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Jon Adams Performance Piece ‘Games with the Water Horse’ at New Theatre Royal

Portsmouth artist Jon Adams is a ‘lab associate’ at New Theatre Royal, which will be hosting his latest performance piece Games with the Water Horse on the evening of Saturday 30th January. Jon works across platforms using sound, drawing, written word, photographic manipulation, installation and more through ‘art in public’. His work references his Asperger’s and dyslexia weaving in fragments of autobiography, science and hidden metaphor.

Building on Jon’s experiences, learning and encouragement from Sir Peter Brook and cast of ‘Valley of Astonishment’, Games with the Water Horse is a performance instillation piece. At its heart, it is an exploration of consciousness, life story, art forms, and neurodiverse thinking. The piece involves Jon standing within a circle reading 60 ‘minutes of an hour’ which are scattered once read. These minutes interweave and explore 6 personal stories over multiple dates and times but which are all intimately connected. The performance journey calls on Japanese metaphor and imagery. There is an overarching imagery of water that pervades the piece, the title, for example, refers to the hippocampus, mythical water beasts but also the section of the brain responsible for memory and PTSD.

A two-part performance; the first half will see Jon perform his readings and the second-half will involve a ‘memory man’ Q&A with the audience. Before the performance the audience will be asked to remember a minute number they are interested in and Jon will recount the story behind the number.

Games with the Water Horse premiered at Venice Biennale 2015 and showcased at Turner Contemporary November 2015 during their ‘Risk’ season. Tickets are only £10 and available at the box office and online:

www.newtheatreroyal.com

Jon Adams Performance Piece 'Games with the Water Horse' at New Theatre Royal

Created Local – Instagram @JonathanPink

Welcome to the first of a new Strong Island feature where we are looking to celebrate some of our favourite Instagram photographers who have links with our city. The first of which is Jonathan Pink who you can follow yourself on Instagram as @JonathanPink.

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

I haven’t always been local to Portsmouth, but always visited and taken a keen interest in the city, it’s history and connection to the sea. I moved to Southsea two years ago after regularly visiting the city, getting to know it’s quirks and scratching the surface of what it’s about. I’m a graphic designer and commute to my job out of the city, I live with my partner and Miniature Dachshund name Hugo.

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

I always use my iPhone6 for my Instagram photography. For me, Instagram is that instant capture of a moment in my life and the things I see. The phone makes it quick, easy and accessible.

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

Being a graphic designer, I consider myself a creative thinker and have always enjoyed different expressions of this. Photography being one. I own a Canon digital SLR which I use occasionally or for specific shoots, events or days out. I’ve never been trained in photography, but have naturally picked up the functionality and use of a camera on my way, capturing a great shot is something which come s little more naturally being a designer.

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@jonathanpink

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

I take photographs for myself primarily, the instant enjoyment of finding, capturing and posting a photo of my everyday life. That said, my Instagram account is public, so there is a nature of enjoying other photography and them enjoying what I have taken.

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

Not coming from a city on the sea, I genuinely appreciate the shoreline, sea and walking our dog. The constant change in weather, seasons and activity makes this space an interesting one to live beside and take photographs of. From the summer sunsets, eerie fog, busy shipping lanes to the stormy solent. This space gives so much to me.

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

Instagram photographers include the Isle of Wight based photographer Chad Powell (@isleofwightmilkyway), from New York Cubby Graham (@CubbyGraham) and locally based tattoo artist Louise Bush (@Lapin_Lou).

I generally enjoy a mixture of photographers, especially on Instagram. Those who inspire me, through their subject matter, style and general approach to life/photography and content different to my own.

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Of course you can also find Strong Island on Instagram under @StrongIslandUK and @StrongIslandClothingCo.

D-Day Museum Receives £4m From Heritage Lottery Fund for Transformation Project

Southsea’s D-Day Museum located just by Southsea Castle is in the process of drawing together £4.9 million for a dramatic transformation project. The museum is Britain’s only dedicated museum to the D-Day landings and the direct events that preceded and followed and attracts visitors from all over the World to the city. The building for the museum was originally built in the 1980s for the 40th anniversary, to hold displays and artifact and to become home to the epic Overlord Embroidery. The role of museums has considerably changed since then with what they do and offer, as such the D-Day Museum needs to be redeveloped for the 21st century.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has donated £4m to the D-Day Museum for the transformation project, on top of other fundraising (including a large sum from Victorious Festival) that now means that the museum now need to find a further £170,000 of match-funding to make the project a reality. The transformation project will include building works to create new galleries that will tell the story D-Day – from the planning and build up to the day itself – using objects, interactive material and the perspectives of people who were alive at the time. The museum’s activity and events programme will also be transformed by the funding, creating a centre of learning for D-Day, with the funding total including money for events to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in 2019.

