With the start of Autumn, Southsea has seen the opening of a new creative space: Play Dead, that is part tattoo studio and part creative/gallery space. We caught up with the Play Dead crew to find out what’s going on down on Highland Road:
How did the idea for Play Dead come about?
We (Samo and Lex) first discussed the idea of Play Dead back in 2014. That’s when the search for a suitable property began and our plans for exactly what we wanted to set up started taking shape. We knew we wanted a more evolved conceptual tattoo studio, but as we are both involved in the street art scene it made sense to incorporate our love of that, and make our space a little more unique. Our mix of tastes and passions for things like fine art, character based art, vintage, music, and all things strange and wonderful have also helped to mould the look and style of what was to become Play Dead: a fine art/street art gallery, and custom tattoo studio.
What’s the team behind Play Dead? How did everyone get involved?
Whilst Samo and Lex remain at the core of Play Dead, we have carefully chosen a team of artists who are already well established in their own right. We’re very fortunate that the guys on our ‘wish list’ agreed to join us and we all get on like one big Play Dead Family:
Lex (Lex Luthor, LexLX, LexArt) : Doodler, Illustrator, Street Artist, Designer and Creative at All Caps and Supervillain. As the only member of the team who doesn’t tattoo, Lex is responsible for the look and style of the Play Dead name, and its continuous development. Check Lex on Instagram: @lexart.
Samo : Creative artist whose work encompasses painting, street art, sculpture and conceptual tattoo art. Samo uses watercolour, brush strokes, and geometry in a lot of her work. She enjoys the challenge of developing her freehand style from the page to the skin and using the body as a canvas. Check Samo on Instagram: @samotattoos.
Sam Hugh : A creative tattooer with a more traditional edge. Bold lines, heavy black and bright colours. Old school tuff stickers and tatty bangers for outlaws and reprobates. Check Sam on Instagram: @acidbathvampire.
Lou Lapin : Play Dead’s Tattoo Apprentice. With no higher education and being a single parent at a young age Lou has worked incredibly hard to forge a creative career. She started out as a toymaker and illustrator and now channels this into tattooing. Influenced by artists like Tove Jansson (creator of the Moomins) and Scandinavian folk tales her work is always sweet with a melancholic edge. Check Lou on Instagram: @lapin_lou.
What do you think Play Dead brings to the city?
We aim to be a creative space and street art hub, with a slightly darker edge. A unique combination of tattoo studio and gallery space, we are a home for creative artists to exhibit their work, buy materials or just hang out. Play Dead is somewhere that is ever evolving and offering something different to the norm.
Thoughts on the city’s street art scene at the moment?
We love how the street art scene in Portsmouth has grown over the past decade or so. From projects organised by the Portsmouth Creative Movement to art events at The Teatray, Coastguard Gallery, and Southsea Skatepark. Portsmouth is developing into a city that embraces creativity and street art. We’re very proud to be a part of this exciting movement. We believe that the Portsmouth street art scene is attracting tourists and art lovers from afar and firmly putting Portsmouth on the map.
Huge respect to all those involved in making Portsmouth and Southsea a more creative and visually exciting environment. Artists such as: Fark, My Dog Sighs, M-One, Midge, Mimic, Dharma, Morf, Higher, Monk, Leila, Mr Kemp, Berk and Los Dave have been committed to pushing the local street art scene further and attracting other renowned artists to the area. We look forward to working with these guys more in the future, on many exciting projects to come.
What sort of exhibitions do you have planned for the future?
Next for us is an exciting show by local artist My Dog Sighs, entitled: Quiet Little Voices. This will open on Friday 13th November (7pm) and is planned to run until early December. We’re really looking forward to seeing his new work for this. As well as the art on the walls, there’ll be My Dog Sighs tshirts, prints and a few other surprises.
We’re very interested in offering a different kind of art show – unique to each artist. So they are invited to take over the gallery space and use it however they wish. We’re on hand to support their ideas and realise their vision.
After the My Dog Sighs show, we have an exhibition of work from the talented stencil artist M-One. And in 2016, we have a range of artists lined-up, from street art to fine art, illustration and tattooing.
Also on the weekend of November 13th, 14th and 15th we have the talented tattoo artist Funns at Play Dead for a guest spot. Check him out on instagram; @funns
How’s life in PO4? Highland Road is a little off the beaten track to the more established traditionally thought of creative parts of the city, what are its advantages?
