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.
Goes without saying that at the high of the 1980s skateboarding boom Southsea Skatepark was one of the key places to skate, party, see skate tours and much more. At the time some 80s skateboarding pros called Southsea and the skatepark home (Gary Lee, Mark & Barry Abrook) and with so many visiting skaters from all over the world coming to legendary competitions the park was well and truly on the map internationally too. Photos to this day appear on blogs and Instagram from the Bones Brigade demos, Zorlac, Ben Schroeder and so many names burnt in to skateboarding history.
UK photographer Paul Duffy and long time UK skater Mark ‘Trawler’ Lawler have come together this year to create a new book that for the first time tries to capture raw skateboarding across the UK and Europe in the 1980s. ‘Sk8-80s’ is 212 pages of A4 full bleed rawness and is being self-published with it just this week now up for pre-order. The cover itself features Scottish skater Davie Phillip with a layback smith in the ‘new’ pool at Southsea Skatepark and the sneak peeks so far see the late USA skater Steve Schneer at the Shut Up and Skate comp on Southsea vert ramp. In a nice indirect way the other sneak peek spread sees Hugh ‘Bod’ Boyle on the Swansea vert ramp which just happened to have Southsea’s Claire Sambrook on the platform shooting photos at the time.
Another nice connection, Paul Duffy submitted the photo of the Southsea guys bombing the Tricorn carpark ramp to our Tricorn project last year…hoping that is in the book too.
You can find out more about the book on Facebook HERE and you can now pre-order the book for £21.99 at the link below:
Throughout the running of the current exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum people get to choose their favourite items from the Portsmouth City Collection that are on show in A Hard Choice (you can see and read our preview of the exhibition HERE). Every month different items chosen by many visitors are given rosettes showing the current favourites. Strong Island, working with the Portsmouth Museums and Visitor Services (with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund), are asking over a dozen different people from around Portsmouth what their personal favourite items are in the exhibition and why.
To kick off this series of articles we met up with Mark Waldron, editor of The News, at Portsmouth City Museum and after a walk around he let us know what were his own Best in Show.
Hi Mark, what, in no particular order, are your three favourite items in the A Hard Choice exhibition?
The first object is a dead mole, a bit of a bizarre one to start with. I think a lot of people when they are younger they find dead animals and insects and your immediate thoughts are to pick it up, put it in a box and preserve it. A dead mole Rosalinda* found when she was 4 years old started off her fascination with conservation and got her in to curating. I just love that this mole is so different to everything else in the exhibition, there are a lot of historic parts to the exhibition but this tiny mole preserved from way back when is an incredible artefact that leapt out at me and caught my curiosity.
Next are the visiting cards from a certain Mr & Mrs Charles Dickens, it is the cards that they had when living in Tavistock House in London, which they occupied between 1851 and 1860. They are the actual cards they would have given out to guests at the time.
I think we celebrate and are proud of our links with Dickens and I think these really take you back to this man who is so pressed in to all our memories even 200 years later. These cards would have been in his wallet, in his pocket, and he would have been handing them out to the important guests that would have come to see him. The fact that they are preserved in this collection really adds to what Dickens is all about and what he means to this city.
This item is labelled Hippodrome Bomb and it is a bomb that fell in Portsmouth in 1941 but lay undiscovered until 1984 when there was work taking place at the Hippodrome Theatre in Guildhall Walk**. Some interesting ceramic tiles were found but suddenly everyone was evacuated because also found was this large unexploded bomb. Royal Engineers had to come in and did a controlled explosion and the remains of the bomb were donated to the collection.
So much of Portsmouth’s landscape changed during the war, obviously the city was a target of heavy German bombing. The Guildhall was destroyed and many parts of Portsmouth were changed forever. Just to see here as you walk in to the exhibition this massive bit of ordinance, the fact that it didn’t go off but you look at the size of it…what damage that would have caused…it is just an incredible reminder of what is a massive part of the history of our city.
If you could donate something from your own personal collection(s) or something else in the city or relates to the city…what would be good to add to the Portsmouth City Collection for future generations?
Growing up I was very heavily in to music and a place to be for a lot of touring bands at the time was the Guildhall. Most of the bands from the 80s would come down and I saw many great concerts down there like New Order, The Cure, The Jam, Depeche Mode…a lot of great nights out. We would get the bus from Cowplain, over Portsdown Hill in to the big city so it was always a big night out. I just remember being packed in to many concerts seeing the great bands at the time. So the tickets from those occasions, which bring back fantastic memories of growing up in a great city.
* Rosalinda Hardiman, who curated the A Hard Choice exhibition.
** The building was destroyed during the Portsmouth Blitz.
Don’t forget you can visit A Hard Choice exhibition and the rest of Portsmouth City Museum and other museums in the city for free the Easter and beyond. You can find out more about the museums and what activities are taking place at:
Democracy Street is a national interactive digital arts project designed to get broad public engagement and to encourage people to think about the role and importance democracy plays in our lives. Portsmouth based artist Jon Adams has been creating the project in collaboration with Si digital, who have developed a mobile application and accompanying website that everyone in the UK can use to find out about the history of our democracy and how it is hidden all around us in the names of our streets.
