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Portsmouth Film Society | Open Air Screenings

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.

Dallas Buyers Club Poster

HMS Queen Elizabeth Naming Ceremony Today

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:

HMS Queen Elizabeth (1)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (2)
Photo: BAE Systems

HMS Queen Elizabeth (3)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (4)
Picture: Leading Airman (Photographer) Dave Jenkins, Crown Copyright/MOD 2013

HMS Queen Elizabeth (5)
QE Class artist illustration

HMS Queen Elizabeth (6)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (7)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (8)

Created Local with Aerial Photographer Chris Brunnen

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.

Created Local with Photographer Chris Brunnen (2)

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.

Created Local with Photographer Chris Brunnen (2)
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.

Created Local with Photographer Chris Brunnen (3)
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.

Created Local with Photographer Chris Brunnen (4)
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.

Created Local with Photographer Chris Brunnen (5)
North End from the air.

Created Local with Photographer Chris Brunnen (6)
Low tide in Langstone Harbour.

Created Local with Photographer Chris Brunnen (7)
Chris Brunnen.

Blissfields 2014 Preview #14 | Laurel

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 Blissfields
The Road To Blissfields 2012. Photo taken by Daniel O’Neill

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 Shepherds Bush Empire
Laurel opening for MS MR at Shepherds Bush Empire

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.

For more information on Laurel you can follow her on on Facebook, Twitter YouTube and SoundCloud.

Taken during the Aesthetic Magazine photo shoot

Blissfields 2014 Preview #13 | The Boy I Used To Be | By Sophie Perryer

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.’

You can find The Boy I Used To Be on Facebook, Twitter @theboyiusedtobe and SoundCloud.

The boy i used to be

When The Tour Came To Portsmouth – A Conversation With John Bagnall – Part 2/2

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.

New Theatre Royal and Shakespeare’s Globe Present… King Lear

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, or call the New Theatre Royal on 02392 649 000.

NTR King Lear

Blissfields 2014 Preview #12 | Hentai Babies by Grace Aquilina

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..

Find Hentai Babies on Soundcloud, Facebook and Twitter @HentaiBabies for news, music and updates.

Hentai Babies

Blissfields 2014 Preview #11 | Burning Beaches by Grace Aquilina

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.

Find and follow Burning Beaches on their Facebook and Twitter @BurningBeaches for news and music.

Burning Beaches

aspex Successfully Gain Arts Council England Funding for the Next Three Years

Great news this morning hearing that Arts Council England (ACE) have shown continued support for aspex Gallery with the gallery securing funding for the next three years!

Chair of the board of trustees, Deborah Owen-Ellis Clark, said: “The board of trustees is pleased that ACE recognises the importance of the work aspex does as an NPO and we are very proud of the aspex team who are so committed to delivering an extraordinary quality of work and educational experiences. The team will now be able to continue their important work in helping to enrich the cultural environment in Portsmouth and surrounding area. Thank you to ACE.”

University of Portsmouth’s Dr. Catherine Harper, who is Dean of the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, said: “University of Portsmouth has interacted with aspex for over 30 years, so we are thrilled that Arts Council England have included them in their national portfolio for the next three years. We continue our close co-operation to this day, with students from courses in the Faculty of Creative & Cultural Industries and across the University working with aspex on a range of different projects. The announcement is also a further vote of confidence in the growth of Creative & Cultural Industries sector in the city of Portsmouth”.

The funding, set at £112,000 per year from 2015, is a slight cut of 1% from the current level, but will still enable aspex to continue to support the development of the contemporary visual art sector in Portsmouth and the surrounding region. We look forward to contributing to an increasingly vibrant cultural offer, and connecting with more people over the coming years.

Here is to the next three years!

Find out more at

When The Tour Came To Portsmouth – A Conversation With John Bagnall – Part 1/2

With the 101st edition of the Tour de France due to begin on Saturday and a summer of sport well underway, I believe the time is right to delve into the past and look to when the world’s greatest cycling race crossed the channel to our shores. On the 7th of July 1994 Hampshire was gripped with cycling fever; a 187km long 5th stage was about to begin and end in Portsmouth. Half a billion eyes around the world were glued to television sets as the peloton, which included cycling legends Marco Pantani, Miguel Indurain, Chris Boardman and a young Texan called Lance Armstrong, powered past HMS Victory in the Historic Dockyard. For a day, Portsmouth played host to one of the most prestigious sporting events on the calendar. So how did this extraordinary day come about? In a two part post, I catch up with Southsea resident and ex-council employee John Bagnall, a key player in bringing the event to the city.


Hi John, thank you for taking time out to speak to us. First of all can you tell us what you were doing during the lead up to 1994?

I was the Marketing Communications Manager at Portsmouth City Council, it was looking after press and media relations.

And I believe that this whole venture arose from a discussion over a pub lunch, is that right?

My colleague David Knight, head of leisure for the city council said to me “What can we do that will really put Portsmouth on the map and be a counter point to the D-day commemorations? What is international, bright, young and youth orientated?”

