It’s always great to see folks wearing our gear, so it was a nice surprise to see Civilisation Of the Rough‘s DJ Steve Laming representing Strong Island and COR at the Electric Elephant Festival in Croatia last weekend.
This evening the team at Pie & Vinyl will be taking over the Cellars at Eastney along with DZ Deathrays, Rickyfitts & You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons.
As well as the awesome music you can treat yourself to P&V hot pies and delicious gluten – free vegan nibbles from Sweetie Pie, throughout the evening in the cozy Cellars courtyard garden.
Doors open at 7.30pm with tickets costing £5 are available from Southsea’s Pie and Vinyl & The Cellars at Eastney.
The Australian thrash pop duo DZ Deathrays hail from Brisbane and are visiting our Southcoast in preparation for their second album release Black Rat penciled in for UK release on August 18th (Of course we will be stocking it) and a bunch of festival appearances this summer…
Also in support are brothers a href=”https://www.facebook.com/rickyfittsband?fref=ts”>Rickyfitts, fresh off the back of their E.P. Release and the infamous You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons, who release their new album ‘Contact High’ this Monday 23rd.
Not too much is known about Big Child Man Child but you can stay up to date on all things Big Child Man Child on Facebook and on Twitter @bcmcmusic. Fingers crossed that we get the chance to see Matt Jarvis and co play live very soon!
Philip Jackson the world renowned sculptor who brought the famous Falklands war memorial statue, The Yomper, to Southsea will return with an exhibition to be held at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral.
Philip has a worldwide reputation for his public commissions, which include high-profile works such as Queen Elizabeth on the Mall, Bobby Moore at Wembley Stadium and, of course, the Bomber Command Memorial in London’s Green Park. His gallery work is emotive, thought- provoking and inspires awed admiration and it is these sculptures which will form the centrepiece of his breath taking show.
This show opens from Saturday 19th July – Fri 01st August 2014 at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral. Suggested donation of £5 on the door with all the proceeds coming to The Rowans Hospice.
For more information please call 023 9223 7146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last years Head Jam was such a resounding success with some of the nations best street artists that we eagerly began talking about the following year before the paint had even dried. We discussed how we could run the event again and where to do it, but the answer was simple and literally looking right at us. We hold it in the same place again. Make the courtyard at Head Hairdressing the centre of an annual event where the outcome is available to view for the year, then return, white wash the previous artwork away, and do it all again. After all, street art is an ever changing and developing media in it’s own right and in it’s usual environment where it gets ripped down, tagged, covered in fly posters, lost to demolition and built on, the artists have no fear of their art being lost. It’s part of the job so to speak…
Rick from Head Hairdressing at 53 Albert Road (just along from the Wine Vaults and next to Southsea Gallery) conceived the idea of having the courtyard to the rear of the local barbers transformed in to a permanent giant art piece. From precision multilayered stencils, through bubble gum cutsie to surreal illustrative mayhem, Lex Luthor and My Dog Sighs have hand picked some of their favourite artists to produce the ultimate street art dreamscape courtyard…again!
Head Jam will run all day so feel free to pop along, take a look, have a chat, hang out, meet the artists and enjoy the atmosphere. There will be music on all day, a BBQ turning over in the background if you want to stick a burger on (not supplied), and please feel free to bring along a beer too. Everyone is welcome, so bring the kids so they can see some of the finest street artists working together in this unique environment.
Attending artists include: MyDogSighs, Lex Luthor, Mimic, Fark, Nova, M-one Art, Los Dave, Stu Linfield, Morf, Freakstatic and Ooberla. Wow, this is going to be amazing! If you pop along please be sure to tag the event on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #HeadJam and we will put up a series of your photos from the day.
Strong Island Clothing Co will also be launching their latest range of tees and crews before they go online the following week. So if you want to get in there for an exclusive purchase before anyone else head on down and check it all out. Everything will be out to view, and there is a sneak peak at the end of this post (the full look book will go up this week). Also all of our PFC tees and crews are on offer, bargain. We look forward to seeing you all.
Photos: Matt Maber
Despite the effects of the night before, those who have arisen from their partially soggy tents and dared to walk through alcohol and rain sodden hay look forward to listen to live music at The Wild Stage and in The Hustle Den at midday. In keeping with the wildlife theme the crowd was littered with all sorts of animal themed costumes, and what I can only expect was a stag party of monkey’s.
Burning Beaches took to the stage at 12:00pm in The Hustle Den, where sleepy eyes were literally opened in awe of the band’s soft rock sound. Heavy bass woke even the most sluggish and grungy vocals perfectly complimented a latte. The vocals echoed around the tent, emphasising the roughness and fervency.
Blissfields is without a doubt well-deserved of it’s reputation for finding and nurturing local artists and upcoming talent, and this year was no exception; Saturday brought with it the chance for discovering yet more new artists, one of which being Australian singer-songwriter Ry X. His hazy almost whispered vocals drew comparisons to The xx and Blissfields favourites London Grammar, and Ry X transfixed the audience throughout his set with his soft tenor tones. His track ‘Berlin’ is well worth a listen.
Later on in the afternoon, Floella Grace wowed her audience in The Larch to complete silence and a dream-like-state. Her dreamy, sobering vocals accompanied by fellow string player Gareth and two silvery-voiced backing singers made for an awesome and enlightening performance. The ukulele was played sweetly and harmoniously with the slightly more robust guitar; the entire performance being one of sincerity courtesy of her unvarnished, honest lyrics.
After Floella Grace’s soothing and lulling performance, the audience was re-awakened with the The Boy I Used To Be’s garage pop sound. With breathy, low vocals and slightly metallic guitar riffs, the band’s ‘sun-drenched’ sound ironically complimented the gloomy Great British Weather.
