Strong Island Co.

Cultural & Exhibitions

Birdsong At The Kings Theatre

Marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War, Birdsong is the hit, critically acclaimed stage show based on the famous novel by Sebastian Faulks.

In pre-War France, a young Englishman, Stephen Wraysford embarks on a passionate and dangerous love affair with the beautiful Isabelle Azaire as War breaks out and changes every ones lives forever.

The main character, Stephen, leads his men through the carnage of the Battle of the Somme. A group of men faced with unprecedented horror and grief. A totally mesmerising stage show that evokes all sorts of powerful emotion.

Following on from the 2013/14 National tours that were seen by over 130’000 onlookers, Birdsong is back and we are lucky enough to get the chance to take a look at the King’s Theatre in Southsea.

Showings are on until June 5th and tickets are available to buy direct from the theatre. Don’t miss out!




University of Portsmouth CCI Graduate Show 2015 Pt. 1 – Architecture Installation

We’ll be posting up our reviews & photos of the University of Portsmouth CCi Graduate Show all this week, looking at the graduate work from the different courses we visited on Friday plus the Strong Island award winners from this year. We’ll also be catching up with last year’s winners too to see what they’ve been up to over the next week or two.

First up though, you couldn’t help but be impressed in the Eldon Building courtyard with this wooden installation by the Architecture team. The plan is to keep it there for a while and the wood should age with weather and time, making it a real centrepiece for the future. The open ended sphere shape works like a form of lens, framing the building beyond. I did ask if this might tour the city…the thought of looking through it out over the Solent could be pretty special.

You Can Now Take Part in Creative Census Portsmouth

Every year, for the last five years, Strong Island has taken on a large creative project aiming to engage with people from all over the city of Portsmouth. We had the Strong Island Exhibition at the Round Tower, the PRIMARY photography project & exhibition, Creating Balance, Creative Cargo and for 2015 we’re running Creative Census.

The creative industries in the UK have grown dramatically in recent years, become a power house of economic growth and innovation in the national economy. As of January 2015 the Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy for the creative industries has increased 25.8% since 2008, with the creative industries contributing £8.8 million to the UK economy every hour*. In recent years the creative sector in Portsmouth has grown dramatically and for the very first time we want to take a measure of the sector in the city.

The first Portsmouth Creative Census aims to measures the size, shape and make up of the creative industries workforce in the city. It also aims to identify emerging trends and question what are the resource needs and funding issues that could benefit the industry by helping it to grow and flourish in the future. The census aims to look at any individual, organisation and business who is either based in the city or works primarily in the city (check the Creative Census website full details on if you can qualify for the census). We need your help to leverage local, regional and national bodies to address your issues and build a stronger creative sector.

The census aims to engage with people working in different creative sectors such as Advertising, Marketing, Architecture, Crafts, Design (product, fashion and graphic), Film, TV, Video, Radio, Photography, IT & Software (including web design & application development), Publishing, Museums, Galleries, Libraries, Music, Performing & Visual Arts and more. If you work within these different strands of the creative industries, we really want to hear from you right now!

Creative Census Portsmouth 2015 in now LIVE, with the census open for contributions from now until August 2015. Once the census is closed we’ll collate all of the data and working with statisticians, experts in the sector and graphic designers we’ll produce a presentation with all of the information created by the census. We aim to release the presentation by December 2015.

To enter the census and find out much more about the project please visit:

Creative Census Portsmouth Now Open

* DCMS Creative Industries Economic Estimates – January 2015

Ladies Of Letters – An Alphabet Of Reconstructed Pin Up Girls

I first became aware of Create by Law during our Strong Island Exhibition in the Round Tower back in 2011. This Friday Law will be opening her solo exhibition ‘Ladies of Letters’ at King’s Ship Tattoos on Marmion Road.