Yeah, it’s great. We love it here. We like being different and standing out from our surroundings. Plus, the space, the frontage, and the area was exactly what we were looking for. We like to think that people don’t mind taking an extra five minutes walk from Albert Road to pop along and come see us.
What are your plans for the future of Play Dead?
Our plans are to continue producing high quality and unique tattoos, to help showcase creative talent, not just from street art but a whole variation of art forms. We will collaborate with other creative groups and individuals. We would also like to continue developing and building the Play Dead name, through clothing designs, events, workshops, and whatever else we might think of. We will continue to keep offering the people of Portsmouth a little something different – a little darker. It’s exciting times for us.
Follow Play Dead on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates @playdeadstudio.
Continuing our long running series Created Local that looks at different creative people who call Southsea and Portsmouth home (we’ve featured over 100) this time we catch up with local photographer Paul Watt.
How did you get in to photography originally?
Like most people I’ve always enjoyed snapping away with various point and shoot cameras but It wasn’t until two years ago that it became a hobby in itself. I bought a Canon 35mm slr and lens from ebay for about a tenner and I discovered that I really enjoyed the whole experience of specifically going out to take photographs. I suffer quite badly from anxiety but I feel a lot calmer when I’m behind a lens. I think that reflects in my images. Corny but true!
What’s your usual camera gear set up?
I generally shoot on a Canon 1200D with the 18-55mm kit lens. I use a tripod that I bought from the Southsea carboot sale and a generic wired shutter release. I also have a few sets of Neutral Density filters (both screw in type and square).
I’m really impressed with this DSLR, it’s the entry level model but so long as you accept it’s limitations (weather sealing would be nice!) you can get some good results with it.
There’s always going to be an outlay with photography but I believe you don’t have to spend thousands of pounds to take a decent photo. It’s the photographer not the camera that takes the picture.
For editing my images I use Photoshop and Lightroom.
You shot a lot of monochrome images, what do you like about b&w?
I think b&w photos seem to convey more emotion than a full colour shot, with a few obvious exceptions like sunrise’s and sunsets.
Odd things begin to happen in a b&w photograph, especially with long exposures, where you can get an image that’s both calming and dynamic all at once. Funnily I think a black and white image looks warmer than a full colour image on a sunny day.
This photo is a good example of that. The sun was too high in the sky really but it just seems to work in b&w.
Paul Watt – Boats in Motion.
You take some fantastic long exposure images during the day, can you talk us through how you go about one of these shots?
Thanks! The first thing I look for is the sun. If it’s a bright day, the biggest problem I have is light spots and lens flare. I don’t like to use a lens hood because I find it very limiting if I want my lens at its widest. I’ve been known to open the shutter and stand to one side of the camera to block the sun. Maybe not the most technical approach but it works for me.
My biggest tip is to use the mirror lock function and a piece of low-tack painters masking tape over the view finder. I ruined many a photo with light leaks before I figured that one out!
With this photo (man fishing) I was on the lovely walkway along Old Portsmouth with the lens angled down enough to avoid the lens flare.
I took a photo without any filters first to capture the fisherman sharply then very carefully attached a ND10 and a ND6 filter so I could really slow down the exposure and smooth out the water. Because I hadn’t changed my composition at all it was fairly straightforward to blend the images together in photoshop and create the finished result.
Paul Watt – Man Fishing.
What are your favourite locations in Portsmouth to shoot? Favourite time of year/day?
There’s so many to choose from! My favourite has to be the coast around the Fort Cumberland area/Langstone harbour. I much prefer shooting at dawn, it’s not much fun in the middle of summer when dawn is around 5am but it’s really worth it.
The light is amazing at that time of day, plus aside from a few joggers and dog walkers I generally have the beach to myself. Even If I don’t get a good image, I’ve spent the morning on the beach. Not a bad way to start your day!
Autumn has always been my favourite season, it’s just such a mellow time of year.
I live on Albert Road which in itself is pretty photogenic (even without it’s more colourful residents!)
What makes Portsmouth a good city for photographers do you think?
The sheer variety of things to take photos of. It’s more than possible to take landscapes in the morning on the beach, Street and urban photography in the afternoon then shoot a gig in the evening. It’s just such a varied, interesting and diverse city.
I don’t have a car so living in Portsmouth where there’s tonnes of decent locations within walking distance is pretty awesome for me.