A personal highlight of Saturday was the chance to catch Laurel in the Hustle Den; she has truly developed her own distinctive style, although it is easy to see why over the last year she has been compared to Lana Del Ray, Lorde, and Laura Marling. On stage, she mesmerises the crowd with her sultry and coquettish presence, and switches effortlessly between softer and louder tracks, such as the lead song from her Blue Blood EP, which showcases the depth and richness of her voice.
By now sky was taken over with cloud but with temperatures still high anticipation grew for the headliner, 2ManyDJs, the semi-incognito side project of prolific 90s DJs Soulwax. The Dewaele brothers’ experience was evident throughout their set, with their ability to bring the crowd effortlessly through highs and lows, and build the sweat and alcohol fuelled festival-goers into a frenzy. However, while there were certainly some sore heads as Sunday morning dawned, there were plenty of wide grins too.
Southsea Fest have announced the latest and final line up to the already marvellous bill which already includes the likes of Laurel, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Mazes, Blessa, Menace Beach, Kagoule, Eliza & The Bear and many more including local favourites Rickyfitts and Kassassin Street. The one day, multi-venue urban festival spanning across the intimate setting of Albert Road has pulled absolutely no punches with its latest additions and it looks set to be the biggest and best Southsea Fest yet.
Headlining the Wedge is gnarly hardcore punk, Leeds exports, Pulled Apart by Horses regarded by many as one of the best live acts today with their twisted, amp melting, gut busting ferocious sets. Their last Southsea Fest outing, for those fortunate to catch them was regarded as stuff of legend and with them playing the Wedge this year you’re four times more likely to be able to get a glimpse of their carnage. Along with Pulled Apart By Horses, Brisbane duo DZ Deathrays head back to Southsea and will deliver a face-melting, riot like set of thrash ridden pop. Another huge coup for Southsea Fest and headlining the Kings Theatre is established singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt who shall be a perfect fit for the glorious, Edwardian setting. Also on the bill confirmed is Fat Cat Record’s Glaswegian duo Honeyblood who deliver, scuzzy, grunge tinged, indie pop. Bringing the doom psychedelia and stoner rock is GANG, the latest signings to Strong Island Recordings who are ready to inflict a sonic assault upon senses with ear pounding riffs and gnarling, wailing vocals. Heading back to Southsea Fest is the splendid Talons who create intense and epic instrumental, math-post hardcore rock coated in magnificently building violin sections also coated in merciless riffs. There are numerous other additions as well as in which you can find below.
Tickets are just £18 for what represents an incredible value for money and can be purchased HERE.
Pulled Apart By Horses -Ed Harcourt – Famy – DZ Deathrays – Flyte - Fear of Men – Laurel – Curxes – Talons – Brontide - Blessa – Mazes – Castles – Eliza & The Bear 100 Ounces – Alpha Male Tea Party – Andy Oliveri – Bad Grammar - Battery Hens – Beautiful Boy – Big Fin – Big Sixes – Body Hound - Boy Jumps Ship – Brawlers – Break-Ups - Dear Everyone - Deluxe Flamingos – Doe – Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux – Elephantantrum - Eloise Keating – Emperor Yes – Employed To Serve – Fairweather Band -FALLS – Fickle Friends – Flash Fires – Floella Grace – Fred Page - FURS – Gang – Goodtime Boys – Gossling – Happy Accidents – Happyness - Harker – Holy Kasper – Honeyblood – House of Thieves – Hunter And The Bear - Iced Out – Jesse Wylde & The Stallions – Jimmy Islip and the Ghosts w/ Sam Russo - Joythief – Kagoule – Kassassin Street – Layers – Life – Lillian Todd Jones - LOOKS – Love Park – Lu’Ami – Lucky One Dies First – Lyger - Martha – Matt Emery – Matt Jarvis – Meadowlark – Menace Beach - Michael A Grammar – Natasha North – Nothing But Thieves - Osca – Passport to Stockholm – Pawws – Pedro Donkey - Personal Best – Phoria – Pixel Fix – Popabawa – Prides – Pure Graft - Racing Glaciers – Raglans – Richie & The Remedy - RickyFitts – Rough Hands – SACHA – Saint Agnes - Sam Brothers – Slaves – Spring King – Tangled Hair – Teef – The B of The Bang - The Boy I Used To Be – The Cadbury Sisters – The Cairos – The Lion & The Wolf -The Magic Gang – The Plastic Beats Band – The Prestige - The Proper Ornaments – The Ramona Flowers – The SLM - The Southsea Alternative Choir – ThisPlanet – Thought Forms - Tigercub – Tom Moody – Trampolene – Uncle Luc – Unknown Soldiers – Waylayers - We The Wild – Woahnows – Wildest Dreams
We continue with our co-published history articles with aspex Gallery, researched by Laura McLean-Ferris who has recently been crawling through the Aspex Gallery archives and has produced a series of articles for aspex about their 33 year history. We’re very happy to partner up and cross post their aspex history blog posts here on Strong Island, you can see the original aspex blog post HERE. This fourth article in the series today looks at how aspex worked with Cornelia Parker in the late 1980s, and how Art Space Portsmouth & aspex became separate organisations.
Now in the Tate collection, Cornelia Parker’s Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-89) is an installation of over 1000 pieces of silverware that the artist had flattened by a steamroller. Each is suspended from the ceiling using copper wire, hanging a few inches above the gallery floor in clustered puddles, forming a kind of grid. The work transforms domestic items, such as cigarette cases, trophies, and tableware, into pure elemental material, and yet each flat silver disc contains within it the ghost of a former life. Silver is commemorative – and many of the items are suggestive of occasions such as birth, retirement, engagement, triumph or memorial. The work displays Parker’s interest, around this time, in acts of material violence that expand the viewer’s engagement with the objects and materials around them.