So when you say the commemorations? This was the 50th D-day celebrations? Quite a big deal.

Yes, it was the 50th anniversary of D-day. So for a week at the start of June, Portsmouth became centre to the world in terms of commemorating the liberation, or the beginnings of the liberation of Europe. Clinton and the Queens were here, many world leaders came to Portsmouth and stood in a special bandstand built on Southsea Common. There was a huge international flypast, I think a couple of hundred planes came over Portsmouth; Spitfires, Lancaster Bombers, Flying Fortresses, it really was the world solemnly marking D-day and the beginning of the end of World War Two.


OK, so press-wise, a pretty good window of opportunity here. What was discussed over lunch?

As I said to David over that pub lunch “Hey, why don’t we bid to get the Tour De France to England?” I’d never really thought at that moment there was a realistic prospect of getting them here, I just thought the council would probably laugh it out of court anyway. Even if we did get as far as sending an invitation to them they would just turn round and say “I’m sorry, why would we come to England? You have no history or heritage of cycling”.

So to add a little context, I believe The Tour had come to England once before? In 1974?

Yes, the time before they raced on the newly completed, but not yet opened, Plympton By-pass near Plymouth. It was just coned off at each end and they went up the dual carriage way for X number of laps. And that was it. I think a few hardcore cycling clubs came to see some of the riders of that time, but there was no broadcast coverage and precious little coverage in the newspapers. By all accounts it was very dull and very boring. The Tour didn’t like it because of the amount of time it took to get the riders there and then take them back again.


I see, so it seems like The Tour organisers weren’t exactly scrambling to recreate another UK leg?

No, the tour had no thoughts of coming to England ever again after the Plymouth stage. So during that pub lunch the idea really was to “fly a kite”, let’s do something a bit crazy. My argument to David was; they will probably say no even if they bother to reply, but I can still get some publicity out of that. Perhaps a little story into the cycling friendly The Guardian about how a town in Portsmouth bids to get France’s biggest sport event there (wry laugh)… So David and I went to talk to a guy called Richard Tryst who was the chief executive of the council. Richard was quite a frightening man with a hawkish and cynical sharp manner, but he didn’t suffer fools gladly. He liked boldness and directness. We went to see him and basically said “it’s crazy but we think this is a good thing to do, it ticks all the boxes of what the council are looking at”. He sorted of nodded and said “well yes, there are a lot of other questions to answer as well, but we’ll keep this alive”.

Richard bought in the then leader of the conservative council, a guy called Ian Gibson, who like all local politicians that get to be leaders of the council, was a very upfront, bold and visionary guy. And he got really excited about it as well. So on the 18th of December 1990 I drafted a letter to Henry LeBlanc who was the president of Amaury Sports Organisation, which was the company that controls the Tour De France. And about two weeks later they came back basically saying; “Subject to commercial confidence we are interested, and we are very grateful for your support”. They went on to explain that the Tour at that time was losing direction as the Tour De France; it had this great tradition attached to it but it wasn’t going anywhere with it. What they were trying to do was to introduce a policy that they called “mondialisation”. The organisers wanted to take it global and they were actively looking for other European countries that they could go to. They even discussed the possibility of, and this was back when people were excited by Concorde, to go across the Atlantic and even starting it in America or Canada. So to have an approach from an English city saying “what can we do to help?” was brilliant to them.


Could you perhaps detail some of the ins and outs of trying to organise an event of this scale whilst remaining compliant with the confidentiality agreement? Seems impossible to me.

We had to sign legally binding documents with them not to divulge the fact that they might be coming here, and from there it became a planning operation. The organisers want to be able to book up every hotel going within, in some cases, 50 to 60 miles of a particular stage town. And at a competitive rate too. If it was common knowledge that the Tour was coming to Portsmouth every hotel in Hampshire, Sussex and Dorset would be ratcheting up their prices. Not only that but we had to make sure that the public knew where to be and what they were going to see. We took care of safety and we made sure there were no embarrassing blockages such as level crossing gates being down. It was a massive planning operation that went into incredible detail; and day after day more and more levels of detail were added.

One of the first things that came up was that the Tour uses a massive bandwidth of transmission frequencies. Back then, before radios were used with the riders, the teams still had their private frequencies so that the Director Sportif could talk to the team cars and any other helpers he needed to contact. The race officials too needed an overall race frequency that everybody could listen to, as did the aid operations, the radio operations, the feeding operations, the signing operations and for the clearing up of the signing operations. The list just went on and one. Hundreds of frequencies and sod’s law would have it that was the most of them were in the band of frequencies used in the UK for hospital radio paging systems. There was no way that we could bring the Tour through with hospitals being disrupted and lives being put at risk because of radio interference.

