Strong Island Co.

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Aspex Gallery Wins Arts Council England Funding to Develop and Grow

Today it was announced that Portsmouth’s Aspex Gallery was one of 39 organisations to receive funding from Arts Council England in the latest round of their small capital grant programme. The £10.8 million of funding aims to help develop resilience by giving these organisations the right buildings and equipment to deliver their work, and to become more sustainable businesses.

“We’ve seen applications from organisations of all sizes, from far and wide, and it’s fantastic to be able to support their ambitions through our small-scale capital programme. This funding provides support to get many vital projects off the ground, ensuring the successful applicants have the right facilities and equipment to support and deliver their excellent work across the country.” – Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England

The grant of £158,504 will allow Aspex to finance the further development of their stunning historic building at Gunwharf Quays, extending their reach to a much wider audience. The project will include the development of a larger space for Aspex’s award-winning programme of participation workshop and events, which in turn will also improve the gallery’s hire facilities. The former education space will be transformed into a new artists studio, enabling the hosting of regular residencies by local and international artists.

A mobile participation studio will also be created, to allow the gallery to take its work out into the community increasing the number of people who are able to get involved in arts activities.

“As Aspex celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, we are thrilled to have received this significant support from Arts Council England and our small capital project will be an excellent way of starting our celebrations. It will enable us to develop our building to improve its facilities for audiences and artists, while also reducing our environmental impact and improving our sustainability.

Two key new features will be an artists studio, accessible to all of our visitors, who will be invited to engage directly with artists while they work, and a mobile participation studio which will help us to reach out to local communities in and around Portsmouth who do not currently visit the gallery.” – Joanne Bushnell, Director of Aspex

Further improvements will be made to the building’s environmental sustainability and Aspex’s digital capabilities will be upgraded. The build element of this project is scheduled to start in April 2016, and Aspex are currently working to raise the necessary match-funding required to release Arts Council England’s support.

We’re looking forward to seeing this much loved Portsmouth gallery develop and grow in what it offers artistically and through participation with the local schools and community.

Aspex Gallery, Photo © Oliver Tubb/Paul Miller/Victoria Chapter

Creative Video From 14:01 Skateboards Filmed at Southsea Skatepark

Skateboarding is a hotbed of creative talent in the visual arts such as photography and filmmaking. When it comes to creating skate videos there are some defined tropes such as fisheye, low follow filming, etc. so it is great to see some creative ideas pushing it forward. Sam Taylor & Dan Hawkins from YEAROFTIGER worked with local skater Nick Munday and 14:01 Skateboards producing this short film combining green screen, slowmo and Munday’s usual epic pop, all at Southsea Skatepark.

Photos from the shoot by the ridiculously talented 35mm photographer Holly Fernando.

Photos by Holly Fernando

Created Local – Instagram @tomomalleycat

In the second of our special features celebrating some of our favourite Instagram photographers who have links with our city. Today we are featuring the awesome Tom O’Malley (@tomomalleycat).

Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from and your links with Portsmouth if no longer living here?

My name’s Tom and I live and work in Southsea. My short ride to work takes me up to Kings Road where I’m the Lead Designer at the Southsea based digital agency Si digital. I first arrived in the city about 12 years ago to study illustration at the University. I was instantly sucked into the Southsea lifestyle. I love living by the sea and enjoy surfing or paddleboarding when opportunities present themselves. However, I can’t say I’ve ever surfed in Southsea – apparently it can happen though.

Do you have a favoured camera or device that you use for your Instagram photography?

My Instagram account has been on a journey with me through my various iPhones. I think it started as low as the iPhone 3G along with a lot of edited blurry images and horrible frames around my photos. I do own an SLR but I’ve always enjoyed the impromptu nature of snapping that ideal moment on my phone whereas if I’m carrying my camera, I’m most likely searching for that perfect photo.

Can you tell us more about your photographic experience, is this something that you’ve studied or maybe a hobby which you’ve developed?