Les Buckingham, then director of aspex, recalls seeing 30 Pieces of Silver at Ikon Gallery and being particularly taken with it, and so approaching Parker to invite her to show the work at aspex. ‘I knew the director of Ikon, Antonia Payne’, Buckingham remembers, ‘and she agreed that I could approach Cornelia about a second showing. The piece was installed at Ikon in the basement and was smaller than intended. When I talked to Cornelia she jumped at the chance to show it in a large and high space. The installation was the most complex of my career, filling the entire gallery, (1600 sq feet), and involving three weeks work and miles of fuse wire. Six to ten people worked on the project with the artist and the results were spectacular.’ Amusingly, there’s a note in the aspex archives which details that the height for suspension was ‘One toilet roll plus a piece of hardboard’.
In contrast to the way the work is now shown, visitors were able to walk between the pools of sculptures. Following a visit to aspex by the Arts Council the work was selected for the British Art Show. The artist discussed the time-lag that it took for the work to make an impact in a recent interview with The Guardian. ‘I made Thirty Pieces of Silver for the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and it didn’t get a single review’, she says. ‘It wasn’t until it was shown at the British Art Show at the Hayward a year later that people noticed.’ The work was purchased for the Tate Collection in 1998.
aspex was also going through changes during this period. Following several years of working as an artist-run space, the threat of climbing rents compelled the organisation to transform to its status to a charity, which meant transforming the structure of aspex. In an effort to protect the gallery and studio artists from high rents, the decision was made to seek charitable status and Aspex Visual Arts Trust was formed. Buckingham remembers this as a complicated period of transformation for the organisation, which essentially split the studios from the gallery, but it was one that was necessary to secure aspex, as a resource that would continue to exist after its founders were no longer involved. Though the two are now separate entities, the Trust continues to work together with the artist founders at Art Space Portsmouth.
All images courtesy of the Aspex Visual Arts Trust Ltd. and the artist.
Flo! Hi, so what did you think of Blissfields overall?
-Blissfields was amazing! Such a big impact for such a small festival. It really has its character nailed and they really treat their artists so well; a safe place to camp, loads of scrummy food and everyone’s always so on it with what’s going on!
What was your highlight, or favourite part of Blissfields?
-My favourite part was waking up to watch Jungle Book in the cinema tent with a cup of tea. Well, between that and Laurel riding the lion statue in the Hustle Den on our last night. That was good!
Have you got any EPs or albums planned?
-I do have a home studio now so there’ll be a lot of recordings and things happening. There’s a music video for a song I feature on coming out very soon and generally, this summer will be a hell of a lot busier than the last year!! I promise!
So, do you have anything that’s influenced or inspired you for the album?
-Well I have a kind of dream/shanty/surf/folk vibe going on for the album but I don’t really know where it’s come from particularly. The band that play and record with me are called Plastic Mermaids and two members of Fine Lines. They’re such amazing musicians individually so each of them has added their mark to my songs which has made this amazing sound.
And finally, what is music to you?
-Well, I guess music is everything to me; it was music that got me here! Most of my school days were spent being tormented by nasty kids and music was my way of pretending I was having revenge. When I quit my job and got myself kicked out, busking kept me eating. It’s the way I met most of my friends. It was how I got my internship and my job, through knowing the people I do through my music. It makes me happy and sad and when I play. It seems to do the same to everyone else. I love my music, I have to say it.
A huge thanks to Floella Grace, not only for the interview but for her humble, golden performance as well. It truly felt like a privilege to experience.
A touch later than usual, Charlie is back with the 21st episode of Longlive Radio for the Strong Island Sounds podcast:
If music be the food of love, play on, so said someone made up. So this week I’m looking at couples in music, there’s married couples in Win Butler & Régine Chassagne from Arcade Fire and Richard and Linda Thompson. Friends in Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, musical partners in Beach House and then ambiguous couple Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood. I’m not sure where to start with The White Stripes = Siblings/Married….? As seems to be a habit now, I also unconsciously included James Iha and D’arcy Wretzky from The Smashing Pumpkins.
There’s other tunes from the ever brilliant Caribou, some vintage hip-hop from 3rd Bass, some funk from Lee Dorsey and Eugene McDaniels and from Sam’s Selection Box this week there’s John Prine with ‘Saddle In The Rain’.
Sadly, the day after I recorded this show, Bobby Womack passed away. I ended this particular show with his beautiful cover of ‘Everyone’s Gone To The Moon’, which now feels like a poignant tribute to an absolute hero. RIP x
Rebellion (Lies) – Arcade Fire
Cherrystones – Eugene McDaniels
Give It Up – Lee Dorsey
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight – Richard & Linda Thompson
Wild – Beach House
The Gas Face – 3rd Bass
Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground – The White Stripes
Disarm – The Smashing Pumpkins
Summer Wine – Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
Ikyadarh Dim – Tinariwen
Saddle In The Rain – John Prine
Can’t Do Without You – Caribou
Bam Bam – Sister Nancy
Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush
Everyone’s Gone To The Moon – Bobby Womack
Listen to the podcast episode below, or you can listen, subscribe and download it from iTunes. You can also find the latest Strong Island Sounds podcast episode on the Strong Island homepage under the comments section too.
As Friday morning dawned, four thousand Blissfieldians crawled bleary-eyed out of their tents and dragged themselves across the extended festival site for a good dose of caffeine and a pyjama-clad showing of The Jungle Book. The Electric Dreams tent proved popular for young and old alike over the course of the weekend, and there’s nothing like a rendition of Bear Necessities to bring everyone together!
Wolf Alice were first to take to the stage on Friday, as the awake half of Blissfields sprawled out on the grass before the Wild Stage and drank in their versatile sound, which combined hazy, folky vocals comparable to Daughter and First Aid Kit, with rocky riffs reminiscent of the Vaccines. Lead singer Ellie captured the mood, saying ‘this is the most chilled out and relaxed festival we’ve ever been to.’