Immediately we set up a meeting with a government agency called the Radio Communications Agency. This was a formal meeting with about 30 of their wise men. We bought over the communications manager of the Tour and a specialist from France Telecoms. During the meeting’s presentation you could see various people around the table shaking their heads; “impossible”, “far too hard”. But a couple of the right senior people listened intently, and one of them I think the deputy chief executive said “well look, I have no idea how were are going to do this because it will be a massive problem, but leave that to us, if we can’t solve it we shouldn’t be doing our job, we think we can do it.” Suddenly the head shakers were agreeing. We got their commitment. From then on the RCA also undertook all that was necessary to make sure that the hospitals, for those two days, would be working from a different wavelength and there would be no clash.


Another major issue was that the overall physical envelope of the Tour is massively more than just the peloton. You have the advanced publicity caravan, you have the people who would have gone over two or three days prior: putting up signage, checking access to the routes, checking where they can take off vehicles that might break down. All the kind of technical aspects. They are physically working several days, and perhaps hundreds of miles distance, from where the Tour is at that particular point. It is all part of the live event. Then you have the security operation that physically surrounds the tour: the motorbike marshals that escort the official’s cars, that monitors the press and first aid cars. They have their own radio frequencies and take up physical space on the roads. Amongst those you have the camera bikes that are filming the close-up of the derailleurs and the break-aways. They are beaming a signal up to a helicopter above and there will be four to five other helicopters covering the breakaways and the peloton. Each group of cyclists needing their own cameras.

For two days they would have to touched on Gatwick’s airspace and the approach path for Heathrow. I remember being in the office when Alan Rushton called Directory Enquiries (this was pre internet days) to get the number for the Civil Aviation Authority. He phoned up the switchboard and asked to speak to whichever department was responsible for closing the airspace above British airports. You could sense the stunned silence on the other end of the phone. Thankfully the CAA came back very quickly with a can do attitude. The only stipulation being that any emergency aircraft landings would have to take priority, but otherwise they would work with the French air traffic specialists to bring the Tour through safely.


Be sure to check in on Wednesday, when we bring you the second part of our interview with John. We will touch on what else was required to bring the race here and what cycling legacy (if at all) the Tour left, not just in Portsmouth, but for the UK.

Spike Zephaniah Stephenson | Southsea Comedy Festival Illustration

Spike Zephaniah Stephenson is an illustrator, designer and sculptor who is currently plying his trade in our capital city. Spike has created an awesome illustration celebrating next months Southsea Comedy Festival.

The detailed illustration features the comedy festival line up; Eddie Izzard, Russell Kane, Rob Beckett, Adam Hills, Marcus Brigstocke and Dana Alexander. If you click on the image below twice you will see a higher resolution version, you will then see a certain manager of the Wedgewood Rooms walking the plank, Spitbank Fort, and is it just me, or do the castaways in the boat look a bit like Rich Hall and Bill Bailey.

Southsea Comedy Festival will form part of the build up to the Southsea Show which will also be held on Southsea Common. Tickets for both the Southsea Comedy Festival and the Southsea Show are on sale at or

You can follow the Southsea Comedy Festival on Twitter @SouthseaComedy and the Southsea Show @SouthseaShow.

Spike Zephaniah Stephenson Southsea Illustration

Southsea Comedy Festival Logo

Blissfields 2014 Preview #10 | DJ Will Chump

Today Blissfields preview features Alternative DJ and Promoter Will Chump. Will first arrived in Portsmouth as a student in 1999 and he has now become one of the city’s recognisable characters in the Portsmouth night club scene. Will is one of the a key figures that have made Monday’s ‘Delight‘ alternative nights at the Astoria (formerly Uropa, Pure and Route 66) such a success. Will is also known for being one of the regular DJ’s in CHAOS and Waster.

Will’s hard work as a DJ, entertainer and live event host has been recognised by The Portsmouth News and it’s followers in the form of not one, but in fact multiple ‘Best DJ’ Awards. As part of the publications annual ‘The Guide Awards’ series, Will won the Runner Up award for ‘Best DJ’ in 2006 and securing the award itself in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Will was DJing on the main stage before Bastille began their headline set last year. Will describes this “having the whole festival singing-a-long to every song in my set before Bastille came onstage was magical. That’s really a common theme to all my Blissfields memories; magic, the whole place is built on pure love and that creates such a magical atmosphere onsite, simply one of the best festivals in the UK”.

In keeping with the Wild Side theme to Blissfields this year, Will was asked ‘if you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?’ His response: If I was an animal I’d be an Aardvark simply for the alphabetical perks.

Will Chump

Gland Rock At The Wedgewood Rooms in Support of The Feel Yourself Campaign 5th July Headlined by 90′s Legends The Telescopes

The glorious Gland Rock belts down into Southsea 5th July in support of the Feel Yourself Campaign. This new Portsmouth music festival takes place across one day in one venue at the Wedgewood Rooms & Edge of the Wedge featuring some the finest bands across the land. Headlined by Creation Records (responsible for the releases of the likes of My Bloody Valentine, The Jesus & the Mary Chain and Oasis) 90’s legends The Telescopes bringing their visceral realm of psychedelic, shoegaze and dreampop along with the likes of God Damn, a mind blowing twosome creating an atomic, thundering racket of noise which is totally perplexing as to how two men can create such a sound that almost defies the laws of plausibility. Along with Bo Ningen, they’re possibly the best live band at the moment and can be found heavily across the festival circuit. Possibly tomorrow headliners but if you feel any seismic activity in Portsmouth, it’s likely due to God Damn.