Law describes her collages are often inspired initially by text, which is then followed by a ‘visual treasure hunt’, to source and find appropriate ‘original’ imagery and papers that can visualise the concept that she has sketched or imaged. “I mainly use paper ephemera and found material from the 50’s and 60’s as these seem to work with the chalkier colour palette I favour but also the visual language that the imagery of this era inspires.”

Law has created a sequence of traditional cut and paste collages, using vintage paper ephemera and original 50’s images of Pin Up girls. The Pin Up imagery has been re-constructed and given new narratives, with each image having a level of euphemism and humour attached to give each piece an individual story. Pieces include DJ Darling, Hotwire Hottie, Telephone Temptress and Wild Whiplash so you get the idea of the ‘Carry On’ esqe wit and sauciness that you can expect to find.

The event itself opens from 7pm but for more information check out the Facebook Event page HERE.

You can find out more from Create by Law on her website and Facebook.

Created By Law
Night Nurse
Created By Law
Hotwire Hottie
Created By Law
DJ Darling
Ladies of Letters

University of Portsmouth Graduate Show 2015

A highlight of the creative calendar in the city each year is the University of Portsmouth Faculty for the Creative and Cultural Industries Graduate Show. Each year sees the Eldon Building changed up in to a giant gallery, with floors dedicated to Illustration, Photography, Fine Art, Architecture, Graphic Design, Game Design, Animation, Fashion & Textile Design, Film, Performing Arts and much more. The 2015 Graduate Show kicks off tomorrow (Friday 29th) at 5pm and will include some live performances by Peach and the New Beats and Batala Portsmouth drummers. If you can’t make it the show will be up for a week and you can also watch the Graduate Show and pre-show interviews broadcast live from CCI TV from midday – 8pm at CCI TV.

This year will be the second year we will give out our Strong Island Creative Graduates to Watch Awards, with awards going to graduates from Illustration, Graphic Design and Photography who we feel have bright futures ahead after studying in Portsmouth. As always we’ll be posting up a review of the show next week too.

To find out more about the show visit the link below, the Facebook event and also have a watch of the preview film for this year plus the summary film from 2014’s show too.

University of Portsmouth Graduate Show 2015

Strong Island Creative Graduates to Watch Awards 2015

Preview for 2015

Graduate Show 2014

Collectors and Collecting Conference at the University of Portsmouth

For the last few months or so the act of collecting and the role of the collector (or curator) has been something we’ve been talking about a lot, particularly in reference to the current main exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum: A Hard Choice. The exhibition is personally curated by the city’s Collections Manager Rosalinda Hardiman and it puts a focus on how important collections and curation can be.

On Friday 5th June 2015 the University of Portsmouth are holding a one day conference entitled Collectors and Collecting which will focus on collecting. For centuries humans have conceptualised their identities through the activity of collecting. The practice of defining culture, space and time through interactions and relationships with objects appears to be a recurring feature of human history and has led to a long tradition of memorialising the past in libraries, museums, archives and personal collections. Since civilisation began, there has been an ever-increasing trend for collecting objects, from exotic souvenirs of antiquity to photograph albums, objets d’art to folk tales and songs, literary mementoes to governmental archives. In recent years, this has led to the meaningful object being explored and theorised in many disciplines, including literature, art and museums studies, to name but a few.

The conference aims to look at all aspects of collecting from early modern collections of souvenirs to Victorian forms of control through categorisation and the nostalgic renewal of past forms; from the eclectic juxtapositions of Modernism all the way through to today with modern creative uses of the archive, fandom and cult collectors.