During the afternoon, Strong Island-loved local artists didn’t let the ominous clouds steal their thunder, with Luke Ferre delivering a poignant set of new material to a ever-growing group of eager fans, and Bellyeyesmile treating the Hidden Hedge to a effortless blend of classic Krautrock, combined with other, more upbeat pop influences such as Neil Young and the Beach Boys.
As the evening drew in, Dan Croll brought his amped-up-acoustic sound to the Wild Stage, delivering crisp melodies and witty lyrics, not dissimilar to Blissfields veterans Spector. Croll’s track ‘Maway’ provided the perfect accompaniment to a my second butternut squash and halloumi burger in two days. Johnny Flynn also provided sunset pseudo-folk to his loyal Hustle Den crowd, which was packed with swaying bodies by sundown.
Finally, Sleigh Bells braved the downpour to shower fans with distorted vocals and dance beats. For those who were not quite as brave, inside the Hustle Den Gypsie Circus provided a carnival atmosphere with their bright and brazen contrasts of farcical pantomime style dancers with paper mache heads, and a beautifully embellished belly dancer, who warranted rather a different sort of cheer from the crowd…
I’ve already been in yesterday and bagged a bargain or two. The sale includes gear from brands Brixton, Adidas Originals, HUF, Carhartt, Nike SB, Obey and many more. Check out what the guys have on offer in store or online at www.boredofsouthsea.co.uk/shop.
Hello! So, what’s been your highlight of Blissfields so far?
Wolf Alice! Yeah, they’re friends from Camden, so yeah seeing them was really good. Also, hanging out with them yesterday was really fun.
Can people expect a Burning Beaches album or EP soon?
Oh, yeah! We’ve got another festival next month but as soon as that’s done we’re going to record another EP and get it out as soon as possible, hopefully September.
Sounds sweet! And so, about the EP: what’s the main inspiration for it? Have you been influenced much by other bands or genres?
Um, I don’t think so. No, not really, we’re just trying to do what we do live, but on record.
How has Blissfields been overall?
I’ve had such a great time at my first Blissfields. It was bigger than I expected. The mixture of people was a nice surprise too. It’s somewhere you can go a bit nuts with your mates but also has a great family vibe to it. I’ll definitely be going next year.
And finally, what is music to you?
Music plays such a big part in my life, whether I am playing with Burning Beaches or writing songs for other people, I am always keeping myself busy with it. Really cannot decide which I prefer- being in the studio or playing live.
Huge thanks to Sam for finally staying in one place so I could talk to him and also to the band, who were awesome when they played the Hustle Den! The music was raw and heavy (this could be partly due to them performing rather early and a night of drinking beforehand) but seriously, live rock and hot coffee isn’t the worst way to wake up.
And so again to Blissfields, the place to be to witness some of the best burgeoning talent that the South Coast has to offer, as well as plenty of established and memorable artists besides. This year brought with it a ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ theme, five versatile stages, and the first rain at Blissfields for nine years! However, the Great British weather was no match for our Blissfields artists, who came from far and wide to deliver their burgeoning talent to an awe-struck festival goers.
The festival site had evolved since last year, this year the main arena was larger and a second camping area was created. Other welcome additions to festival were our friends from Pie & Vinyl who were there selling their trademark delicious pies, psychedelic tie dye tee’s and obviously vinyl records. Making their Blissfields debut were the Bathing Under The Sky team, with a number hot tubs, hot showers and a sauna.
After setting up camp, a tour of the site, dinner (courtesy of The Breakfast Club) it was time to check out some music. On Thursday evening The Hustle Den stage played host to the Road to Blissfields winners, including Portsmouth champions The B of the Bang; the bang delivered a powerful set, which built tension through melodic changes and contrasting harmonies. The most memorable track culminated in a crescendo, incorporating every voice, and the repetition of the words ‘We All Stand On Thin Ice’, which lent an almost prayer-like sense to the track and made for a very impressive performance, without a doubt the B of the Bang’s best to date.
Fellow Portsmouth singer/songwriter Matt Jarvis also took to The Larch Stage, once again silencing his captive audience with promising new material, a relaxed acoustic tone, and heartfelt lyrics. Matt said of his Blissfields experience: “Just as last year, it was a really nice show for me. I always find it hard to perform well in front of a raucous audience, but in the Larch everyone was sat quietly around the stage, which made for a really intimate setting. It was all very chilled. Seeing so many familiar faces in the crowd helped to quash the pre-gig nerves that set in beforehand as well, so I must thank everyone who came to see me. The rest of my weekend was just great music, meeting awesome people, little sleep, and lots of food and drink. Perfect.”
Finally, the Dub Pistols brought raucousness with them well into the night and teased Blissed-out festival goers with the promise of a (mostly) sun-drenched weekend, and the perfect soundtrack to accompany it.
Photos by Daniel O’Neill
The Fareham Art Trail is taking place at various venues throughout Fareham between 23rd – 30th August. There is currently a call for submissions to show your work to a large and engaged audience. Closing date 20th July. Open to professional, emerging, amateur and student artists. It is organised by Live Art Local in conjunction with Fareham Borough Council and Community Action. Contact email@example.com for submission details.
For more details please see their website at http://farehamarttrail.com/
This coming weekend 12th and 13th July, the Stand Clear Gallery is playing host to a number of great artists with every stall selling something different. From rock caricatures to pixel based pieces there will be something for everyone.
There will be a raffle, including prizes from all our sellers, as well as a lunch for 2 voucher, kindly donated by Southsea Coffee and two pieces from My Dog Sighs. Two extra special prizes will be created on the day by local artists so make sure that you get yourself down there.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the Portsmouth Film Society were forced to postpone the open air screening of Dallas Buyers Club, however we are happy to inform you that it has been rescheduled for Southsea Castle on Tuesday 15th July. Tickets for both these events are available from their website HERE.
Dallas Buyers Club (Cert 15) @ Southsea Castle. Doors open from 8:30pm with the movie starting 9:30pm.
