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Community

Free Community Funding Workshops by Fratton Big Local

Fratton Big Local are putting on free drop-in workshops at Fratton Community Centre on Thursday 3rd July to help local groups apply for up to £10,000 of Awards for All funding. The one hour workshops will start at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 6.30pm and will cover the small grants programme of the National Lottery:

“We want to fund projects which address the issues, needs and aspirations of local communities and people. We will fund a wide range of community projects aimed at developing skills, improving health, revitalising the local environment and enabling people to become more active citizens”.

Funding is available for activities that will benefit the community, including:

- Putting on an event, activity or performance
- Buying new equipment or materials
- Running training courses
- Setting up a pilot project or starting up a new group
- Carrying out special repairs or conservation work
- Paying expenses for volunteers, costs for sessional workers or professional fees
- Transport costs

Check the flyer below for more information and www.frattonbiglocal.org.uk.

Free Community Funding Workshops by Fratton Big Local

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)

Help Build A Permanent Home For The Portsmouth FC Academy

On a day where football is going to be a hot topic amongst everyone in the city, it seems fitting that we help promote this campaign. Portsmouth Football Club has never owned its own training ground inside the city, and now they have a chance to build a permanent home for the club’s first team and the academy.

Financial stability has been brought to the club thanks to supporter investment, making the club the largest fan owned football club in the UK. With this new stability the club are looking to secure the clubs future and this starts with creating new training facilities.

On the 20th May, the club announced that work had begun on a £500,000 training complex at Roko in Hilsea. The funding for this was sourced through the Presidents, Directors and Supporters Trust. This will mean that, for the first time, the club will have their own dedicated training facilities for both the first team squad and the academy. But that’s just Stage One. One of the key elements to selecting Roko was the ability to expand in the future and they have already secured the option to immediately add an additional two pitches and facilities to the rear of the complex to provide a permanent base for the academy teams.

Pompey Academy Campaign

Pompey Academy Campaign

Last year when £2.5m was needed to save Portsmouth FC, fans were asked for an investment of £1,000 for a share in the club. Unfortunately, many fans simply couldn’t afford to but still wanted to contribute to the club that they love. When asked in a recent survey, a large number of fans said they wanted the club to run fan funded projects so they could make a difference. This project is a great way for everyone to get involved and contribute. If every Pompey fan contributed £10-£20 then this should be very much be achievable.

The below film will tell you more about the project. You can go a head and make your contribution by going to www.tifosy.com/campaigns/pompey-academy.

Portsmouth FC Murals by ilovedust (3)
Portsmouth FC Murals by ilovedust

Operation Tanktop Needs You!

The Feel Yourself Campaign are getting together with Earth Wool & Fire to yarn bomb the tank outside the D Day museum during this year’s Victorious Festival, with permission from the organisers and the museum of course.

If you can knit or crochet and can spare the time to donate a square or rectangle of any size to this project, your contribution will be greatly appreciated. If you can’t but you know someone who can, please pass this on them.

They’re running a male orientated crochet night at the Deco on the 1st July at 7.30 to hopefully get some men contributing too. You can come along and be shown how to knit or crochet even just a line will be enough helpful. This is a HUGE undertaking, but a significant operation in the battle to raise awareness of breast and testicular cancers. Please contact the FYC if you can donate to the tank’s new top by email at feelyourselfcampaign@gmail.com.

For more information check out the Facebook Event Page HERE.

Operation Tank Top

For more information about Victorious Festival click HERE.

Mayville High School 100x100x100

Southsea local school Mayville High School on the 14th of May took part in their 100x100x100 project to commemorate WWI, an idea created by Year 9 pupil Fergus Bonnar. The 100x100x100 project saw 100 pupils from Mayville plus teachers and representatives from the Armed Forces take part in a 100 mile walk (one mile each) to mark the 100 years. During the walk the pupils sang war songs from the period on their way to the seafront war memorial.

Once at the memorial pupils chose the name of a individual fallen serviceman to dedicate their personal poppy to and then took part in activities and a service to the fallen of WWI. The money raised in the sponsored event will be split between the charities Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.

“As a community, we were looking for ways to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Students at Mayville always demonstrate a great deal of empathy, so it did not surprise me that a pupil came up with this wonderful idea. We supported Fergus and ran with it to create a valuable educational experience whilst supporting our chosen charities. The insight that our pupils will gain will hopefully foster a more meaningful remembrance activity at the end of the day”. – Head of Boy’s P.E at Mayville Doug Elvy

This project is a really creative and active way of the pupils raising and sharing their own awareness of the Great War, helping the pupils also embed their learning on the subjects & issues and also raising money for good causes.

