display from the building’s architects, much of it for the first time ever. Where this exhibition explores beyond the groundbreaking and (for many) iconic Brutalist architectural design is documenting how it was experienced and used by the people of Portsmouth. The exhibition opened on the 15th and formally had its opening celebration to a capacity crowd on Saturday 22nd.

The exhibition on the ground floor of the museum is loosely arranged in to two areas, with the first section detailing the origins of the building from concept to design and build. As you enter this space the striking architectural plans on the wall are what first catch the eye. The lines and form of the concrete structure can almost take you back in time to the exciting and economically optimistic early 1960s, with the original and then cutting edge design still feeling strangely fresh even now. This is reinforced with the many original pamphlets, magazines and books that show the enthusiasm the project launched with. This part of the exhibition also establishes where the Tricorn sat within the Brutalist movement and also with some other buildings in the city such as Portsdown Park and Portsmouth Central Library, both of which are in the exhibition in the form of architect sketches and models.

The second section focuses on how the people of Portsmouth experienced the structure over the years it stood in the city centre. Part of this section is an incredible collection of posters and artwork from the nightclub but there is also related music, photos and even period clothing giving a sense of how the building was, for a time, a hub for the community. This section also looks at how the building was a creative inspiration for many, including artwork, skateboard decks and in particular, photography. It is in this section the Strong Island community photo panel is located, with over 100 photos capturing the structure in artistic angles and light. This area is also home to some striking work by Jon King and James Earle, both of who explored the building with their cameras throughout it’s demolition. Both areas also contain oral history, with interviews, opinions and memories on the Tricorn from both architect and members of the public. Also in both areas of the exhibition are feedback walls, which welcome comments from people visiting the exhibition. Despite the exhibition only being open for a week these are already full with amazing contributions.

On Saturday 22nd the exhibition was formally opened including attendance by VIPs such as Owen Luder, one of the original architects, plus many people associated with the Tricorn from right back to it’s design and construction through to its final demolition. The event included speeches by Owen Luder, Celia Clark and Councillor Lee Hunt, possibly the most interesting was the story of the Tricorn told by Owen Luder himself. It was fascinating to see how for him the aspirations for the building were in many ways dashed due to an economic turndown happening with an extended delay in securing contracts with key business tenants. Of particular note were his thoughts on how the space itself has been used “54 years on it is back to how it was when I first saw it in 1960, a carpark”.

The exhibition runs through to the 29th June.

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (1)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (2)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (3)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (4)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (5)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (6)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (7)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (8)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (9)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (11)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (12)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (13)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (14)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (15)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (16)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (17)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (18)

Tricorn Controversy in Concrete Exhibition at the Portsmouth City Museum (19)

Tricorn Exhibition Opens at Portsmouth City Museum

Love it or hate it, one thing is undeniable, The Tricorn was a distinctive building and helped shape for many years the skyline of Portsmouth. Another undeniable fact is that everyone had an opinion on the structure, from its design through to its use and this exhibition, entitled Tricorn: Controversy in Concrete at Portsmouth City Museum, is sure to remind people that even after 10 years since it’s demolition the Tricorn can still instil passion in the people of Portsmouth and further afield.

The exhibition itself explores the architectural roots of both the Tricorn in the Brutalist movement, its construction in 1966 & all the way through to the Tricorn’s demise in 2004. The exhibition also explores how the Tricorn formed a part of the community, with it home to businesses, a place to work, explore and play through the years. For the first time all of these aspects of this distinctly Portsmouth building will be on display.

As part of the exhibition will be a display of over 100 photos submitted to Strong Island by over 30 photographers that will form the community photography panel. The photographs show the Tricorn in many different ways, with it forming not just a backdrop but a clear, creative inspiration to many students and people of Portsmouth. We’re really excited to share the work and the display.

We are also working with a group of artists and photographers on a series of prints that will be on sale at the Portsmouth City Museum during the exhibition and on display within the exhibition. We’ll have more details on these and some other Tricorn related events and activities soon!

The exhibition opens on the 15th March and runs through to the 29th June.

Below is the official flyer plus a very small selection of images submitted to us to form the community photography panel.