Matthew McConaughey’s oscar winning performance as real-life Texan Ron Woodroof, whose free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when, diag-nosed as HIV-positive, he is given 30 days to live. Ron, shunned by his old friends, takes matters in his own hands, tracks down alternative treatments from all over the world.
Today sees the Queen christen the Royal Navy’s largest ever ship and their new flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), with a bottle of whiskey in Rosyth at 11am. The QE Carrier class is epic in scale and the city and the people of Portsmouth have been heavily involved in the process of creating both ships in the class (HMS Queen ELizabeth and HMS Prince Charles), with towering sections built by shipbuilders in the Royal Dockyard at the now empty, cavernous sheds. Fitting maybe that 500 plus years of shipbuilding craftsmanship for the Navy in Portsmouth ends with the largest and most advanced warships to ever have been made in the UK.
To get a sense of the scale, HMS Queen Elizabeth is three time the size of HMS Illustrious which until it’s current trip up to Govern for the ceremony has overlooked Portsmouth Harbour. The 56 metre tall ship, 4 metres taller than Niagara Falls, and 284 metres long…when she comes to her new home port of Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth in 2017 for sea trials and then in service in 2020, she will instantly become a striking land/seamark for the city.
For every photo and TV clip you see today of HMS Queen Elizabeth and in the 50+ years of this very special ship’s service life, it is worth taking a moment to remember a part of the very fabric of this ship, including the distinctive forward Island – home to the bridge, was built in this city, by highly skilled and experienced shipbuilders continuing a cultural tradition that went back to the Mary Rose and beyond.
Below are a few images of the sections produced in Portsmouth:
Photo: BAE Systems
Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dave Jenkins, Crown Copyright/MOD 2013
QE Class artist illustration
Photographer Chris Brunnen is a local professional photographer who works commercially under CJB Photography and provides a wide range of photography services, including something a little different, Chris specialises in aerial photography. We spoke to Chris to find out more about how he got in to photography and in to this particular specialist field:
Hi Chris, how did you first get interested in photography?
I was introduced to photography when I was about 12 by Neil, my friend and neighbour. He was a few years older than me and was taking lessons at his school when he came home one day with an envelope of black & white prints he’d made and it completely amazed me. I couldn’t comprehend how it was done, I thought the process had to be done in a factory or by a huge company, I had no idea this was something that could be done at home in a darkened room. From that day, I remember the feeling so well, I was hooked, I wanted a camera. I begged my parents but they weren’t about to buy me an expensive piece of kit at that age so they gave me an old Box Brownie. Yes really, that was my first camera! Fortunately Neil’s mum worked in a chemist and knew how to load the camera but he would take the films to school to process them. We would set up scenes in the garden and photograph them, we even re-created the moon landing with Acton Man.
A few years later photography became an option in art lessons at my school and I started using the school’s 35mm cameras and lenses. I learned to process and print them myself and went on to take ‘O’ & ‘A’ Level exams, that introduced me to the practical, theory and history sides of the subject. I also studied art, technical drawing, physics and chemistry, all essential subjects in this field of work.
I went on to study Graphic Design at Art College. I’d originally intended to study Fine Art but I had a falling out with one of the lecturers on the pre-degree course…so I went to Graphics, a department next door to the photographic department where I ended up spending most of my time. The training as a designer I found very useful in photography, composition and layout are similar skills, again very useful background work to becoming a photographer. I find many people get too hung up on the camera, expecting to get great results from buying a big expensive piece of kit, they won’t, any more than buying a Stradivarius will make you a concert violinist. It takes more than that.
What got you in to taking aerial photos?
My first job was at a design & photography firm, I was behind a drawing board one day, behind the camera the next. As that firm grew I found I was spending more time taking photographs than designing and eventually left, with their backing, to set up my own photographic business, CJB Photography, in much bigger premises with a huge studio. Studio work has always been the main stay of my business but aerial photography is my USP.
What was your first experience of taking photos from the air?
A designer client of mine was working for IBM and needed aerial shots of their site at Havant and asked if I could do it…. I said yes. Fortunately they had a significant budget for the job so I hired a helicopter and off I went. While I was up I took a few other shots around Portsmouth and later showed them off to my clients. They met with a great deal of interest and since then, 1987, I’ve been flying virtually every month.
Rare colour aerial photo of Portsdown Park.
Can you describe your go-to camera kit for aerial photography? Any specialist equipment?
With aerial photography it’s all about resolution, the higher the better. Remember the first time you went on Google Earth, I’m betting you went straight to your house and zoomed in as close as you can. Aerial photos are the same and unique in the way they are viewed, make a big print and people just want to get closer, you don’t view portraits or landscapes like that, you’d step back to admire it. With that in mind I use a high res Canon with a wide ranging zoom and image stabiliser, your average DSLR isn’t going to cut it.
Southsea Show from some years ago.
On an aerial shoot are you able to take photos for yourself in the time in the air?
Most of my work is on commission but I do take advantage of my time in the air to build up my Aerial Photo Library, to be found on my web site, where there are now thousands of images for sale.
Any near misses?
The pilots and helicopters I use are all on an Air Operators Certificate for commercial flying and as such subject to strict maintenance schedules and safety regulations so ‘near misses’ don’t happen but I was in a heli with engine failure once, just as we were coming in to land at the airfield so the pilot set it down on the end of the runway, could’ve been worse I guess. Funny thing is, this wasn’t a working flight, I was being taken out to dinner at a hotel by the operator with their other regular clients. All a bit embarrassing for them really.
Close up view of the Spinnaker Tower.
What sort of clients do you work with and where do your photos end up being used/shown?
I’ve been involved with some amazing projects. The construction of McLaren’s HQ at Woking, St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton and recently the Thames Gateway Project. Most other jobs are more mundane but it still gets me up in a helicopter on a regular basis.