The line up also sees the weird and wonderful punks Claw Marks fresh from their Sexbeat release (Eagulls/White Lung) and UK tour with Fat White Family as well as scuzz pop duo Playlounge, punk quartet Human Hair, electronic two piece AK/DK, indie/post punk  and and Playlounge as well as some of the best locals in the area. Carefully curated, taking quality over quantity the line-up sees thrash duo Rickyfitts who have released on bothStrong Island Recordings and Pie & Vinyl, local cult legends The Demons recently re-releasing ‘Contact High’ getting high praise such as being touted a classic by Backseat Mafia as well as dreampop, shoegaze duo who also create luscious surf like riffs, Wildest Dreams, psych-doom outfit Unknown Soldiers, the bombastic, blitz pop duo Curxes, Eloise Keating who delivers haunting dream pop and colourful indie electro pop 4 piece Deluxe Flamingos.

There will also be a raffle on the day to help raise money for the Feel Yourself Campaign. The raffle prizes include:

- My Dog Sighs Painted Canvas framed by Southsea Gallery
- Victorious Tickets
- Southsea Fest Tickets
- £25 Art Is Hard Records Voucher and Surprise Test Pressing
- Unique Pompey Calendar and David James Painting by Official PFC Artist
- Strong Island Swag
- Pie and Vinyl Swag
- Artwork by amazing local artists (such as mynameisleila and m-one)
- plus much more…

You can listen to the playlist below and tickets can be purchased for merely £10 HERE or on the day, availability permitting.

Gland Rock Poster

Delight: Zombie Summer Bash 2014

Who says you can only get zombiefied on Halloween, not the team as Delight anyway. Tonight is the Delight: Zombie Summer Bash!

As well as the usual alternative tunes there will be outdoor activities like brain volleyball, legless limbo, intestine-twister, zombie hula contests and loads of FREE inflatables in the mosh pit. With prizes given for the best efforts, don’t be shy and go all out with your outfit. I would personally love to hear that someone was creative enough to turn up as a Cranberry.

Find out more information on the Facebook Event Page HERE.


Free Community Funding Workshops by Fratton Big Local

Fratton Big Local are putting on free drop-in workshops at Fratton Community Centre on Thursday 3rd July to help local groups apply for up to £10,000 of Awards for All funding. The one hour workshops will start at 10.30am, 1.30pm and 6.30pm and will cover the small grants programme of the National Lottery:

“We want to fund projects which address the issues, needs and aspirations of local communities and people. We will fund a wide range of community projects aimed at developing skills, improving health, revitalising the local environment and enabling people to become more active citizens”.

Funding is available for activities that will benefit the community, including:

- Putting on an event, activity or performance
- Buying new equipment or materials
- Running training courses
- Setting up a pilot project or starting up a new group
- Carrying out special repairs or conservation work
- Paying expenses for volunteers, costs for sessional workers or professional fees
- Transport costs

Check the flyer below for more information and

Free Community Funding Workshops by Fratton Big Local

Blissfields 2014 Preview #9 | Fauxlo by Sophie Perryer

Today’s Blissfields preview features Electro Swing DJ, DJ Fauxlo (FOH-LOH). Fauxlo says of her entry into DJing ‘in my second year of university I was in the middle of a house party, and the DJ dropped an Electro Swing remix of the Jungle Book song ‘I Wanna Be Like You’. It pretty much blew my mind with how cool it was, and how it effortlessly got everyone moving.’

Fauxlo’s influences are wildly diverse and have grown up with her, ranging from Blink-182 and Linkin Park to System of a Down and Netsky. She’s currently listening to ‘glitchy/trippy/unusual stuff’ and says the Bonobo’s Black Sands album saved her degree! This summer, as well as Blissfields, you’ll find her at the Roundhouse, where she’s an Associate Artist, and playing a bunch of ‘mahoosive house parties’. In the past, this rising star has also supported Benga, Sigma, and Blissfields favourites, Dub Pistols.

2014 will be Fauxlo’s first year at Blissfields, and she says ‘the fact that I get to DJ out of a bus is amazing – earlier this year I got to play out of the back of a pick-up truck, so who knows what’s next!’ Her must-see acts for the festival include TCTS, Kidnap Kid, Snakehips, all of whom can be found in the Hustle Den, as well as the Blisscotecque headliners Monki and Éclair Fifi.

In keeping with the Wild Side theme to Blissfields this year, Fauxlo was asked ‘if you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?’ Her response: ‘I am a self-professed crazy cat lady, but I’m not sure I’d be a cat… I’m kinda clumsy, small, always stay up late, and have big hair and large eyes – with that in mind, I’d probably have to be pygmy owl. Look them up – seriously. They are adorable.’