Tricorn Exhibition Poster

Tricorn by Nick Moore

Tricorn by Dave Sanderson

Tricorn by Jon King

Tricorn by Allister Lewis

Tricorn by Paul Duffy

Deadline for Tricorn Photos is Friday 7th

As we mentioned recently (you can find out the full details HERE) we have been collecting submissions of people’s photos of Portsmouth’s iconic Tricorn for the upcoming Tricorn exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum. The submitted photos will form a community panel within the exhibition itself, helping to show the creative inspiration to local people the structure became. We have been overwhelmed with the response so far, receiving over 300 photos and some of them are quite simply stunning. Many people who have submitted photos took them whilst studying art and photography and the quality of the images is incredible.

The deadline for all submissions is now next Friday, the 7th February. If you could please dig out your negatives, dive through your old prints and look in old hard-drives for your photos and send them over that would be great. To find out how to submit give me a shout on paul@strong-island.co.uk.

We’re also hoping to organise a few more Tricorn related events and activities throughout 2014, the 10th anniversary of it being demolished.

Tricorn by Russell Squires
Photo by Russell Squires

Features

Photos from Head Jam 2014

For the second year running Head Mens Hairdressing, Strong Island and My Dog Sighs (this year with Lex Luthor) put on the Head Jam street art event on Albert Road in Southsea. The yard out the back of Head and the Strong Island HQ had last year’s artwork covered during last week and Saturday saw local artists My Dog Sighs, Los Dave, M-One, Lex Luthor, Mimic, Stu Linfield, I am Posy, freakSTATIC, Midge and Samo get involved with new artwork on all of the walls plus the new sculpture too. Extra artwork is also being added today by My Name is Leila. A huge thank you to all the artists and to everyone who popped by throughout the day.

Check some of the photos from the day below, you can see a load more on our Flickr (which is a growing archive of our photography over the last 6 years) or on our Facebook page and if you want to pop in and have a look visit Head at 53 Albert Road.


































Southsea Comedy Festival Competition | Win Two Tickets

The first ever Southsea Comedy Festival opens with Eddie Izzard performing his most recent show ‘Force Majeure’ on 31st July and 1st August. We have a pair of tickets to give away for the Thursday 31st July performance. All you have to do to win this prize is email stuart@strong-island.co.uk with your answer to the following three questions.

1) What is the name of the character voiced by Eddie in Cars 2?
2) In which American city did Eddie begin his 2014 tour Force Majeure?
3) For which charity did Eddie run an incredible 43 marathons in 51 days?!

The deadline for entries will be midnight Monday 21st July with the winner being announced Tuesday 22nd in the evening.

If you don’t want to risk missing out then Southsea Comedy Festival tickets are available by calling 0844 847 2362 and online at www.southseacomedyfestival.co.uk. You can follow the Southsea Comedy Festival on Twitter @SouthseaComedy.

Eddie Izzard Southsea Comedy Festival Logo

Southseacomedyfestival

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection

We’ve been exceptionally busy over at Strong Island HQ for the best part of 2014 so far and the latest Strong Island Clothing Co range has been in development for some time. We are now proud to announce the launch of our latest line of tee and crew designs for the Summer. This is the biggest run we have done to date and we wanted to ensure it was a really strong range so didn’t want to rush it.

We have a wide range of new colours and designs including our first 2 colour print on the popular Refuse to Sink and a return to our second tee style back in 2010 with a backprint (this time in navy) in the classic Strong Island logo. We also have a seriously strong collaboration with University of Portsmouth graduate and award winning letterform designer Andy Lethbridge AKA Hand Type. These are something truly special and we’re really stoked how they came out, the detail in the print really reflects the brush strokes of Andy’s work. We will have more on Hand Type and the development of these designs on Strong Island soon in a full interview. We also have pocket tees with the new Down the Hatch design which form part of something we are keeping under our hats for bit…some old favourites have been revisited too with new colourways and 2 new graphic tees as well. Our latest crew retains the same quality as before featuring ribbed side panels, a back neck loop, deep cuffs, a double v-insert on the neckline and raglan sleeves but with new striped cuffs. With a more contemporary and slimmer fit than most sweatshirts it’s certainly a more premium line. As always all our tees and crews are hand screenprinted in East London by the mighty Lovenskate, including the anchor signoff on the back and detail on the inside neck.

We have a few more mini launches coming up over the next few weeks including more tees, something for the cyclists out there, some very special hand produced items from Poland using original 1940′s techniques and also something to lounge on in summer and keep you warm in the winter. Not to mention another very special artist collaboration too.

All of the tees and crews from the main, initial drop will be available this weekend during Head Jam at Head Hairdressing, 53 Albert Road, Southsea (weather permitting). They will then go online in Shop Ahoy next week.