I’ve never studied photography but having worked within the creative industries, I guess you could say I’ve been exposed to decent photography and composition. Before progressing within digital design I started out as a magazine designer so working with photography was a big part of my job role. Since the emergence of Instagram, I think it’s turned a casual interest into a hobby due to it’s accessibility and audience. I started really using the platform as a photo diary when I went travelling around the world for 6 months with my girlfriend. It was a fantastic way to share my experience with friends and family. Once home, I printed all of my photos with Social Print Studio ( and added them to a handcrafted box which I gave to Fi for Christmas – she loved it. There was something quite nice about having those tiny little square memories of our travels in a physical form.

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@TomOMalleyCat 7

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@TomOMalleyCat 4

Would you say that you take photos more for yourself or for others?

I’d say myself, as it’s my own visual diary. My Instagram account is an honest and varied collection of little life moments, whether it’s travel, having fun with friends or renovating my house. It’s a little glimpse at my photographic endeavours with filters.

Exploring the theme of the “Local”, Portsmouth has a wide variety of climatic conditions, buildings and landscapes. Are there any local places or environments that are personal to you or that you love to photograph for a particular reason?

As I mentioned earlier, I love to be by the sea and most of the time I’ll take photos around there but Southsea has some great streets and buildings too, so I’m always exploring the opportunities. A little while ago I wanted to be more proactive on my lunch breaks so I’d set out on foot across the common to see if something inspired me to take a photo, I was really pleased with some of the photos I took during that time and it encouraged me to think differently and not just walk to the obvious places to take pictures of the sea.

I notice that you are a fan of the burger, can you tell us where is the best place to get one locally?

I do indeed love a good burger and every now and again I’ll take a picture of a tasty one. Without doubt, the best burger I’ve had in Southsea (many times over) is 6 oz Burgers – pink or not. Outside of Southsea, 7 Bone Burger is incredible. To accompany an awesome burger, they have hot ‘n spicy buffalo chicken wings and some mega milkshakes.

Are their any other photographers who either influence you or that you would encourage our readers to also check out?

Those who pop to mind who are worth checking out are fellow designers/photographers that I follow on Instagram. They all take some fantastic photos which inspire me to the degree that they feel achievable as they are normally photos of everyday life experiences.

@MikeKus – Mike lives just across the way in Chichester. His photographs always feel very atmospheric.

@DanRubin – I always enjoy the compositions of Dan’s photography and he takes inspiring photos of ever day things.

@Trashand – I remember watching a video about this guy and how he would wake up at 4am and sneak up to the top of a building to take a photo of the city he was in. His work feels quite epic.

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If you know an Instagram user that you think we should check out then drop us an email or message me on Instagram at @_ChuBarker. Of course you can also find Strong Island on Instagram at @StrongIslandUK and @StrongIslandClothingCo.

Al’Burrito’s Silent Disco

On 26th March our friends over at Al’Burrito will be taking over the Wedgewood Rooms.

The pair will be hosting a huge silent disco featuring the Loco DJ’s. Doors open at 10pm and tickets are available for £5 on the Wedgewood Rooms website here. Those of you who finished up Icebreaker festival at the silent disco will know how great the venue is for such an event.

You can stay up to date on the Facebook Event page here.

Silent Disco by Jonny Bell Photography
Icebreaker Silent Disco by Jonny Bell Photography
Al Burrito Silent Disco

University of Portsmouth Graphic Design Pub Quiz 2016

A firm favourite in the annual diary, the University of Portsmouth Graphic Design Pub Quiz brings together loads of creative minds to battle it out over a quiz packed with design related questions. If you know your pantones like the back of your hand and can spot your typefaces from a mile off or if you don’t know your Comic Sans from your Impact, the night is always good fun and raises vital funds for the final year students in helping them organise and set up their London graduate show.

The rounds are as follows:

Round 1 – Graphic Design
Round 2 – Typography
Round 3 – Music
Round 4 – Mystery
Round 5 – Bonus

As well as the quiz there is also a raffle with lots of great prizes plus Gentle Bren (a course graduate and awesome designer) will be DJing too.

The quiz kicks off from 7pm on Thursday (11th February) at the Fat Fox on Albert Road. It is only £2 per person to enter with teams of a maximum of 5 members. If it is anything like previous years, it will be an awesome night.

The posters (two shown below) are all created by final year students. Liking the xerox drag.