Which do you prefer, helicopter or aeroplane?
I don’t use fixed wing, although cheaper, they have wheels and wing struts that obscure the view and are much more unstable. There are some companies that use them but they really are inferior, sorry about the cliché but you get what you pay for.
You can see lots more of Chris’ photography on his website and Facebook page, which he often updates with aerial photos challenging people to guess the location. All photos with this interview are copyright of Chris Brunnen and used with kind permission.
North End from the air.
Low tide in Langstone Harbour.
In our final Blissfields 2014 preview we are featuring the hottest emerging talent from the South Coast, Laurel. The 19 year old Folk/Alternative Pop singer has been a regular feature on Strong Island for a while now. She first came to our attention while I was judging the Road To Blissfields 2012 competition. The opening slot at any gig can always be tricky, but Laurel quickly captured the crowds attention, with her heart felt lyrics and acoustic guitar.
The winners on the night were ska band, Bigtopp. Laurel impressed that much that she managed to bag a slot in the Acoustic Tent anyway. She tells me that she has fond memories of her first Blissfields experience as it’s where she met her boyfriend. She’s gone from performing in the Acoustic Tent to the much larger Hustle Den along with the likes of the Dub Pistols and Johnny Flynn, who she credits as one of her biggest influences in music.
Laurel is now plying her trade in London and is signed to Turnfirst Artists, her label mates include Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora, Iggy Azalea and Dan Croll. Last November saw Laurel’s first major live show since signing a record deal. It just happened to be in one of London’s leading gig venues, the Shepherds Bush Empire, opening for MS MR. No pressure then!
I was lucky enough to be there to see the twenty five minute set which included her newest tracks Mankind, The Desert and Blue Blood. The songs sounded great in such a large venue, I had a great time and judging by the post show Tweets and reviews so did everyone else.
Laurel spend most of 2013 working hard writing many of the songs that you can hear over on her SoundCloud page. When writing Laurel prefers to write them alone, she describes “I’ve tried writing and producing with other people but figured out that I work best alone on my own material. Its good for me because I can hide away and figure out the song alone which means its 100percent how I am feeling and nobody else’s interpretation of me. I’ve written with many many other people in london in LA etc and though i have found some amazing people that really have aided my music and i still work with occasionally and I think i will collaborate with people again at some point right now writing on my own is how I feel best suits me and my first album”.
In keeping with the Wild Side theme to Blissfields this year, Laurel was asked ‘if you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?’ Her response: “I’d like to be a peacock. They are like the princesses of all the birds, they leisure round showing off their pretty feathers. I’d also love to live on a huge english estate, and this might be the only chance of this.”
If you are not lucky enough to be heading to Blissfields this weekend then you can still catch Laurel in Portsmouth this September when she plays Southsea Fest.
Taken during the Aesthetic Magazine photo shoot
Who says that thirteen is an unlucky number? Today’s Blissfields preview features The Boy I Used To Be, the acoustic recording brainchild of EP and MJ, who together produce a melange of folk, pop, indie, alternative, with a touch of rock, garage and psychedelia thrown in for good measure. With so many influences, you might assume that their sound would be a tad hectic, but this is not the case; rather, the boys take the best parts of all these genres and combine them to create something unique, which is full of interesting contrasts; somehow, they manage to capture sun-drenched and melancholy effortlessly.
Without a doubt, The Boy I Used To Be’s defining characteristic is that ‘one guy has the sounds in his head and works with other people to make them bigger and better with no boundaries to sound.’ This philosophy is reflected in their influences, which include Beck, Kurt Vile, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Cloud Nothings. The boys released their first EP earlier this year with Pie & Vinyl Records.
Having just returned from Isle of Wight festival, The Boy I Used To Be said of Blissfields ‘we’re most looking forward to sneaking about and seeing loads of amazing bans, stuff we just wouldn’t normally get to see like Tune-Yards and Cosmo Sheldrake, as well as our best buds Matt Jarvis and The B of the Bang.’ Post-Bliss, the boys can be found at Truck Festival on 19th July, as well as the Johnny Marr show at the Wedgewood Rooms on the 2nd August.
Finally, in keeping with the wildlife theme, I asked the band ‘if you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?’ Their response: ‘We’d be an internet meme cat because we’ve found the darkest parts of YouTube and Reddit far too often in our lives.’
Welcome back to part two of our interview with John Bagnall, a key player in bringing one of the biggest dates in the sporting calendar to Portsmouth in 1994. You can revisit part one here.
Hi John, in part one we discussed what it takes to begin paving the way for a Portsmouth stage. What else did you have to organise or overcome on your road to June 1994?
The next obstacle we had was the police, mainly due to the fact they had never dealt with anything quite so big before. At the time you had the Milk Race and the Kellogg’s Tour Of Britain as the biggest cycling events in the UK. And those were done by rolling road closures: a police car or motorcycle in front and behind which leapfrogged each other to stop the traffic. The Tour wouldn’t contemplate that, it had to be a completely sterile loop. The police have an organisation called ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers), that oversee combined or national large scale operations. We got assigned an inspector who was a bit full of himself and quite jack the laddish. You could see why he had gone far in the police force; a rather strong personality. He came to the first meetings saying, “well you know, I can’t see it working but we’ll go through the motions”, it was that sort of attitude. This was partly because, to start off with, they couldn’t get their mind round what the Tour was and how it felt to be part of it. So we took him and a couple of his deputies, including another guy assigned by Hampshire Constabulary, to France the next year to see the race. The Tour kindly decided to put them in their control car as guests, and for two days they were able to experience their operations first hand.