The conference will host keynote speaker Professor Susan Pearce, currently Professor Emeritus of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, who has written extensively on the meaningful object, and the interrelations between individuals and artefacts. The programme also includes another 15 talks from a variety of experts in the field covering many different related subjects:

  • – Collectors and collections from the perspective of literary, film and art history disciplines
  • – The representation of collections and collectors in literature and film
  • – Collections in Museums, archives, libraries and galleries
  • – Literary collections and literary collectors
  • – Fandom and cult collecting
  • – The Imperial Archive and postcolonialism
  • – Expanded definitions of the collection – countries, people, memories
  • – The psychology of collecting and habits of collecting
  • – The history of collecting; the relations of collecting to history
  • – Collections of: photography, manuscripts, souvenirs, postcards, stamps, naturalists’ collections (insects etc.), books, music, stories, autographs, magazines, albums and scrapbooks, letters, life-writing etc.
  • – Theories of the collection including thing theory, archive theory, object theory, museum theory and cultural memory theory
  • – Subjectivity and objectivity in the collection
  • – Experiences of researching the collection and fictional researchers

You can see the full programme HERE (PDF).

Tickets for the day are only £35 including lunch and can be booked online:

You can find out more about the conference by emailing or visit the Collectors and Collecting conference blog.

Collectors and Collecting Conference at the University of Portsmouth

Review of Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition at Coastguard Studio

Coastguard Studio this past weekend was host to it’s fifth (if I remember right) exhibition in a matter of six months or so, this one being a spin-off show to to the hugely successful Under the Spotlight exhibition earlier this year. Under the Spotlight | Photography brought together 30 photographers who are either based in Portsmouth or have strong ties with the city and the large open plan gallery space was packed full of diverse and engaging work.

I started off in the bar area, grabbing a beer and then checking out the panels lining the walls to this back space of Coastguard Studio. The first series that caught the eye were a pair of medium format, multiple exposures by Matt Ankers. I’ve seen a lot of Matt’s digital and commercial work (such as Victorious) so it was great to see his more personal work. The two images complemented each other well with emotive seaside scenes shot locally. Great to see film well represented in the exhibition. Next door on the wall was a series of film-noir inspired portraits by University of Portsmouth student Harry Murphy. This small wall right from the get go showed the incredible diversity of work produced for the exhibition and the different backgrounds of the contributors.

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition - Matt Ankers
Work by Matt Ankers.

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition - Harry Murphy
Work by Harry Murphy.

Another eye catching and intriguing panel was by Deborah Holton. The panel of 4 matched images showed x-ray collections of objects found on beach walks, going back over a decade or more. Each individual beach collection was kept in a 35mm film canister and could consist of beach glass, stones, sand and more. The idea behind the project and the dedication and composition consistency elevated this work to a highly conceptual piece that I’m sure inspired a few people to consider striking up their own ambitious concepts and projects in the future.

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition - Deborah Holton
Work by Deborah Holton.

Also in this space were works by Andrew Hayward whose photography we’ve featured on a few occasions on Strong Island. On display were a small set of Andrew’s personal project capturing the oasis feel of service stations at night (also recently exhibited in a solo show with Aspex Gallery and Portsmouth Guildhall). The different garages shot in the same compositional style created a sense of consistency in the panel, drawing the eye in to discover more about the lit forecourts and bringing to mind the memories of late night road trips with friends and finding a sanctuary of fuel for the car and for the passengers. We’re actually exhibiting Andrew’s latest project in Strong Island Co very soon, keep an eye out for details.

Also shown in the room was work by Billie Cawte with her series of photos of projections shot around Portsmouth. These carefully considered images matched a location with a projection of a vintage image, shot at night, instilling a sense of continuity of a sense of place extending beyond normal, individual perceptions of time. These also, in a pleasantly strange way, bring to life forgotten functional corners of buildings. There was lots more to see in this space with other work by local photographers, I spent a little more time looking around before moving in to the large, open main exhibition space.

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition

Straight away it was great to see the place so busy. It was early-ish on the Saturday night and the place was full of people of all ages checking out the work and chatting. Its always great to take a step back in an exhibition and just see people enjoying it. There is way too much work to go through individually here but a few panels really caught my eye for very different reasons. In one corner were a series of 360 images taken by Guilhem Brandy which showed different, familiar, spots around the city in an interesting new way. Changing up perspectives of familiar places is something I personally really like and this series from Albert Road, Southsea Seafront, Garrison Church and Guildhall Square drew you in to find out more.