University of Portsmouth Graphic Design Pub Quiz 2016

University of Portsmouth Graphic Design Pub Quiz 2016 (1)

Hotwalls Studios – Applications For Studios Now Open

Since the early beginnings of Hotwalls Studios (once previously named the ARTches project) local creatives have been keen to find out more and to sign up for one of the studio spaces. The time has finally arrived and formal applications for Hotwalls Studios are now open!

The Hotwalls Studios is located in the unique and important heritage buildings, known collectively as Point Battery. Thirteen studios are available in total, ranging in size from 194 square feet (18 square metres) to 258 square feet (24 square metres). Hotwalls Studios can be used between 7am to 11pm, seven days a week and Portsmouth City Council expect the studios to be occupied for at least 30 hours a week during this period. You can apply to rent a whole studio or to share with another person/business.

Portsmouth City Council have produced a studio application pack which contains detailed information about the studios, including rents and terms, to request a pack get in touch with PCC by emailing:

The deadline for applications is the 25th March 2016, so get involved!

Hotwalls Studios is due to open mid-summer this year, we’re really looking forward to seeing this fantastic new creative hub in the city.

ARTches Proposal Consultation (3)

New Film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ – Interview With David Jones

You might remember the name David Jones from the Creating Balance project, David is a highly skilled and experienced underwater photographer & filmer from Portsmouth and helped (with his team from Triton Scuba – located on Highland Road in Southsea) Strong Island place an Anglepoise lamp underwater (watch the video HERE). David has worked on numerous TV programmes and had photographs published all over the World but in recent years has been focusing on the organisation Plastic Oceans. Last week the film A Plastic Ocean was officially launched with a trailer and a series events in London including a visit to St. James Palace.

A Plastic Ocean is a new feature-length adventure documentary that brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle. In A Plastic Ocean an international team of adventurers & researchers embark on an expedition around the globe that delves into the unknown lurking beneath our seemingly pristine and remote waters. During its four-year production period, A Plastic Ocean was filmed in 20 locations around the world in beautiful and chilling detail to document the global effects of plastic pollution–and introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better.

We asked David some questions on what he has been up to with Plastic Oceans and A Plastic Ocean.

As a diver and underwater cameraman & photographer, at what point did the issue of plastic debris in the seas come to your attention?
It was brought to my attention 6 years ago by the producer, Jo Ruxton. At that time everyone was talking about this ‘floating island’ 3 times the size of Spain in the Pacific. That is not accurate, but the problem is far worse as we will explain in the film.

Is this an issue that effects the UK waters,such as around Portsmouth?
You only have to walk along the beach in Southsea to see that we are affected. Every time I organise a beach clean we pick up huge amounts of rubbish. Plastic pollution is a global problem. There is only ‘one’ ocean, they are all interconnected. Plastic thrown into a river in Indonesia may one day end up on our beaches here. It is pernicious, pervasive and persistent. The problem is that 80% of the waste that is now in our oceans is plastic and it is entering the oceans at a rate of 8 million tonnes a year. We have to do something to stop that or we will all pay a huge price in the end. We use over 300 million tonnes of plastic a year – the weight of the entire human population, and half of it we throw away after using it once – it is staggeringly wasteful and we don’t have the waste management systems to deal with it. That has to change.

A Plastic Ocean - Sri Lanka plastic bottle
Sri Lanka plastic bottle, photo by David Jones.

You are part of Plastic Oceans, how did that come about?
I worked on the BBC series called Life several years ago and one of the film crew, Mike Pitts who was actually the DOP for the film, gave my name to Jo Ruxton who was looking for media crews to work on underwater filming projects. She then told me of the plastic pollution issue and that ended up taking up most of my time for the past 6 years – with the occasional little project for Strong Island every now and then of course!

How did you get involved with the new film ‘A Plastic Ocean’?
The film is a means to an end and I suppose that I was involved with the film before I eventually became more involved with trying to change the worlds attitudes to the way we use plastic. The ultimate aim is to resolve the environmental catastrophe that is slowly unfolding. The film provide the means to tell people about the problem and the impact it is having not only on the oceans environment but also human health.

A Plastic Ocean - Sri Lanka Blue Whale dives
Sri Lanka Blue Whale dives, photo by David Jones.