Unfortunately we thought we’d blown it on the first day. By then they were into the mountains, and this particular stage finished at Sestriere in the Alps, which is one of the very famous climbs if not one of the very legendary ones. Sestriere is now in all of the record books because Claudio Chiapuccino won it with the longest by distance and time break away in Tour history. Claudio came in forty five minutes ahead of the rest, it was quite an incredible ride, and probably drug assisted at the time if the truth be known… But Sestriere is a mountain top and it was just gridlocked. There was no way you could get anywhere for hours afterwards and yet we were supposed to collect these ACPO guys in order to look after them. We just couldn’t make the physical connections. Mobiles were very new technology and there was no coverage on the tops of the alps, so we had no means of getting in touch with them. We thought we had really blown it, they will be pretty hacked off at being left stranded with French men. As it turned out our French counterparts realised the situation and said “don’t worry, we will look after you”. They dished up a really nice dinner, got them suitably drunk and they had a really good time. When we met up with them the following day we fully expected them to pull the plug on the whole affair, however they expressed a different kind of concern; “After what we saw yesterday I’m not sure that we, the English police force, could manage something so awe inspiring. It was so well organised, it is going to give us real problems matching it”. Thankfully this soon became an ego thing and before we knew it, the challenge had been set to do it better than the French.
I recall in the first half of this interview you briefly mentioned the issue of legislation having to be created specifically for the Tour, could you give us more details on what had to be put into place?
What the police soon realised was that road cycling at that time, took place under a minor clause-of-a-sub-statute-of-a-bit-of-legislation dating back to 1948. This simply didn’t give them the powers they would need to create a completely sterile road closure. The existing legislation meant that it was okay for a police car to stop and for a policeman to halt traffic with his hands for 15 minutes, but not for a full day. So we shaped and drafted an Act of Parliament that was taken through as a private member’s bill. It was very discreetly done because this was still subject to confidentiality, all very hush hush. The bill went through Parliament and was enacted; giving all the relevant authorities the power to do whatever necessary to close the road and such like. This is the same legislation under which the Tour can take place in Yorkshire on Saturday.
That then just left all the towns and villages. We had numerous meetings with the county councils: Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire because the Tour want money to come. To be a start of finish town back then was around £100,000.00, which is quite a lot of money. And that was just for the Tour to come, so not including your organisation costs. All of that had to be negotiated through all of the various councils, but I think we had the political network working for us, everyone at Portsmouth City Council was up for it. By then a momentum was gathering and rumours started to appear. Cycling Weekly would phone up every so often and ask “what is going on?” “well what do you think is going on? I haven’t heard anything?”, all this bluff and counter bluff. Cycling is a small world, so they recognised that if they blew it then it could lift the lid on the whole thing. They were bound into it as well. Gradually we ticked off all the councils putting up the money for physical improvements. After this operation had been put into place the roads on the planned the route had never better for cycling; whole stretches were re-tarmacked because none of the councils wanted to be known for having bought a rider down.
The next part of the operation was to simply identify all the businesses that would be affected; banks, supermarkets, retail outlets, etc. Staff would have problems getting in due to the roads being closed at five in the morning. Deliveries would not be able to take place and cash points would not be refilled. Memorably I researched every crematorium, cemetery and undertakers on 25 miles either side of the route in order to write to them saying “please be aware that on this day restrictions will be in place and you might not have access for mourners, don’t book funerals for that day”. Similar to this, part of the route was going up Ditchling Beacon where a very rare orchid grows, so rare that its location is kept a secret. Naturally the Environmental Agency were worried about it, so the area was coned off and marshal placed there specifically to protect this plant from cycling fans and plant collectors alike.
Then it was just down to getting people along the route to buy into it; we persuaded villages councils and the Department for Education to allow schools to close for the day so that their pupils were able to watch the race. By the time we had the national launch, Cycling Weekly was planning events and their editor, Martin Ayres, came on board on a freelance basis to help with the writing of our newsletter. Through our newsletters we were having to inform people who had never heard of the Tour de France what it was about. We had to get out there and convince the people who, not only did not cycle, but disapproved of cycling in general. All whilst keeping the cycling clubs and the aficionados happy. It all came together amazingly well, but it was a lot of hard work. During the winter of 93 -94, for three to four nights a week I was in village halls somewhere along the route; showing a film and telling people what would be happening. Often you would get people sitting there with their arms crossed saying “why should I pay my rates so that French men can race bikes past my house?”, we were dealing with that sort of mentality.
By all accounts this was a successful stage, but can you tell me if there were any incidents that you had to deal with? With that amount of people massed together surely some issues cropped up?
The only incident in the whole thing was during the Portsmouth leg, when a child stepped out onto the curb after the peloton came round. Unfortunately he was clipped by the wing of one of the official’s cars who were following the riders, and momentarily we were quite concerned. Thankfully the Tour stopped one of its medical cars and called up one of their helicopters. The helicopter landed just behind where it happened and took the child and his mother to the hospital for the check-up. He had a headache and was slightly bruised but nothing serious. In truth it was fantastic PR on the Tour’s part to of done that, it added hugely to the concept of goodwill.
Over the two days, the police estimated between two and three million people had watched at the roadside. It had huge television coverage relative to the time, I remember Mr Leblanc saying that we have already seen the biggest stage crowd for the whole Tour, and we were only on stage four and five. The goodwill that was generated was just amazing, it’s fantastic anywhere you go on the Tour anyway, but the friendship and fun that was being had was truly magic. It laid the groundwork for the Tour to come back to England.
What would you say the aim was in bringing the Tour here, and what legacy did it leave? What do you think it brought to the city?