Find DJ Fauxlo on Facebook and Twitter @fauxlouk.


Strong Island Calendar 2015 #SIC2015

Our 2015 Calendar is starting to take shape, the quality of the submissions this year is really high yet again, which is making the job of selecting a short list very difficult.

If you’ve taken a photo that you’d like to submit then you can email your submission via If you’ve taken a photo on Instagram that you’d like to submit for consideration you just need add the hashtag #SIC2015. There are no limits to how many you submit, the only rule is that the image must be relevant to Portsmouth.

Along with Instagram this year 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.

Strong Island Calendar 2015

Here are a couple of snaps which I can confirm will be included in our 2015 Calendar.

Jon Neil Bandstand Low Res
Southsea Bandstand submerged in the storms. Photo by Jon Neil
Todd Lawton
Photo by Todd Lawton
Katie Harvey
Photo by Katie Harvey

Blissfields 2014 Preview #8 | Matt Jarvis by Sophie Perryer

The latest in our Blissfields’ Previews series features acoustic folk singer Matt Jarvis, who returns to the festival for his second year. I was lucky enough to catch one of Matt’s two sets in the Acoustic tent in 2013, and it was undoubtedly one of my personal highlights of the weekend, an opinion clearly shared by his audience; Jarvis wove magic through his lyrics and stunned them to silence with beautiful melodies. He says of last year ‘the atmosphere was perfect, with a very quiet and respectful audience’.

Whilst he’ll be keeping all the best bits of last year’s set, Matt’s been writing plenty of new material for his fans this year; he describes the new songs as having ‘a much more grown up, and less angsty vibe’, and says ‘I can’t wait to share them’, cementing my opinion of him as one of those rare artists who is writing for himself just as much as his audience.

For those who just can’t wait until Blissfields to hear Matt, Strong Island have recently featured Matt’s new venture ‘Big Child Man Child’, and you can find all the information on this collaborative project HERE. For Post-Bliss fans who can’t get enough of Matt’s laid-back sound, you can also find him at Victorious Festival and Southsea Fest this summer.

Finally, in keeping with the Wild Side theme to Blissfields this year, Matt was asked ‘if you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?’ His response: ‘I would be a monkey. No question. I’ve always been a great climber of things, which is a talent that gets you almost nowhere in life. I’ve also been compared many times to Mowgli, of Jungle Book fame, who is about as monkey as a young boy can get.’

Matt Jarvis can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @mjarvismusic.

‘The Fleeting Sound Of Bottled Silence’
Matt Jarvis

Strong Island Sounds Podcast with Longlive Radio Episode 20

It is Friday lunchtime and Charlie is back with the 20th episode of Longlive Radio for the Strong Island Sounds podcast:

This weeks show has a handful of Jimi Hendrix covers, from Rod Stewart, Booker T and more. There’s also some other great tunes from Jurassic 5, Jim Jones Revue, Sandy Denny and Stevie Wonder. This week’s gem from Sam’s selection box is from Townes Van Zandt.


01) Concrete Schoolyard – Jurassic 5
02) Angel – Rod Stewart
03) Collision Boogie – The Jim Jones Revue
04) Rolling Sea – Vetiver
05) Foxy Lady – Booker T. & The MG’s
06) Doshpuluurum – Yat-Kha
07) Check Out My New Jesus – Joy Zipper
08) The Wind Cries Mary – Robyn Hitchcock
09) Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold – Townes Van Zandt
10) No More Sad Refrains – Sandy Denny
11) Purple Haze – Dion
12) Girl Like You – Edwyn Collins
13) The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp – Rotary Connection
14) Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding – Jesse Winchester
15) Another Star – Stevie Wonder

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.

Strong Island Sounds Podcast with Longlive Radio Episode 20

Matthew Maber Street Photography on Inspired Eye

Local photographer Matt Maber has for some years been out and about in the city streets capturing the places and people of the city with his digital and 35mm cameras. Street photography as a photographic discipline requires a quick eye, quicker shutter, a sixth sense for being in the right place at the right time and a fair bit of courage too. Some of photography’s most inspirational names from the past found their craft to be in the middle of things, photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank & Leonard Freed who helped define a creative activity that still is as strong as ever.

Matt has been out documenting the fun, sad & raw side of the city for a long time and photography website Inspired Eye recently put up an interview finding out more about his practice, give it a read HERE and see more of Matt’s photography at:

Below are a few photos of Matt’s, all copyright of Matt Maber.

Matthew Maber Street Photography (1)

Matthew Maber Street Photography (2)

Matthew Maber Street Photography (3)

Matthew Maber Street Photography (4)

Design a Southsea Postcard for Feel Yourself Campaign and go to Victorious Festival

Feel Yourself Campaign and Victorious Festival are collaborating to give YOU a chance to win a pair of tickets to this year’s festival happening on Southsea Common, plus in the process do your bit to help raise awareness for breast & testicular cancer.