A Plastic Ocean - The helicopter and the submarine support vessel
The helicopter and the submarine support vessel, photo by David Jones.

How has the film come together?
It took two years to raise enough money so that we could start filming. We managed to bring along a few major sponsors but without the support of thousands of people over the last 6 years we would not have managed this. The first major shoot was in Sri Lanka – that was where we filmed the Blue Whales. Since then we have added to the sequences, travelling to each major continent. In all I think something like 20 different location were covered. 12 months ago we were joined by Co-Producer Adam Leipzig who also worked on March of the Penguins and Dead Poets Society. He has made a huge difference to the edit and has woven the footage into an adventure documentary – he told me the other day that this could be the next ‘Inconvenient Truth’! Lets hope so.

A Plastic Ocean - Mike de Grys checking the camera
Mike de Grys checking the camera, photo by David Jones.

Were you directly involved in much of the filming? Where did you go?
Yes, I was involved with a lot of the shoots mainly as the underwater supervisor and production stills photographer. These included shoots in Sri Lanka where we filmed the Blue Whales, Canada, Fiji, Germany, Italy and the Mediterranean. I also was cameraman for some slightly less glamorous shoots around recycling plants on the Manchester ship canal, as well as Bristol and Brunel University – well you can’t be lucky all the time.

How did the launch of the film go?
It was good. Sir David Attenborough has been a long time supporter of the film and features in it, filming at his house was one of my lifetime highlights I have to admit, but he called on the day and unfortunately couldn’t make it for the launch. Hopefully he will be able to come to the first film screening. Even though he couldn’t attend there were numerous members of the press, MPs, and representatives from numerous NGOs including Greenpeace and Prince Charles conservation organisation.

A Plastic Ocean - Divers carrying waste
Divers carrying waste, photo by David Jones.

What do you have coming up in regards to Plastic Oceans and the film?
At this moment I am just really glad we are nearly there – it has been a long hard journey. The film is in picture lock and is currently being colour graded in LA. Obviously the main emphasis at the moment is trying to get as many people as possible to watch the trailer. We are now looking for a distribution deal as the film was made for cinema and if the trailer has a couple of million views that will help. And then of course there is the first screening. The film has also been submitted to some film festivals so that will take a bit of work. Apart from that I am trying to squeeze in my day job when I can!

David Jones

David Jones.

Since the films launch last week it has been covered in national newspapers, shared by people like Julian Lennon and Chevy Chase, with the trailer getting at one point over 200 views per minute. A Plastic Ocean will be out later this year and is currently seeking worldwide distribution.

You can view the film trailer below and find out more about the film on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and at:

A Plastic Ocean

The Fourth Annual St Valentines Day Massacre

Annual St Valentines Day Massacre returns for its fourth outing on February 12th.

A collection of local bands will serenade you with their renditions of popular love songs. Each band will get 15 minutes to take your breath away and will include the likes of Battery Hens, Kelly Kemp and The Vipers, Noyo Mathis, The Drainz, The Stayawakes, Lovestorm and Smokey & The Bandits. Three of the above bands have been assembled specifically for the massacre.

Music choices range from the good, the bad and the ugly and draw from the last 60 years of pop music. Expect tales of lust, love and heartbreak performed to varying degrees of success as the band’s step outside their comfort zones in the name of love and charity.

As in previous years the event supports Youth Music and all of the money raised from the night will go towards musical equipment and education for those who may otherwise not have access to it. Over £500 was raised last year and event organisers hope to top that this year!

As with previous a raffle will be held on the night with some exceptional prizes up for grabs including the following:

* Two Saturday tickets to Victorious Festival.
* Two tickets to a film of your choosing at No.6 Cinema.
* Four £15 meal vouchers for Feed.
* Two pie and mash vouchers and T-Shirt rom Pie and Vinyl.
* £20 meal voucher for Le Cafe Parisien.
* £10 voucher for Wylde and Thyme.
* T-Shirt from Strong Island.
* Wedgewood Rooms Comedy tickets and
* Two Dials Festival tickets (one day festival at the Wedgewood rooms)

The event takes place at the Edge of the Wedge and will be transformed into a romantic love shack for the night. Doors will open at 7pm and music will start imminently. Entry is £5 and as mentioned all proceeds go to charity. Once the bands have finished, The Wolf Cub Club DJs will play until early hours.