Paul Watt – Old Posts Older Sea.
What photographers inspire you?
There’s an amazing photographer called Paul Sanders. His portfolio is full of stunning long exposure photography and he’s a nice guy to boot. I spend a lot of time looking at his (and others) photo’s trying to figure out how they did it then apply those techniques to my own photography.
I also like a guy called Thomas Heaton. He does a lot of wild camping in the Peak District and gets some amazing photos.
Thanks Paul! You can see more of Paul’s photos below and see lots more of Paul’s awesome photography at:
This December three local artists, Daniel Cook, Jon Davies and Kendal James are taking part in a new exhibition exploring and celebrating artwork inspired by Japanese culture.
Computer games, comic books and dinosaurs will be feature as part of the exhibition which opens from 16th November until 29th November. The art work will then move to The King Street Tavern and be displayed throughout December.
Details of the event can be found on the Facebook Event page here.
Local artist and Lawn Of The Dead founder James Waterfield has teamed up with a group of local artists including My Dog Sighs and Ooberla to create their own customised Lawn Of The Dead skull. Each skull is available to buy from Community Fusion’s Made With Hartt shop with all profits from those sold go to the Community Fusion charity.
Tomorrow from between 1:30-4:30pm James will taking over the Made With Hartt shop on Elm Grove and giving kids (and adults) a chance to drop in and create their own day of the dead skulls.
For more information on how you can get involved call Jenna at Community Fusion on 07582 919091 or email email@example.com.
For more information on this and other halloween events going on this half term check out the charities Facebook and Twitter @CommunityFusion.
After the out success of Kingsley Nebechi‘s Tribe Hunter book which sold out in less than six weeks he’s now released ‘Nori’ which is an A3 giclée print which Kingsley credits this illustration for being the inspiration for creating the book.
You can get your hands on the awesome original design and the new even more colourful variant for a mere £20 at www.kingsleynebechi.bigcartel.com.
You can follow more of Kingsley on his Tumblr, Twitter @KingsleyNebechi and Instagram @KingsleyNebechi.
This Thursday evening at Strong Island HQ we will be keeping our doors open later than usual to welcome home one of our favourite artists Aled Lewis.
Aled made the move to our capital just over a decade ago and in a relatively short space of time has been involved a large number of exciting projects. Many of which have been inspired by his wicked sense of humour and his love of classic pop culture. His excellent work has led to international recognition and having his work featured in Los Angeles. He can even boast celebrity fans including Jurassic Park’s Sam Neill, The Walking Dead’s Michael Rooker who plays bad buy Merle Dixon and the Cornetto trio of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.
Aled has teamed up with a group of artists to explore the simple theme of British Comedy. Other featured artists include Rose Stallard, Mark Ward, Toby Triumph, Toby Leigh, Dave Brown, Emily Forgot, Laura Gee, Paul Thurlby, Lobulo, Jess Wilson, Rexbox, Rob Flowers and Robert Ball.
So come join us, enjoy some FREE drinks and help to celebrate some of the best loved comedies from our youth.
* The team behind Home Is Where The Art Is have kindly donated one of the prints for one lucky winner! All you need to do is pop into the store after 7pm and leave us your email and we will announce the winner at 9:30pm that evening! *
Tomorrow evening Southsea-based artist and illustrator Dave Thompson is currently being featured in Aspex‘s Guildhall gallery. Not to be confused with the Gunwharf gallery this event is based in the Portsmouth Guildhall.
Hopefully you will have all seen Dave’s 1950s travel art inspired illustrations. Most recently his design was selected as the official event poster for the America’s Cup event earlier this summer. Dave has a large body of work which features many of Portsmouth’s best loved landmarks as well as those in neighbouring counties and some slightly more famous cities including London, Paris and New York City.
You can find out more about Dave’s work on his website www.davethompsonillustration.com.
After the success of his first book Portsmouth University graduate and Graphic Designer, Sam Barclay is returning with a beautifully remastered version of ‘I Wonder What it’s Like to be Dyslexic’. The book aims to provide readers with a beautiful, design-led experience of what it feels like to struggle with reading.
Sam took to Kickstarter in order to raise the funds to publish his first book and he is returning to the website to help raise the money for revised version. If you are not aware of what Kickstarter is, it is a global crowdfunding platform which launched in 2009. The aim of a Kickstarter campaign is to raise money for a project which could be anything from a film, games, music, art, design and technology. The project creators choose a deadline and a minimum funding goal. If the goal is not met by the deadline, no funds are collected.