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition

One of the many great things about a shared exhibition is that the work touches on so many different subjects, drawing out many different thoughts and feelings from the people viewing the work. In a matter of a few steps you could take in the B&W film street photography by Matt Maber exploring the physical, social and cultural boundaries of Fratton Park on a Saturday afternoon through to the questioning and bold nudes by Ashton Keiditsch. In particular the powerful image of a lady with a partial mastectomy meant that the exhibition tackled some heavyweight subjects and these honest and questioning portraits looking at contemporary body image issues rightly raised discussion. The work reminded me of the recent series by Bryan Adams and also The Battle We Didn’t Choose.

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition - Ashton Keiditsch
Work by Ashton Keiditsch.

Also panels that caught the eye included: the photos of Diana Goss whose work has a foot in each of her professions: photography and psychotherapy, the long exposures by both Elmer Maniebo and Jon Neil, the portraits by Aaron Bennett, the views on old age by Yasmin Collins and so, so much more. Hopefully the photos below give you a glimpse.

If you want to see the work in person the exhibition is open until Friday from 12pm to 2pm. Check the Coastguard Studio Facebook page for more information HERE.

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition - Yasmin Collins

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition - Aaron Bennett

Under the Spotlight | Photography Exhibition

Under The Spotlight – Photography Exhibition at Coastguard Studio

You’ll probably remember earlier this year the Under the Spotlight exhibition held at the Coastguard Studio in Southsea, where over 50 local artists, photographers, designers, street artists and more were part of one of the largest group shows in a while. This Saturday sees the opening of a spin-off to that exhibition Under the Spotlight – Photography that, as the name suggests, places the attention firmly on photographers’ work.

This new group exhibition brings together 30 photographers who are either based in Portsmouth and Southsea or have very strong links with the area. The photographers are:

Monika Feczko-Guzman, Shaun Roster, Salvatore Alessandro, Matt Ankers, Ashton Keiditsch, Aaron Bennett, Guilhem Brandy, Billie Rae Cawte, Thomas Martinez, Diana Goss, Andrew Paul Hayward, Matt Maber, Isabel Hernandez, Elmer Maniebo, Andrew Malbon, Harry Murphy, Jon Neil, Awful Shame, Emily Whiting, Mad Johnny, Cameron Windsor, Paul Windsor, Dario Scovacricchi, Mark Persaud, Connor Warren, Jessica Bowers, Jonty Sexton, Deborah Holton, Yasmine Collins & Ali Tollervey.

If you’ve been following Strong Island for a while or have bought our calendar over the years many of those names will be familiar to you, there is no doubt this will be a fantastic collection of images.

The exhibition opens this Saturday at 5pm, find out more details on the exhibition Facebook event HERE and over at:

Under The Spotlight - Photography Exhibition at Coastguard Studio

Ghost Stories – Explore Portsmouth City Museum at Night

As part of Museums at Night (a UK wide cultural event seeing museums used out of normal hours) Portsmouth City Museum offer something a little different; explore Portsmouth Museum by torchlight as you search out guides to hear dark tales of Portsmouth. With literature classics such as M. R. James and Dickens woven into the narrative the stories will literally come to life right in front of your eyes. As you weave your way around the whole Museum, entering areas not usually opened to the public, you will hear tales of ghosts and murder. But as the tour progresses the stories become darker and darker…

The tour is on Sunday 17th May (this Sunday) and starts at 7.30pm.

Tickets £15 which must be purchased in advance online HERE. Places are very limited so book soon. Suitable for 12 years+ if accompanied by an adult.