The immediate aim was to inform as many people as possible across the world, that there is a city called Portsmouth on the south coast of England. A city with an important heritage and history. A city that is open for commercial business. We were the people that started this whole thing, we are a city with a “can do” spirit. We are international and friendly. This was general promotion of sorts, for all kinds of different reasons and messages, and we very much hoped to ignite greater interest in cycling. Not to mention greater investment in cycling on the part of the city. We are on an island, the highest point in Portsmouth is twelve meters above sea level, it’s difficult to think of somewhere better, perhaps Cambridge apart, in physical terms for cycling. And yet the provision within the city is not good. Unfortunately I think Portsmouth just didn’t managed to capitulate on the immediate legacy of the Tour to achieve a tipping point that could be built on. In a way that you could argue that London has done with the Boris Bikes. There is still more work to do and I don’t entirely see who is doing it and where it is coming from. Southsea Cycle Club and various community projects are doing a great job in making it visible, but I don’t think it’s really come together as a critical mass in Portsmouth.
What really makes me sorry is if you cycle up of down the back or Portsdown Hill, you can see where the cycling tracks have been laid and marked out, but the tarmac has almost worn off. There is just the faint trace of a bike as you come up from Waterlooville and I think that is ever so sad, it’s symbolic of the tokenism that prevailed in the end in Hampshire and Portsmouth. They were given an opportunity to make themselves famous permanently in England as the cycling city, but the momentum was never really achieved in the first place. It was a very successfully stage and I think the longer term legacy wasn’t in the immediate benefits to the people who ride bikes in Portsmouth. However, to the cycling community in Britain as a whole it has had enormous benefits; it worked by laying one of the first foundation stones in what you could describe as a cycling wall. In the next course of bricks above Portsmouth 1994 you have Dublin in 1998, and then a couple courses of bricks above that you have London in 2007. Next you have smaller bricks above that: Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. Riders who, as kids, might of watched Portsmouth on Channel 4. I would love to know if Mark Cavendish did and whether it fuelled his desire to be part of such a legendary event. You cannot quantify this part of the legacy. By this weekend, Yorkshire 2014 will be at the top of the wall. Yet when you look closely; Portsmouth is still right there at the bottom, as a foundation stone. This is where it all began.
I would like to express a huge thank you to John & Jan for allowing me into their home and sharing this great story with me. The 101st edition of the Tour De France begins on Saturday the 5th July, with ITV and ITV4 covering live stages and providing nightly highlights.
Following the success of last year’s all-female performance of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, the New Theatre Royal and Shakespeare’s Globe present King Lear between 3rd-5th July. The production itself will be an open air showing in the City Museum Gardens.
Playing the eponymous King will be Joseph Marcell, best known to UK audiences as ‘Geoffrey’, the acerbic and witty butler in the hit show, ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’. Joseph has since gone on to become one of the most respected stage actors in the country.
To book your ticket, visit online box office at www.newtheatreroyal.com, or call the New Theatre Royal on 02392 649 000.
Next up on our Blissfields 2014 Previews are the Hentai Babies, a pop rock group from the Isle of Wight describe themselves as ‘pinecone flavour pop rock’; the description alone tells you that they’re going to be a little different, a bit quirky and that’s exactly what their music is too. It’s upbeat, a little dark, it’s super catchy and definitely, absolutely a bit quirky.
Hentai Babies is made up of Bianca Wheeler as bass and Paul McCann as vocals and guitar. They met in music college and were connected through their love of similar bands such as Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and Michael Jackson. Their influences include Hooks and said bands and you can really hear some of those elements in their own music, especially from The Smashing Pumpkins and Cobain’s breathy vocals.
Although they haven’t yet performed at a festival, they have played at many gigs and are regular performers at various pubs and clubs, even a shop window (there’s a first for everything)! They have a fan base which reaches as far as Japan.
My first impression of Hentai Babies was that it was alike to Gorillaz, only much sunnier and more upbeat. It’s the slight Japanese twist and electro pop rock elements that make them quite similar, as well as the vocals; they’re quite unusual and this makes them even more interesting to listen to. My personal favourite is Nice Little Story- possibly the catchiest song I’ve heard all year which has an amazing feel good vibe to it. The kind of song that would be perfect to listen to on the beach, on a really, really hot day.
When asked what animal they would be and why, for the Blissfields theme Walk on the Wild Side, Hentai Babies responded with ‘Flipper. Smart, loveable and he can jump thru and hoop and catch a fish in his mouth’. Well, Hentai Babies certainly are smart and loveable- we’ll have to see how advanced they are at tricks..
Next up on our Blissfields 2014 Previews are Camden based Burning Beaches, an eclectic, colourful mix of psychedelic rock and garage pop. This combination of genres is due to the band’s almost nonchalant approach to music, rather than limit their songs to one genre, they ‘like to make each song its own flavour’ which really is a wise and admirable approach. With Mike Bracken on drums, Dan Sayer on bass, Luke Bowman on guitar and Portsmouth lad Sam McCarthy on lead vocals, Burning Beaches literally is music to the ears. Like really, really good music.
They are generally influenced by hip hop, psychedelic, pop, blues, rock… in their own words, ‘As long as it’s a banger, we will play it.’ The variety of genres in their music lends some similarities to other bands and artists. Think Hendrix-esque solos and riffs, Cobain’s angsty, heavy voice and a kind of Chili Peppers vibe and you’re just about there. However they also incorporate an authentic, proper ‘London’ sound to their music, they’re bona fide musicians making real music.
Burning Beaches performed last year in Ibiza and said ‘we lost our sh*t a bit. Was fun.’ They have played in other bands at various festivals, but this year is the first Burning Beaches will be performing at Blissfields, and they’re also playing at Victorious this August.
My favourite song of theirs? Definitely Sink or Swim. A deep introductory guitar riff and empty, almost echoing vocals quickly erupt into fantastic guitar and bass, heavy enough to make your ribcage shake but not so heavy that vocals are drowned out. It’s a delicious mix of rock and garage pop and my only resentment for their music is not quality (God knows there’s enough of that) but quantity. However, this will soon be resolved as the band is planning to release one or two EPs soon. Yay!
Finally, McCarthy was asked what Burning Beaches would be as an animal and he answered ‘tequila worms’. When asked why, he said ‘we like to drink tequila’- I guess you really are what you eat… and drink.