The first version of the book attracted total funding of £55,000 in thirty days, surpassing the initial target of £14,500, and continued to sell over 3,000 copies in over thirty countries. Now with this new version Sam wants to build on that success and continue to help and inspire others who suffer with learning difficulties.
Sam has delved deeper into the struggles of reading with a number of typographic experiments and has acted on feedback to include the story of his childhood growing up with Dyslexia, as told by his parents Karen and Ray, in the hope that this will give others the courage to see passed their difficulties with reading.
With studying Graphic Design, typography has always been at the forefront of the project, however Sam hopes that the message you take away from the book will help others: “Feeling stupid because I couldn’t understand things that came so clearly to others used to be all I knew. Having people around me, including my teachers, family and friends that could even slightly understand how that felt has helped me to communicate my frustration and has given me the confidence to succeed in life.”
Check out the link HERE to find out more about the the project and the full range of rewards available for anyone who wants to get involved. With donation rewards starting at just £5 please get involved and help make this original project happen!
If you would like to know more then check out the website www.reedeeng.com and you can follow the project on Facebook, Twitter @reedeeng and Instagram @reedeeng.
Reedeeng – Kickstarter from Sam Barclay on Vimeo.
On 22nd August The Coastguard Studio will open its latest exhibition The Clock Face Exhibition.
Wesley Brown has assembled a team of local creative talent to deliver an exhibition capturing the essence of time in all its glory. The artists involved include Wesley Brown himself as well as Kirsty Herring, Oliver Nelson, Bruce Spruce, Elliot Cranston, Mark Poyner and Stefano Pollina.
Wesley describes the use of time as the theme for the exhibition, “Capturing time is the essence of all photography; every photo is simply a moment we have managed to capture and store, something that we can use to remember it visually forever more. It really allowed me to open up the exhibition to a whole range of concepts”.
As well as the exhibition there will be music courtesy of InDeep Music. Doors open on the night at 6pm and it is looking like To stay up to date with the exhibition visit the Facebook Event page HERE.
By Stefano Pollina
By Wesley Brown
Strong Island and Strong Island Recordings are very proud and excited to announce our involvement in the up coming, brand-new festival Dials Festival taking place across various venues along Albert Road on the 3rd October as well as being able to announce the line-up so far. After the sad news of Southsea Fest taking a year off, we banded together with some familiar faces including The Wedgewood Rooms, Pie & Vinyl, Hong Kong Gardner’s Club and seminal blog Breaking More Waves to still be able to bring a community based, multi-venue, music festival to the city.
Dials Festival will take place across five venues along Albert Road being The Wedgewood Rooms, Edge of the Wedge, Little Johnny Russells, Al Burrito and The Loft. The aim of the festival isn’t to replicate Southsea Fest but retain its ethos of a strong, community festival bringing some of the finest new national acts along with some of the finest acts from around the area to Albert Road for one day. There will be no specifically branded stages at Dials Festival but five venues with a diverse, eclectic mix of acts from day to the evening.
The festival will feature over 40 acts across the day with Hooton Tennis Club signed to Heavenly Records (Toy, King Gizzard, The Wytches) headlining the festival plus the likes of Kagoule, Black Honey, Lyza Jane, Chloe Black, Alice Jemima, Broken Hands, Storms, Morning Smoke, Many Things, Bones, Peluche, Walleater and many more coming down to Southsea along with some of the finest local acts including New Desert Blues, Jerry Williams, Popobawa, The boy i used to be, Bellyeyesmile, Rickyfitts, Battery Hens, Dead Rabbits, Curxes, Wyldest and loads more splendid acts from the area. The full line-up of acts confirmed so far can be found below the article.
Tickets are on sale now at a very limited early-bird price of just £15. That’s £15 for 40 plus acts across five venues from day to evening with some of the finest new acts in the UK. Tickets can be purchased at the Kings Theatre here, in store at Strong Island, Pie & Vinyl, Dress Code as well as The Wedgewood Rooms. There will also be details of an after-party also which your Dials ticket will gain you access to. This is the biggest musical event we have ran yet so we can’t wait for October 3rd. We hope to see many of you there as us and our Dials team bring a new musical venture to the city.