All you need to do is design a postcard for Southsea:
- A design that takes inspiration from Southsea’s past & present
- Design(s) must be illustrations (not photographs) and must be high resolution, standard A6 size, 105mm x148mm + 3mm bleed (all edges)

All entries must be emailed to by midday on Friday 1st of August 2014 as a PDF, or if your artwork is A4 size or under you may take it to Southsea Gallery by the same date to be converted to digital.

The 3 winning designs will be reproduced as postcards that can be purchased at this year’s festival in the Feel Yourself Beach Area. Get involved.

Southsea Postcard

New Menu At The Aspex Gallery

Say what? The Aspex Gallery cafe is now selling bánh mì as part of their new menu? Where else in Southsea can you get that, with free wifi, encapsulated in what can only be described as a hive of creativity? If you are yet to drop into Aspex solely for food and drink, then now is the time. More details here.

aspex menu1 copy

aspex menu2 copy




Blissfields 2014 Preview #7 | Bellyeyesmile By Sophie Perryer

Today’s preview is Bellyeyesmile, who return to Blissfields after last years slot on the Bradley Bubble stage in 2013, which the band called ‘the hottest gig of our lives’. Undoubtedly that was partly due to the scorchingly hot weather, but also came courtesy of their frenzied, maniacal, high-energy sound, which is wholly immersive for the audience. The track ‘Blown’ from their Boneyards EP, released last year, is a particular highlight, as the band showcases their ability to build tension to a dramatic climax.

Calling themselves ‘a maelstrom of Prog, Punk and Psychedelic’, the band have their roots firmly in Germany, and cite their initial influences as ‘Krautrock’ including bands such as ‘Can and Kraftwerk’. However, their influences have diversified over the last few years, and now include British bands such as Pink Fairies and Killing Joke, as well as Neil Young and the Beach Boys.

Bellyeyesmile are currently in Germany at Tramziet Festival, but are very much looking forward to Blissfields, saying ‘playing at an event that you would enjoy even if you weren’t playing is a truly awesome perk.’ Their top tip for the weekend? Melt Yourself Down, who they also cite as one of their own influences, is their most anticipated show of the festival.

Finally, in keeping with the wildlife theme, I asked the band ‘if you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?’ Their answer: ‘We’re quite into octopuses at the moment. They can squeeze into tight spaces.’

Post-Bliss new fans of Bellyeyesmile can find them on Facebook, Twitter @Bellyeyesmile or live at the Cellars at Eastney on the 18th of July.


Review and Photos of Portsmouth Festivities Spice Island Art Trail 2014

For the second year running the Spice Island Art Trail this Sunday saw dozens of artists take over different historic buildings in Old Portsmouth as part of this year’s Portsmouth Festivities. The day began in the morning with the doors opening at Portsmouth Cathedral and the Royal Naval Club & Royal Albert Yacht Club which became home to 26 artists from a wide range of practices including photography, sculpture, illustration, design, painting, papercraft and much more. Becket Hall by Portsmouth Cathedral was home to student work (GCSE, AS and A-Level) from Portsmouth Grammar School, Admiral Lord Nelson, Ryde School and Cowplain Community School covering a diverse, creative collection of artwork. As well as the artwork on display inside down at The Hot Walls were local street artists Lex & Mimic, Fark and Dharma77 painting a set of panels in the shade of the arches.

Through the day a group of judges representing aspex Gallery, Art Space Portsmouth, Portsmouth Guildhall and Strong Island were looking for seven different artists to be selected for an exhibition at Portsmouth Guildhall plus a first place prize. For the schools there were also first, second and third prizes for students too.

The trail for me began with the cool shelter from the hot morning sun of Portsmouth Cathedral with initially the triptych of mixed media by Beth Davis-Hofbauer, a series focusing on the stages of coming to terms with a sense of comfort with the self.

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Beth Davis-Hofbauer
Beth Davis-Hofbauer

The first of the many 3d artists involved in the art trail was next, local artist Lyndon Richards with his painted slate paintings and his incredible brick/house paintings. Each finely detailed brick house is painted for the owners of the historic Portsmouth homes and together made for a ‘street’ full of local heritage in a creative new form. With a turn of the corner was Drayton based paper/3d artist Anita Bell, whose work with free-stitching and paper dye showed fine detailing and a sense of open creative expression. Close by was Making Space resident fine artist painter Agata Wojcieszkiewicz, with a series of passionate and compassionate paintings of herself and her father, rich in colour.

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Lyndon Richards
Lyndon Richards

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Anita Bell
Anita Bell

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Anita Bell
Anita Bell

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Agata Wojcieszkiewicz
Agata Wojcieszkiewicz

The far side of the Cathedral was home to many different photographers and painters, too many to detail here but all with great images capturing scenes around Portsmouth, I particularly liked a photo by Danish but now Portsmouth based photographer Fie Hansigne Petersen, with a model’s hand coated in sugar, touching on themes of addiction and infection.