The film below shows the day’s events:

Doggers of Portsea

‘Doggers of Portsea’ is a photography project and census of dogs and their owners on Portsea Island by Josh Knill. Josh intends to document as many dogs and owners as possible to create a visual record of dog ownership on the island.

‘I am a dog lover and own two dogs myself (Lola a yorkie/spaniel cross and Margot a miniature dachshund) whilst out walking with them I would often wonder what draws people to own a certain breed? How did they choose the dog’s name? The photographic study will culminate in an exhibition of the images, alongside info graphics showing most popular breeds, names, location and owners age. Perhaps a correlation or pattern will emerge? A book will also be published containing the portraits and information.’

If you and your furry friend are interested in taking part in the project and having your portrait shot for free by Josh you can email him at joshknill@gmail.com or you may happen upon him whilst walking your canine companion.

For more information on Josh and to see more of his work you can visit joshknill.com

Gland Rock Festival 2014 in Aid of the Feel Yourself Campaign Feat. The Telescopes & More

GLAND ROCK returns for its second outing on July 5th for the one-day charity festival in aid of Feel Yourself Campaign – promoting cancer awareness for men and women. Situated at The Wedgewood Rooms and Edge of The Wedge in Southsea, Portsmouth, the event ran by Strong Island Recordings, Champagne Justice and Creation for Causes will have incredible live music alongside stalls brimming with an assortment of food, records, clothing and art. Entry is £10 and tickets can be purchased here.

The first Gland Rock, in November 2013, included the likes of Esben and The Witch, Wild Smiles, Traams, The Hundredth Anniversary, Bloodsport, Fever, Shudder Pulps and many more. This year Gland Rock 2014 is led by legendary British outfit The Telescopes formerly on one of the greatest record labels of all time Creation Records and remains as eclectic, electric and impressive, featuring a unique blend of lauded acts and exciting prospects on the ascent. The Telescopes have been hailed as “brilliant” with a “very real and crazy originality that carries fat tons of wallop” by The Wire. Steve Lamacq has championed the band since their inception and they have been described as “in another universe altogether… incredible” by NME. The Telescopes’ spiralling blend of psyche, shoegaze and visceral noise is like no other and Gland Rock is delighted to welcome them as our headline act for 2014.

Also on the line up are the likes of God Damn, AK/DK, Playlounge and Flamingods who have all fast become favourites of gig and festival goers across the country. Elsewhere, we have the bewilderingly exciting Omi Palone and Human Hair, two of the capital’s finest new bands.

On the home front, Southsea is gainfully represented by the bombastic Curxes, You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons, Is Bliss, Rickyfitts, Deluxe Flamingos & Eloise Keating.

Champagne Justice, Creation For Causes, and Strong Island Recordings are proud to bring you Gland Rock 2014 in aid of Feel Yourself Campaign! You can listen to the line up below of the acts playing Gland Rock and check the Facebook event HERE.

Gland Rock 2014

Born – Urban, Community Based Youth Arts

Born – Urban are a non-profit community-based production company that encourages and supports the urban youth to produce quality interdisciplinary performances that educate and challenge their personal views (also focussing on personal and social development). Born – Urban will be giving a dedicated group of young people a chance to devise a performance using dance, drama, music, poetry and more, about issues that affect them directly. The project would be encouraging teenagers aged 16-21 to get involved outside of school/college in a selection of roles such as directing, producing, performing and technical/backstage work; aiming to express issues that are important to them. The project will be including different methods of performance: singing, acting, dancing, rapping, etc. as well as opportunities to help creatively promote and advertise shows.

To kick off the project, Born – Urban are inviting influential creative people in the area to share their approach with an Induction Evening where they would simply be expressing to attendants what they are about, as a company, and aiming to getting them to participate in the different disciplines that would be available. Members involved in the event so far are members of the Brook Club, Highbury College, Jo’s Streetdance Crew, professional film makers and more.

If you are interested in finding out more, finding out about the induction evening or the young person production workshops please call Stephanie on 07943379873.

Born Urban

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.

Portsmouth City Council’s New Website

Portsmouth City Council have launched their new website this week – www.portsmouth.gov.uk. I really like it and think the Council should be commended on achieving a clear layout which should be easy for everyone to use and find their way around.

With the grey background I wonder whether it is too simple and boarding on dull? We have a beautiful city and maybe we could do with selling that a bit more.

Users are encouraged to send any comments or suggestions about the site to webfeedback@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

Portsmouth City Council Website
Portsmouth City Council Website

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 (6)

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
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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.