Ghost Stories - Explore Portsmouth City Museum at Night

Lyndon Richards Old Portsmouth Houses on House Bricks Exhibition at Aspex Gallery

I first discovered the house brick paintings of Lyndon Richards during last year’s Portsmouth Festivities Spice Island Art Trail where a small street of bricks were arranged in Portsmouth Cathedral (you can see our article HERE). Each brick formed a painted building or house, with people able to commission their own home to be painted. The thing that caught my eye was the Old Portsmouth buildings, with much of that part of the city destroyed during the Blitz bombing raids aimed at the Dockyard, it was interesting to see this part of the city come to life through these brick paintings.

Aspex Gallery have a new exhibition opening today with Southsea artist Lyndon Richards with the Old Portsmouth houses on original house bricks on display in the Cafe from Friday 15 May – Sunday 7 June. This exhibition of eighteen works marks the beginning of a much larger project. Lyndon is planning to spend the next 2 – 3 years painting a brick portrait of every building in Old Portsmouth’s High Street c.1860, with a view to this becoming a permanent external exhibition.

“My brick house portraits are inspired by my dual passions: Art & Architecture. When I paint, I seek to capture the very essence of a building, its beauty, character, history, and memories within. I am inspired by the complexity of architecture, its history and evolution, a collaboration of skills and trades producing works of art to be cherished and loved.

The brick houses — each of which feature a house on Old Portsmouth’s High Street — are painted to scale, ensuring balance, integrity and preservation of the original architecture. I only use house bricks from the 19th century to ensure an individuality that compliments the uniqueness of each portrait.”

Entry to this exhibition is FREE. A preview evening, open to the public and also free, will take place on tonight from 18.00-20.00h.

Lyndon Richards Houses on House Bricks Exhibition at Aspex Gallery (1)

Lyndon Richards Houses on House Bricks Exhibition at Aspex Gallery (2)

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Transport No. 2: The Hovercraft

Southsea seafront has iconic and familiar structures and views but ever since the mid 60s we also have the familiar sound of the hovercraft engines as it repeatedly arrives and leaves for Ryde. This hovercraft route itself was the first Hovercraft passenger service in the world and Hovertravel Limited, founded in 1965, is the world’s longest established commercial hovercraft operator. The first hovercraft was first developed on the Isle of Wight in 1955 when inventor Sir Christopher Cockerell tested out his idea for a floating/flying craft by putting a cat food tin inside a coffee tin. After fine-tuning his designs, Sir Christopher Cockerell secured funding to build a hovercraft. Saunders Roe, the flying boat firm in Cowes on the Isle of Wight was given the contract. The commercial success of hovercraft was initially huge but subsequently suffered from rapid rises in fuel prices during the late 1960s and 1970s. Since the channel routes abandoned hovercraft the United Kingdom’s only public hovercraft service is now our one operating from Southsea.

In 1972 Hovertravel’s SR-N6 012 overturned off of Southsea with a loss of five lives. This was the world’s first fatal accident involving a commercially operated hovercraft. Apart from this one incident the service has an incredible safety record and is used day in day out to transfer up to 100,000 passengers a year.

The hovercraft is a wonderful and now unique form of local transport and something to celebrate and also to actively enjoy with a trip. Booking and travel information is available at the Hovertravel website.

To discover more about hovercraft we are lucky to have the Hovercraft Museum just down the road in Lee-On-Solent which houses the world’s largest library of documents, publications, film, video, photographs and drawings on hovercraft and a collection of actual hovercraft too including the last two remaining SR.N4 craft, the world’s largest civil hovercraft.

Hitler’s reaction to The Registry closing down.

This is just classic. I’ve seen a few others before. I think I saw one about accidentally using Arial instead of Helvetica, funny stuff. This one however is just hilarious, if you know the Portsmouth pub scene. More so if you’ve ever ben a student.

