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We are always keen to hear from our readers, be it facts, fiction, art, photos, film, music and absolutely everything else in-between, we would love to know about it.

So if you have something that you think would make an interesting article or simply just want to say hello then drop us a line at: contact@strong-island.co.uk.

Or individually at:

paul@strong-island.co.uk
tristan@strong-island.co.uk
stuart@strong-island.co.uk

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Features

Strong Island Calendar 2016 #SIC2016

Yet again we were overwhelmed with the interest and success of our 2015 Calendar. I hope that you are all enjoying them and it is inspiring you to get involved and submitting your photo’s for inclusion for next years calendar.

We are excited to announce that we are taking submissions for our 2016 calendar. If you’ve taken a photo that you’d like to submit then you can email your submission via calendar@strong-island.co.uk. If you’ve taken a photo on Instagram that you’d like to submit for consideration you just need add the hashtag #SIC2016.

There are no limits to how many you submit, the only rule is that the image must be relevant to Portsmouth. We would love to see more submissions from all over Portsmouth not just our favourite Southsea landmarks so please share this with friends who you think might be interested in getting involved.

Along with Instagram we also recommend you check out the Faded App. I’ve had a play with this App and you can create images that surpass anything that Instagram can produce. I especially love the overlay function.

We have a couple of our 2015 Calendars left but if you are interested then get in quick as these are likely to go within the next week or so! You can get your copies from the Strong Island shop HERE.

Strong Island Calendar 2016

The Strong Island Photo of the Year Competition 2015

Throughout 2013 we ran a photography competition open to everyone where each week a photo selected from the weekly submissions was chosen as the Strong Island Facebook header image and placed on our Facebook page for a week. We had some incredible images from all over the city, from landmarks such as South Parade Pier to the Spinnaker Tower, to the stormy waves of the sea, the Warrior at night…so many incredible photos we were privileged to share. At the end of the year we asked you, the Strong Islanders, to pick your favourite from all the weekly winning images, and by tallying up all the Facebook likes the winner of the Strong Island Photo of the Year was the below photo of South Parade Pier by Catherine Taylor. Many of the the photos that came in were also submitted to our very successful Strong Island Calendar for 2014 too.

This year we’re running the Strong Island Photo of the Year competition, and again welcome any submissions sent to us in a variety of easy ways. The first is to email the photo to us at contact@strong-island.co.uk. Just include your name, the photo submissions, link to your website/Flickr/etc and let us know if you would like them also submitted to the calendar too. You can also submit images on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #SIPhotoComp2015 and we’ll keep an eye on any photos added. You can also tag us in to those tweets and photos too but be sure to use the hashtag so we know you’re entering them. The photos can be of anything, anywhere, as long as it is within the city. You can enter as many images as you like each week and they don’t have to have been taken that week they are submitted. By submitting the photos you’re giving us permission to share them (obviously) but we’ll only share them in relation to this competiton and we’ll ensure we credit you and link back to your website, Flickr, etc. Make sure you only submit photos you yourself took and have creative ownership/copyright of.

Each Friday we’ll post up our weekly winner on Facebook as our Facebook Header and also post up on Strong Island a selection of images we really liked from that week too. Each week the winner will win some Strong Island goodies. In December the final overall winner from all the weekly winners, after all your votes, will win a big pile of Strong Island goodness including a mug, tees, prints, etc and the image crowned Strong Island Photo of the Year 2015! Not just that, we’re also have an exhibition in Strong Island Co at the end of the year/start of 2016 of the best submitted images and the winning image.

You can start submitting your photos right now!

South Parade Pier by Catherine Taylor
South Parade Pier by Catherine Taylor, winner in 2013.

A Hard Choice – Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News

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.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (2)

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (3)

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.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (4)

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.

A Hard Choice - Best in Show With Mark Waldron, Editor of The News (1)

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:

www.portsmouthcitymuseums.co.uk

Short Story Competition – Deadline Extended

We are really excited to announce that we have extended the deadline for you to submit your entry to our short story competition. The theme behind your short story must simply involve one of My Dog Sighs tin can men pictured at the bottom of the page. There is a word limit for each age group but apart from that, everything else is completely open to your own interpretation.

The entries will be split into three categories for the different age groups, each with a different word limit.

• 13 years and under (150 words)
• 14 years – 18 years (300 words)
• 18 years and above (500 words)

This event is open to everyone to enter and you don’t even have to be from Portsmouth to get involved. For the younger age groups we are looking for teachers who would be willing to lend a hand. This will involve going through some entries and maybe they would like to invite their school or class to get involved, maybe as part of a class project perhaps.

This competition will now run until Sunday 12th April, with the winner for each category being announced soon after. The three lucky winners will receive a copy of their story created by graphic designer Sam Barclay and personalised by My Dog himself. The winning entries will also be featured in an exhibition in our Strong Island Co shop which you can find at 12 Highland Road, Southsea.

If you or your are interested in getting involved with helping judge the winner you can drop me can email to stuart@strong-island.co.uk. Submissions should be sent to the same email address, please don’t forget to include your contact details and what category this is applicable to.

My Dog Sighs has a great talent for capturing character through the expressions on each piece of art, which should serve as an ideal inspiration for your short story. We look forward to receiving your submissions.

My Dog Sighs TCM 1

My Dog Sighs TCM 2

My Dog Sighs TCM 3

My Dog Sighs TCM 5

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Portsmouth City Collection Part 1: Lost and Found

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
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
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
‘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
‘Portsmouth Harbour’ by Edmund T. Crawford.

Combat by Jack Canty
‘Combat’ by Jack Canty.

HMS M.33 Crowdfunding Appeal

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:

indiegogo.com/projects/hms-m-33

Below are a selection of images from the visit to HMS M.33, you can see many more on our Flickr.




















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