For now please enjoy our latest Lookbook shot by Strong Island Media over at Dell Quay, Chichester. The perfect day to go for a wander around the marina, fields and woodlands with a few cheeky beers at the Crown & Anchor.

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (1)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (2)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (3)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (4)

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Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (7)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (8)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (9)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (10)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (11)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (12)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (13)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (14)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (15)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (16)

Strong Island, Lex Luthor & My Dog Sighs present Head Jam 2014 – Saturday 19th July

Last years Head Jam was such a resounding success with some of the nations best street artists that we eagerly began talking about the following year before the paint had even dried. We discussed how we could run the event again and where to do it, but the answer was simple and literally looking right at us. We hold it in the same place again. Make the courtyard at Head Hairdressing the centre of an annual event where the outcome is available to view for the year, then return, white wash the previous artwork away, and do it all again. After all, street art is an ever changing and developing media in it’s own right and in it’s usual environment where it gets ripped down, tagged, covered in fly posters, lost to demolition and built on, the artists have no fear of their art being lost. It’s part of the job so to speak…

Rick from Head Hairdressing at 53 Albert Road (just along from the Wine Vaults and next to Southsea Gallery) conceived the idea of having the courtyard to the rear of the local barbers transformed in to a permanent giant art piece. From precision multilayered stencils, through bubble gum cutsie to surreal illustrative mayhem, Lex Luthor and My Dog Sighs have hand picked some of their favourite artists to produce the ultimate street art dreamscape courtyard…again!

Head Jam will run all day so feel free to pop along, take a look, have a chat, hang out, meet the artists and enjoy the atmosphere. There will be music on all day, a BBQ turning over in the background if you want to stick a burger on (not supplied), and please feel free to bring along a beer too. Everyone is welcome, so bring the kids so they can see some of the finest street artists working together in this unique environment.

Attending artists include: MyDogSighs, Lex Luthor, Mimic, Fark, Nova, M-one Art, Los Dave, Stu Linfield, Morf, Freakstatic and Ooberla. Wow, this is going to be amazing! If you pop along please be sure to tag the event on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #HeadJam and we will put up a series of your photos from the day.

Strong Island Clothing Co will also be launching their latest range of tees and crews before they go online the following week. So if you want to get in there for an exclusive purchase before anyone else head on down and check it all out. Everything will be out to view, and there is a sneak peak at the end of this post (the full look book will go up this week). Also all of our PFC tees and crews are on offer, bargain. We look forward to seeing you all.

Old paint on a wall

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (1)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (2)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (3)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (4)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (5)

Head Jam, photo by Paul Gonella

Photos: Matt Maber

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Strong Island Blissfields 2014 Review By Sophie Perryer and Grace Aquilina – Day Three

Despite the effects of the night before, those who have arisen from their partially soggy tents and dared to walk through alcohol and rain sodden hay look forward to listen to live music at The Wild Stage and in The Hustle Den at midday. In keeping with the wildlife theme the crowd was littered with all sorts of animal themed costumes, and what I can only expect was a stag party of monkey’s.

Burning Beaches took to the stage at 12:00pm in The Hustle Den, where sleepy eyes were literally opened in awe of the band’s soft rock sound. Heavy bass woke even the most sluggish and grungy vocals perfectly complimented a latte. The vocals echoed around the tent, emphasising the roughness and fervency.

Blissfields is without a doubt well-deserved of it’s reputation for finding and nurturing local artists and upcoming talent, and this year was no exception; Saturday brought with it the chance for discovering yet more new artists, one of which being Australian singer-songwriter Ry X. His hazy almost whispered vocals drew comparisons to The xx and Blissfields favourites London Grammar, and Ry X transfixed the audience throughout his set with his soft tenor tones. His track ‘Berlin’ is well worth a listen.

Later on in the afternoon, Floella Grace wowed her audience in The Larch to complete silence and a dream-like-state. Her dreamy, sobering vocals accompanied by fellow string player Gareth and two silvery-voiced backing singers made for an awesome and enlightening performance. The ukulele was played sweetly and harmoniously with the slightly more robust guitar; the entire performance being one of sincerity courtesy of her unvarnished, honest lyrics.

After Floella Grace’s soothing and lulling performance, the audience was re-awakened with the The Boy I Used To Be’s garage pop sound. With breathy, low vocals and slightly metallic guitar riffs, the band’s ‘sun-drenched’ sound ironically complimented the gloomy Great British Weather.