Drawing upon data from partners that include the National Portrait Gallery, The National Archives, History of Parliament Trust, and the Houses of Parliament themselves, it’s no coincidence that the project is released during a general election year – and is part of Parliament’s 2015 celebrations, centred on the 800 year anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta.
Democracy Street is a national collaborative arts project commissioned by the Speaker’s Art Fund and Arts Council England. Use the collaborative mobile app to help develop an Interactive Map to highlight the importance democracy plays in our lives.
The app is truly interactive, people can upload photos and go on journeys of discovery that will be validated by the award of Digital Badges representative of different stages of your engagement and learning within the project. The content of the interactive map will then form the basis of further artwork to be generated by Jon, and displayed in a series of exhibitions across the UK running from November 2015.
The mobile app and website go live to the general public at a launch event hosted by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, at the Houses of Parliament on March 26th. However, though the project is national, this is truly a Portsmouth based development drawing upon local talent to make it a reality.
Development Manager Joseph Cavalla has worked with Jon since the project’s inception, and together with Fratton Big Local they have engaged My Dog Sighs to run two Democracy Street themed ‘Free Art Friday’s’ taking place at Make and The Craft Kitchen in Fratton on March 12th and 13th. Head over to the Make website for more details and to book a place on one of the workshops, where you can beta test the app, contribute to the artwork, and get a preview of things to come on this incredible project.
You can find out more about Democracy Street on the website:
Collecting is something that goes way back to the early edges of the modern human psychology, a motivation to draw objects together that have a sense of meaning for the collector, that can illustrate aspects of an identity through representations of places and times past. Pretty much everyone has succumbed to the urge to collect at some stage in their life, be it stamps, stickers, shells, postcards, geology, fine art, sculpture and even aeroplane sick bags and My Little Pony. Beyond individuals, other groups create collections too, from small groups and trusts through to councils and right up to nation states. Portsmouth, like many other cities all over the UK and the World has its own collection of objects that represent its past, its culture and the people who have called it home.
The Portsmouth Collection began with the foundation of the Portsmouth museum service, established by order of the council back in 1892. The Victorians had a strong tradition of philanthropy which allowed the collection to grow from inception with people donating objects and art, the collection in essence owned by the then town (we became a city in 1927) and its people.
The collection was homed at The Market House & Guildhall on High Street in what is now Old Portsmouth, designed by Benjamin Bramble and opened on June 28th 1838. The building was the civic centre with council chambers plus an open market and even an early police station too. The building quickly ran out of space for city officials so the new Guildhall in Guildhall Square was opened in 1879. With this move the building became the city’s museum and home to the collection.
Market House and Guildhall by Calcott, published by Charpentier.
During the blitz in 1941, the city suffered with a huge loss of life and much of the city damaged and broken. On one air raid on the city the museum was bombed, with much of the city collection destroyed. Around 750 objects were saved from the destruction but it is impossible to know how much of the collection was lost as well as what these objects were specifically because all records were destroyed too. Only a handful of paintings were saved and some still show signs of burn damage. These objects that survived (to this day cataloged with ’S’ numbers to signify salvage) were the basis for a new museum service in 1945 with the end of the war.
Market House and Guildhall after the bombing.
From 1945 the museum service looked to acquire material relating to the history of Portsmouth and the natural history of the local area but also aimed to collect decorative art and modern British art. Under the theme of ‘The History of British Taste’ a national appeal was launched for donations to the collection from both individuals and organisations.
‘Outskirts of Portsmouth Dockyard’ charcoal drawing by W.H. Clarkson.
The Portsmouth City Collection 70 years later is now both vast in size and scope. The collection contains archaeology, art, literary history, local history, military history and natural science with many of the objects donated or bequeathed to the city. The collection can be viewed at the city’s different museums including: Portsmouth City Museum, Charles Dickens’ Birthplace, The D-Day Museum, Southsea Castle, Cumberland House Natural History Museum & Eastney Beam Engine House. Even with all of these museums and exhibition spaces no more than approximately 15% of the City Collection is on display at any one time.
With our next article we’ll be exploring the role of a curator for the museum service. If you want to see some of the finest items on the collection be sure to visit the A Hard Choice exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum. Many items on show in this exhibition were acquired by Rosalinda Hardiman over the last 35 years during her curatorship.
This Sunday there is a free guided tour around the exhibition by Rosalinda from 3pm to 4pm. Find out about some of the stories behind the objects on show and Rosalinda’s reasons for choosing them. Pre-booking is advised.
Throughout this year you can find out more about the Portsmouth City Collection and the many works of art and objects in contains with a Twitter account, simply follow: @PortsCityCollec
‘Portsmouth Harbour’ by Edmund T. Crawford.
‘Combat’ by Jack Canty.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is home to some of the finest historic ships in the UK, with HMS Victory, HMS Warrior & The Mary Rose all iconic and tourist attractions helping bring in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city. Soon to join this elite flotilla of ships is the HMS M.33, dry docked opposite the Victory and currently undergoing a huge refit inside and out ready for opening to the public in August. The M.33, a Monitor gun platform, was built in only 7 weeks specifically for ship to shore bombardment with it’s two heavy 6 inch guns. The shallow draft with it’s flat bottom design meant it could come close to the shoreline. The ship is one of a handful of Royal Navy craft left from WW1 and the only craft from the Gallipoli campaign, which occurred 100 years ago this year.