For updates see the Facebook event page. Catch you there guys!

Valentines Day Massacre

Valentines Day Massacre

Valentines Day massacre
Photography by Joe Watson

Eastney Beach Clean Success

This weekend locals gathered on Eastney Beach in a community spirited effort to keep our coastline tidy and our ocean safe. Coffee Cup in Eastney was the meeting point and people lined up outside on Saturday morning to get ready to walk the beach and the turnout was phenomenal.

The event was organised by Southsea Beachwatch who hold regular clean ups and surveys in association with MCS (Marine Conservation Society).

The weather was against us with high winds and patchy rain although everyone involved didn’t let that stop them and were out in full force armed with bags and litter pickers.

It is great to see so many people actively wanting to keep the local environment cleaner and safer and a real demonstration of how much we all care about our seaside city. Well done to you all and remember guys if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem. Keep Southsea clean.

For upcoming events follow Southsea Beachwatch on Twitter @Southsea_Beach or on Facebook.

Beach clean

Beach clean

Beach Clean

Beach clean

Beach clean

Icebreaker Festival UK 2016

Usually sometime after Christmas and as we start to head into Spring, that well-known festival feeling starts to kick in. This is when I can mostly be found impatiently waiting for line-up announcements, daydreaming of wellies and ponchos, and meticulously planning just how many festivals I’ll be squeezing in this year.

Luckily for us on the South Coast, Portsmouth have introduced Icebreaker Festival, a very aptly named winter festival which has quickly grown into a fantastic indoor music event to tide you over in the cold months whilst you wait it out for “outside” festival season.

This year Icebreaker fell during Independent Venue Week – and what a great way to celebrate all the brilliant independent music venues we have on our doorstep in Southsea. From the Wedgewood Rooms at one end of Albert Road right the way up to The Honest Politician on Elm Grove, there were over 100 bands playing across ten venues so there was definitely something for everyone.

Icebreaker Festival focuses on bringing new and up and coming talent together and the best part is not recognising all of the bands on the line-up. This year we managed to stumble upon some amazing musicians that we’d never heard of before, as well as catching a couple of old favourites.

The first port of call was The Loft to grab our wristbands and the first beer of the day, and watch the five-piece rock band, We Capture Kings. This group were full of energy and gave a great performance to kick start our afternoon.

Next stop was Little Johnny Russells to catch last minute addition to the line-up, The Bayonettes. A powerful guitar driven indie-rock band, with an unstoppable rhythm section and edgy vocals. This band have a heavyweight modern sound, a hint of 90s Britpop and one hell of an enthusiastic drummer! As a long term fan, it was great for me to see them live again.

The Bayonettes 1 by Jonny Bell Photography
The Bayonettes by Jonny Bell Photography
The Bayonettes by Jonny Bell Photography
The Bayonettes by Jonny Bell Photography

After a while it was time to head to The Wedge for something a little heavier, which came in the form of three-piece metal band, Hummune (Immune to humans). This band have been around for seven years and kicked off 2016 with a very loud set which we really enjoyed headbanging along to.

Other highlights from the day included acoustic trio Villiers, and self-described ‘pessimistic music for optimists’ band, Battery Hens, both performing at The One Eyed Dog. We also heard great things about Kill ‘Em Dead Cowboy, metal band Belligerence, and The Aviators – just a shame we couldn’t see everyone! Not to forget the awesome silent disco to end the night’s festivities.

You’d be really hard pushed to find a live event featuring this much musical talent anywhere else at this time of year, so Icebreaker Festival has definitely become an unmissable addition to our ever-growing music scene here in Southsea. With brilliant musicians of all genres and a great range of venues to choose from – it wasn’t a bad way to spend a chilly Saturday this winter.

If you would like to stay up to date with all things Icebreaker 2017 then go and give them a follow on Facebook and Twitter @IcebreakerUK.