A personal highlight of Saturday was the chance to catch Laurel in the Hustle Den; she has truly developed her own distinctive style, although it is easy to see why over the last year she has been compared to Lana Del Ray, Lorde, and Laura Marling. On stage, she mesmerises the crowd with her sultry and coquettish presence, and switches effortlessly between softer and louder tracks, such as the lead song from her Blue Blood EP, which showcases the depth and richness of her voice.

By now sky was taken over with cloud but with temperatures still high anticipation grew for the headliner, 2ManyDJs, the semi-incognito side project of prolific 90s DJs Soulwax. The Dewaele brothers’ experience was evident throughout their set, with their ability to bring the crowd effortlessly through highs and lows, and build the sweat and alcohol fuelled festival-goers into a frenzy. However, while there were certainly some sore heads as Sunday morning dawned, there were plenty of wide grins too.

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Daniel O'Neill Blissfields 2014
Cosmo Sheldrake @ The Hustle Den
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Beans On Toast Presents… At The Larch Stage
BS5
Chlöe Howl @ The Wild Stage
Daniel O'Neill Blissfields 2014
Laurel @ The Hustle Den
Daniel O'Neill Blissfields 2014 Laurel
Laurel @ The Hustle Den

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth – Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’

We continue with our co-published history articles with aspex Gallery, researched by Laura McLean-Ferris who has recently been crawling through the Aspex Gallery archives and has produced a series of articles for aspex about their 33 year history. We’re very happy to partner up and cross post their aspex history blog posts here on Strong Island, you can see the original aspex blog post HERE. This fourth article in the series today looks at how aspex worked with Cornelia Parker in the late 1980s, and how Art Space Portsmouth & aspex became separate organisations.

Now in the Tate collection, Cornelia Parker’s Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-89) is an installation of over 1000 pieces of silverware that the artist had flattened by a steamroller. Each is suspended from the ceiling using copper wire, hanging a few inches above the gallery floor in clustered puddles, forming a kind of grid. The work transforms domestic items, such as cigarette cases, trophies, and tableware, into pure elemental material, and yet each flat silver disc contains within it the ghost of a former life. Silver is commemorative – and many of the items are suggestive of occasions such as birth, retirement, engagement, triumph or memorial. The work displays Parker’s interest, around this time, in acts of material violence that expand the viewer’s engagement with the objects and materials around them.

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth - Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’ (1)

Les Buckingham, then director of aspex, recalls seeing 30 Pieces of Silver at Ikon Gallery and being particularly taken with it, and so approaching Parker to invite her to show the work at aspex. ‘I knew the director of Ikon, Antonia Payne’, Buckingham remembers, ‘and she agreed that I could approach Cornelia about a second showing. The piece was installed at Ikon in the basement and was smaller than intended. When I talked to Cornelia she jumped at the chance to show it in a large and high space. The installation was the most complex of my career, filling the entire gallery, (1600 sq feet), and involving three weeks work and miles of fuse wire. Six to ten people worked on the project with the artist and the results were spectacular.’ Amusingly, there’s a note in the aspex archives which details that the height for suspension was ‘One toilet roll plus a piece of hardboard’.

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth - Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’ (2)

In contrast to the way the work is now shown, visitors were able to walk between the pools of sculptures. Following a visit to aspex by the Arts Council the work was selected for the British Art Show. The artist discussed the time-lag that it took for the work to make an impact in a recent interview with The Guardian. ‘I made Thirty Pieces of Silver for the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and it didn’t get a single review’, she says. ‘It wasn’t until it was shown at the British Art Show at the Hayward a year later that people noticed.’ The work was purchased for the Tate Collection in 1998.

aspex was also going through changes during this period. Following several years of working as an artist-run space, the threat of climbing rents compelled the organisation to transform to its status to a charity, which meant transforming the structure of aspex. In an effort to protect the gallery and studio artists from high rents, the decision was made to seek charitable status and Aspex Visual Arts Trust was formed. Buckingham remembers this as a complicated period of transformation for the organisation, which essentially split the studios from the gallery, but it was one that was necessary to secure aspex, as a resource that would continue to exist after its founders were no longer involved. Though the two are now separate entities, the Trust continues to work together with the artist founders at Art Space Portsmouth.

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth - Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’ (3)

All images courtesy of the Aspex Visual Arts Trust Ltd. and the artist.