I walked out the other side of the Cathedral through to Beckett Hall which was packed with student work from schools in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. The work was of a high level, with bold graphic design, passionate paintings, sculpture and much, much more.

The third venue for the Art Trail was the Royal Naval Club & Royal Albert Yacht Club, a building packed with the history of the clubs and their associated members, going back well over 100 years. Nestling amongst these historic surroundings were artists based on different floors. In the bar area on the ground floor were the works of three artists and photographers, the first were a selection of abstract paintings by Amy Owen with a clean and fresh palette, giving a sense of the sea. Next to Amy’s work was the incredibly detailed pencil drawings by Kevin Hayward. Kevin talked me through his lengthy drawing process, building up layers and layers of graphite to form photo-realistic works of animals, including a recent commission by an Isle of Wight zoo of their tiger. Reflected in the large mirror were the large scale, long exposure/multiple exposure photos by Fiona Harvey.

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Amy Owen
Amy Owen

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Kevin Hayward
Kevin Hayward

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Fiona Harvey
Fiona Harvey

Across the ground floor was another room full of artists and their work (too many to mention them all, sadly). Paintings and linoprints by Peter Jackson and Chris Wood were fantastic. Finely detailed portraits in pencil by Wil Stevenson & the carefully stitched rigging of HMS Warrior by Jessica Taylor were inspiring and it was great to also talk through the creative processes on both of these intricate pieces of work. Also on the ground floor were illustrator & designer Kate Bishop with her colourful Kroma prints and jewellery plus the photography and print based work of artist Thomas Robson.

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Chris Wood
Chris Wood

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Jessica Taylor
Jessica Taylor

Also located on the ground floor was painter & sculptor Kas Williams, who was surrounded by her highly creative 3d paper sculptures made from old books. Each piece was hand shaped and cut and formed a unique object.

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Kas Williams

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Kas Williams

The floor upstairs was also full of too many fantastic artists to be able to mention them all but the atmospheric and abstract paintings of Sehila Craft caught the eye with their colour and questioning forms. The delicate and almost playful insects and spiders formed from old electronic components, PCBs, bulbs and pieces of old jewellery produced by artist Julie Alice Chappell were fantastic. The synergy of the entomological forms and the lines of copper & colour of resistors were as beautiful as they were fun. Speaking of playful, the illustration work of Lauren Hunt was also great to discover. Aaaaand…speaking of discovering, tucked away in the wonderful library was artist & painter Peter Jarvis whose structural paintings were a stunning blend of architectural plan-like detail and washes of atmospheric watercolour. As well as the work on display Peter was painting on-site too, when not engaging in conversation with every visitor who wanted to discover more of his work and his artistic process.

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Julie Alice Chappell
Julie Alice Chappell

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Lauren Hunt
Lauren Hunt

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Peter Jarvis
Peter Jarvis

Spice Island Art Trail 2014 - Peter Jarvis
Peter Jarvis

With the judges given a very difficult task of choosing winners, it was tough, but the overall winner in the end was Kas Williams who with six other artists chosen will exhibit at the Guildhall very soon. The schools first place winner was Jessie Colman from Ryde School.

If you want to find out more about the Spice Island Art Trail and Portsmouth Festivities visit:

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Photos from Head Jam 2014

For the second year running Head Mens Hairdressing, Strong Island and My Dog Sighs (this year with Lex Luthor) put on the Head Jam street art event on Albert Road in Southsea. The yard out the back of Head and the Strong Island HQ had last year’s artwork covered during last week and Saturday saw local artists My Dog Sighs, Los Dave, M-One, Lex Luthor, Mimic, Stu Linfield, I am Posy, freakSTATIC, Midge and Samo get involved with new artwork on all of the walls plus the new sculpture too. Extra artwork is also being added today by My Name is Leila. A huge thank you to all the artists and to everyone who popped by throughout the day.

Check some of the photos from the day below, you can see a load more on our Flickr (which is a growing archive of our photography over the last 6 years) or on our Facebook page and if you want to pop in and have a look visit Head at 53 Albert Road.

Southsea Comedy Festival Competition | Win Two Tickets

The first ever Southsea Comedy Festival opens with Eddie Izzard performing his most recent show ‘Force Majeure’ on 31st July and 1st August. We have a pair of tickets to give away for the Thursday 31st July performance. All you have to do to win this prize is email with your answer to the following three questions.

1) What is the name of the character voiced by Eddie in Cars 2?
2) In which American city did Eddie begin his 2014 tour Force Majeure?
3) For which charity did Eddie run an incredible 43 marathons in 51 days?!

The deadline for entries will be midnight Monday 21st July with the winner being announced Tuesday 22nd in the evening.

If you don’t want to risk missing out then Southsea Comedy Festival tickets are available by calling 0844 847 2362 and online at You can follow the Southsea Comedy Festival on Twitter @SouthseaComedy.