The redevelopment of the ship is restoring and redeveloping it from the bare metal up. The craft (and the dry dock) will welcome visitors in through new access points with the lower decks converted in to exhibition spaces. Working upwards the on deck cabins will be restored with the feel of a ship from 1915. The guns are also being lovingly restored by dedicated volunteers too.
Even with all this activity and work ongoing on the ship the National Museum of the Royal Navy is hoping to raise £19,150 to help finish the £2.4m project. The funding is being done through crowdfunding website Indigogo which is an innovative route for sourcing donations for the project for a ship of this type. You can watch the film below for all the details on how any donation will go towards creating another unique visitor experience celebrating the city and the nations nautical heritage.
I visited the ship to see progress in person on a rainy February day, the ship will be up there with its dockyard neighbours and not only that, you’ll also get to actually be in the scheduled monument dry dock too to see the ship from a completely new perspective. You can find out lots more about the project and make a donation before 18th March at:
Below are a selection of images from the visit to HMS M.33, you can see many more on our Flickr.
Tomorrow sees the opening of A Hard Choice exhibition at Portsmouth City Museum, this year’s main exhibition for the city’s museum service. The exhibition has been personally curated by Rosalinda Hardiman, the inspirational museum collections manager, and draws on her many years of expertise as a curator and her detailed knowledge of the Portsmouth City Collection.
The exhibition features around 120 favourite objects from all the different aspects of the city collection and range from an 800-year-old cosmetic jar to a Second World War bomb found in Guildhall Walk. Other items are a mirror believed to have been owned by royal mistress Lily Langtry, seaside postcards, and a Turner painting of Portsmouth Harbour. Other treasures include visiting cards used by Mr and Mrs Charles Dickens, and works by Stanley Spencer, Walter Sickert and Jacob Epstein.
The 250kg bomb, from 1941, was discovered in Guildhall Walk in 1984. Rosalinda, hoping to retrieve tiles from a building site, clambered over it without knowing it was there. It was later safely detonated.
Items from Rosalinda’s fascinating life will also be on display – including medals and mementoes from her days as a top international swimmer. She competed in the Atlanta and Sydney Paralympic Games, took five world records and swam the Channel.
Rosalinda, who has been with Portsmouth City Council’s museums service for 35 years, said: “If you count every insect in our natural history cabinets and all the prehistoric pieces of flint in the archaeology collection, then we have half a million objects. It’s a mammoth task looking after all those items – and yes, we have parts of mammoths too. I’m so enthusiastic about our collections and wanted to share my sheer joy in being able to work with such inspiring things. As well as the ‘official’ information about the objects I wanted to reveal some of the personal stories attached to them.”
The exhibition opens tomorrow from 10am and will run through to September, with many different activities, events, talks and more happening over the coming weeks and months.
Photo from a photo shoot Strong Island had with Rosalinda in her incredible office at Portsmouth City Museum.
Back in 2013 Britain’s pre-eminent research library The British Library placed over one million images from it’s collection on to Flickr, available to all to view online via it’s own Flickr account. The images made available by the British Library come from books published between the 17th and 19th centuries and include the illustrations plus all decorative artwork within the books. These images are not just free to browse but are also copyright free, which means we can share them here and it means you can download them for use such as inspiration for your own artwork, etc. The source books are also available both in the library and online via a PDF. The online collection does not include what many might define as the ‘masters’ of the collection, but this online resource is a vast collection of imagery spanning two decades of literature.
As a brief dip in to this collection, I’ve picked “Hearts of Oak. A story of Nelson and the Navy” by Gordon Stables, published by Shaw and Co. in 1893. You can view the details of the book on the British Library’s website HERE. The UIN for the book is BLL01003471521 and if you strip the first five prefix codes, replace with ‘sysnum’ and search within the British Library account on Flickr (using ‘sysnum003471521′) you’ll find all of the images from within the book. These images include detailed illustrations of Nelson, the title plate and even the small illustrative designs set within the publication. Some of the images from the book are shown below. You can also search by keywords such as ‘Nelson’ that will bring up not just the images from this particular book but from many others too.
If you are at a creative loose end this Monday lunchtime, you can get exploring for free right away at:
A little late on this one, but make sure you tune into BBC4 at 9PM this evening for “The Mary Rose: A Timewatch Guide”, filmed in Portsmouth with Dan Snow last summer.
Radio Times says the following: “Historian Dan Snow explores the discovery, excavation and raising of the iconic ship, finding out what the latest research has revealed about the vessel and her crew. The presenter also investigates how the project helped create modern underwater archaeology, and examines the techniques, challenges and successes of the divers and archaeologists involved.” The documentary also features long term Mary Rose Trust members Alex Hildred (Curator of Ordnance at the Trust) and Chris Dobbs (Head of Interpretation). Both having been part of the original excavation and raising team. This seriously recommended viewing.