RETROSPECTIVE – Vintage Portsmouth & Southsea

“Since Strong Island began back in 2008 we have amassed an incredible amount of historical information about Portsmouth & Southsea’s past. These articles are not only from our own interest and passion about the city, but also from readers that have sent us some amazing facts. So much has changed in such a relatively short amount of time and the fast pace of life around us can make it easy to forget the importance of this cities history.

Retrospective‘ takes a look back at some of our previous posts incase you missed them in the past or you’re one of our new readers. One day myself and Paul hope to create a stand alone archive here utilising all the books and photos we have collected that haven’t made it on to Strong Island as of yet. With permission of course! So much to do and so little time. Enjoy.”

This is one seriously awesome vintage photography collection from Pop Olive33 that I found on Flickr a while back (sadly no longer active). Check out Osborne Road and Guildhall. Just incredible. It’s hard to imagine a time when traffic flowed through Guildhall, and that was only in 1968 and the shot looking west down Osborne Road is amazing. Trams, horses, grand buildings, a traffic cop, ladies & gents. It’s all going on…

Originally published Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Old Ships and The Point

Continuing from the HMS Vanguard photos from earlier this week, this one shot from above shows the scale of the ship and her guns, which are as big as the pubs! The second photo is of HMS Victorious passing out in the 50s, with the old power station in the background. Hard to believe such a huge, dominating landmark like that is now just a memory.

Click on the images to see larger versions. Photos are taken from the wonderful Portsmouth From The Air book by Anthony Triggs.

Created Local – Carl Partridge

Portsmouth’s Carl Partridge is a local artist and photographer currently studying MA Communication Design up in that there London at Central St Martins. As well as all the awesome artwork on his website we particularly liked his Lomo Diana photos from round Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. Be sure to look through the good work over at



Vintage Portsmouth & Southsea

Awesome vintage photography collection from Pop Olive33 that I found on Flickr a while back. Check out Osborne Road and Guildhall. Epic. Hard to imagine a time when traffic flowed through Guilders, and that was only in 1968 and the shot looking west down Osborne Road is amazing. Trams, horses, grand buildings, a traffic cop, ladies & gents. It’s all going on. To view the full collection head over to Pop Olive’s Flickr photostream HERE and the Portsmouth set HERE.

There’s Snow Day like a Snow Day

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

Southsea & Portsmouth Guide

Local photographer Steve Bomford recently sent over a series of scans from the 1926 Official Publication of the Southsea Beach & Publicity Committee Portsmouth Corporation book ‘Southsea & Portsmouth’.

‘It is of little use to invite intending holiday makers to a town, unless there are attractions to offer, under all conditions of our notorious fickle ‘English’ climate. We do not make the statement that the sun shines every day at Southsea, but records show that we do get the maximum amount of sunny hours. Last year again, 1,923 hours were recorded, the highest number (with one exception) in the United Kingdom. Admitting that the question of sunshine is an important one, it is contended that a holiday resort must have other attractions, such as charming amenities, efficient public services, splendid variety of amusements, good facilities for all outdoor sports, and a good selection of cheap excursions and places of historical interest, to make a general appeal to those who are seeking a health-giving and enjoyable holiday.”

I love all the old hand drawn adverts and especially like the ‘medically recommended’ page. Where the sun lingers longer. Couldn’t be closer to the truth still to this day. It’s a shame the ‘most artistic cafe in Southsea’ is no longer in operation and the amount of people gathered on South Parade beach is incredible. Be sure to check out the full set with over 80 pages of photos, adverts and chapters all about Portsmouth & Southsea over at Steve’s Flickr HERE. A really interesting read if you like your history. And we know you do.

Two for a Fiver mate…

I’m really digging this Tea Towel they have for sale down Clarence Pier. Great little illustrations of some of our more recognisable landmarks and modes of travel. A great addition to any kitchen.


Matt Saxey’s Bike Ride Photos

Head on over to Matts Flickr and check out a few more photos from last Sunday’s ride. Great photos that really help capture the event.



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