Eddie Izzard Southsea Comedy Festival Logo


Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection

We’ve been exceptionally busy over at Strong Island HQ for the best part of 2014 so far and the latest Strong Island Clothing Co range has been in development for some time. We are now proud to announce the launch of our latest line of tee and crew designs for the Summer. This is the biggest run we have done to date and we wanted to ensure it was a really strong range so didn’t want to rush it.

We have a wide range of new colours and designs including our first 2 colour print on the popular Refuse to Sink and a return to our second tee style back in 2010 with a backprint (this time in navy) in the classic Strong Island logo. We also have a seriously strong collaboration with University of Portsmouth graduate and award winning letterform designer Andy Lethbridge AKA Hand Type. These are something truly special and we’re really stoked how they came out, the detail in the print really reflects the brush strokes of Andy’s work. We will have more on Hand Type and the development of these designs on Strong Island soon in a full interview. We also have pocket tees with the new Down the Hatch design which form part of something we are keeping under our hats for bit…some old favourites have been revisited too with new colourways and 2 new graphic tees as well. Our latest crew retains the same quality as before featuring ribbed side panels, a back neck loop, deep cuffs, a double v-insert on the neckline and raglan sleeves but with new striped cuffs. With a more contemporary and slimmer fit than most sweatshirts it’s certainly a more premium line. As always all our tees and crews are hand screenprinted in East London by the mighty Lovenskate, including the anchor signoff on the back and detail on the inside neck.

We have a few more mini launches coming up over the next few weeks including more tees, something for the cyclists out there, some very special hand produced items from Poland using original 1940′s techniques and also something to lounge on in summer and keep you warm in the winter. Not to mention another very special artist collaboration too.

All of the tees and crews from the main, initial drop will be available this weekend during Head Jam at Head Hairdressing, 53 Albert Road, Southsea (weather permitting). They will then go online in Shop Ahoy next week.

For now please enjoy our latest Lookbook shot by Strong Island Media over at Dell Quay, Chichester. The perfect day to go for a wander around the marina, fields and woodlands with a few cheeky beers at the Crown & Anchor.

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (1)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (2)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (3)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (4)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (5)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (6)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (7)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (8)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (9)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (10)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (11)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (12)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (13)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (14)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (15)

Lookbook for Strong Island Clothing Co Summer 2014 Collection (16)

Strong Island, Lex Luthor & My Dog Sighs present Head Jam 2014 – Saturday 19th July

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.

Old paint on a wall

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (1)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (2)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (3)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (4)

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (5)

Head Jam, photo by Paul Gonella

Photos: Matt Maber

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Strong Island Blissfields 2014 Review By Sophie Perryer and Grace Aquilina – Day Three

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.





Daniel O'Neill Blissfields 2014
Cosmo Sheldrake @ The Hustle Den
Beans On Toast Presents… At The Larch Stage
Chlöe Howl @ The Wild Stage
Daniel O'Neill Blissfields 2014
Laurel @ The Hustle Den
Daniel O'Neill Blissfields 2014 Laurel
Laurel @ The Hustle Den

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth – Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’

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.

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth - Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’ (1)

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’.

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth - Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’ (2)

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.

The History of Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth - Cornelia Parker’s ‘Thirty Pieces of Silver’ (3)

All images courtesy of the Aspex Visual Arts Trust Ltd. and the artist.


Local Photographer – Eamon Lane

A recent arrival to Portsmouth, Eamon Lane has been out and about the city recently shooting photos on the street and at local events such as Love Your Bike. Below are a few examples of Eamon’s photography, visit I Love Slugs to see more.

Created Local – Inksquatch

Here’s an interesting little blog I stumbled upon. Inksquatch are a collective of Portsmouth based artists, illustrators and designers that comprises of four people working on anything from books, maps, sculptures, bags, badges, you name it from the sound of things. Check out their BLOG and WEBSITE for more info.


Southsea Flats by Cat

Fog Lights!

I love fog, even more so at night time because all the street lights are on and it’s like this weird eerie zombie town. People appear out of no where and even cars creep up on you before you notice them in the deathly silence of the fog. I watched, or should I say waited, as the the Hovercraft came over from The Isle of Wight. I could hear the roar of the engines for five minutes till I could actually see the craft as it pulled on to shore. Spooky.

My little point and shoot isn’t much cop in low light fog but there are a few more over on my Flickr


The now defunct Brickwoods Brewery was Portsmouth’s largest local brewer before it’s final demise in 1983. Many old pubs (and many houses that are converted old pubs) still have tiles and signs with the old brewery’s name on so in a way, it still lives on, just in the city’s background. Keep your eyes peeled. You can find out more about the company here too.

I came across these amazing beermats via Google, some interesting designs. Notice the sun motif…


Aerial Photographs of Portsmouth

Webb Aviation have hundreds of aerial photographs to purchase from all over the country. Click the link to see the Portsmouth Aerial Gallery and view photos from over Gosport looking across Gunwharf, all the way down to the Hayling Ferry.

aerial photograph by

aerial photograph by