Hummune by Jonny Bell Photography
Hummune by Jonny Bell Photography
Melt Dunes by Jonny Bell Photography
Melt Dunes by Jonny Bell Photography
Icebreaker Festival by Chantelle Wyatt
Kill’em Dead Cowboy by Chantelle Wyatt
Icebreaker Festival by Chantelle Wyatt
Kill’ em Dead Cowboy by Chantelle Wyatt
Silent Disco by Jonny Bell Photography
Silent Disco by Jonny Bell Photography

Next »


Local Photographer – Paul Gordon

Local photographer Paul Gordon has spent a lot of time hanging out and photographing the local skaters over the summer, both in the skatepark and out and about. The photos from the summer are now up in galleries on Paul’s website As well as the skating photos there are also loads of other galleries too including sport, portraiture, landscape, etc. Have a flick through.




Vintage Photos

Adam Wintle recently uploaded to his blog loads of photos from an old book about Portsmouth passed down to him by his dad. Some of the photos in the book are incredible, be sure to spend some time having a good look through, below are a few examples:

Local Photographer – Rich Heath

I always search Southsea on Flickr at least once a week to see what sort of askew views people take on this fair town. Rich Heaths photographs stopped me dead in my tracks scrolling through pages when I saw his sunrise photographs. Simply awesome. Check out Rich’s Flickr Photostream for more photos and head over to his website Hampshire Light to buy prints.

The photograph below was chosen for the front page of The NEWS to accompany an article on the planned redevelopment of the sea front. I couldn’t find the article, but if anyone has a link post it up in the comments for all to see.


Bike Ride Panoramics

We will have loads of photos and stories from Sunday’s hugely successful Strong Island Bike Ride and to get started we have some huge panoramics taken by George Crick. Sadly we can only show some of the small versions here that do not do them justice so be sure to visit George’s website to see the all of the photos in full size, and spot yourselves in there!

George’s panoramics will be available to buy in Wallspace Gallery in Albert Road from Saturday for a bargain price of just £35.

Vintage Photography – Sunny Southsea

Big thanks to Khalid who sent over these vintage photographs scanned from The Images of Portsmouth (1993). We have a small selection so I’ll put one page up each week.

Love this first shot of the band stand on the common in the 1920s showing how the site was originally used before the Skatepark was built around it in the 70s. So many deckchairs, it must have been big business back then. It’s a shame they didn’t keep the bandstand as it was with the little steps and iron railing. It’s a little different NOW as Marcus’s ariel shot shows. Click the image to see the high res scan up close.

Guildhall After WWII

On 10th January 1941 during a heavy bombing attack on Portsmouth the Guildhall was hit by several incendiary bombs which heavily damaged the structure and the resulting fires quickly spread throughout the whole building, turning it in to just a shell. It took almost 15 years to rebuild the Guildhall in to what we have today, which was officially reopened by the Queen on the 8th June 1959. This photo from Stan Webb from a collection of photos collected by Portsmouth College shows how totally destroyed the building was, leaving just some of the frontage and most of the tower.


Strong Island Easter Bike Ride Video II

Sharpie just sent me over his edit from the Bike Ride last April 4th. He attached one of those fancy Flip Cameras onto his handlebars and he was away. Really cool to be able to see the ride from different perspectives. Cheers buddy.

Southsea Rock Gardens circa 1985

More random finds. It’s a shame to say I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Rock gardens looking this nice. Not sure how often upkeep fits into the Council agenda these days. Back in 1985 however it looks amazing. Click the photo for a bigger view.

Photo : Dom Walton

Vintage Skatepark Photographs

I’ve been holding on to these truly amazing vintage photographs that Simon Tiller kindly sent in as we went through a pretty heavy skateboard period and thought we should chill back a little. Loving the roller hockey team photos too. The 1978 trophies photo is a epic and they were British Champions in 1973 too. Belated congratulations to you all.

This is just a small picking from the Southsea Skatepark website Check them out and if you see anyone you recognise or want to bring something to our attention then remember to add your comments at the bottom of this post.

Special props to the final photo and all the Southsea boys representing ‘back in the day’. Some young looking faces there. Rippers.

Strong Island Easter Bike Ride Video

The guys over at have put together a nice little edit from the Bike Ride on April 4th. It really shows the vibe of the day well. Good times. I better get on the phone and book the Police escort for August.

Strong Island Clothing Co.