“The new International Museum of D-Day will be a fantastic addition to the world-class visitor offer in Portsmouth. Transforming the D-Day Museum will establish the museum as the national centre that the scale and significance of the D-Day story deserves – with exhibitions that truly engage and excite audiences now and into the future – and to inspire interest in and a greater understanding of what happened and why D-Day is still relevant today. Using the words and perspectives of the people who took part on both sides – military and also the French civilians – and the museum’s iconic and evocative collections, the D-Day Museum will bring the story to life for this and future generations. We will create an inspiring, ‘must-see’ environment, where everyone feels welcome – from school children to academics, families to military history enthusiasts. We will work with schools and youth organisations to ensure our learning programmes inspire young people.”
– Jane Mee, Project Director, D-Day Museum Transformation project, Portsmouth City Council

The museum will close in October 2016 and reopen in late 2017, in good time for D-Day 75 commemorations in June 2019. If you haven’t been to the museum, or haven’t visited recently, it is well worth a trip…the Overlord Embroidery alone is an incredible piece of craftwork with a fantastic story behind it. If you are in any way interested in craft, it is a must visit. The current displays are also packed with interesting objects, machinery plus uniforms, signs and more, lots to discover if you are interested in heritage, fashion and design.

Find out more about the D-Day Museum and the transformation project at their website:

www.ddaymuseum.co.uk












Valentine’s Day Massacre 2016

What kind of Valentine are you? Candlelit dinner, roses and romance? Or New York chili, cask ales and acrimonious anecdotes?

Whichever your preference, consider something a little more alternative this year. Choose beer. Choose cheese. Choose rage. Choose the Valentine’s Day Massacre to celebrate this February 14th.

Portsmouth Bookfest kicks off with an evening of vitriol, vengeance and Wessbier with the talented writers and musicians of Portsmouth Writers Hub who brought you Day of the Dead.

Stories and songs from 6pm, Sunday 14 February 2016. Located upstairs at The Wave Maiden, 36 Osborne Road, PO5 3LT. Entry to the event is £6 (£4 concessions).

Find out all the official details on the Facebook event HERE.

valentine's day massacre

‘Dwellings’ a solo exhibition by When We Were Cows

John Ainsworth, 40, is a local man, originally from Blackpool who has a fascination with entomology and birds nests and this fascination has culminated in some incredible art work that is completely new and different. His work will be exhibited at the King’s ship Tattoo shop on Marmion Road, Southsea.

The work John creates is made entirely of materials that he has foraged for or collected, making it a work of recycled or natural materials.

One example John used was that of a moth he found whilst visiting Mexico last summer. An unusual, fragile and delicate but beautiful piece to include in one of his creations. Other items including birds nests were gathered on hikes around the Isle of wight and it is this process that makes Johns work so special. It is the gathering that is important to him, giving each piece of artwork meaning, history and a sense of personalism.

Dwellings will open for a private view on 26th February at 7pm and will be available to the public onwards with prints and originals for sale.

You call follow John on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook for more updates on upcoming exhibitions and new work.

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Portsmouth Summer Show 2016

Portsmouth Summer Show is back and it’s even bigger than last year! This year’s show will be twice as fun at King George Playing Field, Portsmouth, spread over two days – Saturday 30th April – Sunday 1st May, spring bank holiday weekend.

With headline performances from Britain’s Got Talent dance crew Diversity, Scouting for Girls, 5ive, The Hoosier’s, X-Factor winner Sam Bailey and over fifty local bands, DJs and performers, it’s a show not to be missed.

The show brings not only live entertainment, but a huge variety of attractions and fun for all the family including: a fairground, petting zoo, face painting, market stalls, arts and crafts, dance, street food, bars and that’s not all!

Last years show was a sell-out success with over 15,000 visitors, so be sure to get your ticket early.

Adult standard Early Bird Ticket £10 (£15 from 1st April)
5-15 years £5
Under 5’s £1

Buy online at www.portsmouthsummershow.co.uk

Portsmouth Summer Show 2016

Start Your Business 2016 on Saturday 6th February

Start Your Business 2016 is a start-up community summit for people in Portsmouth considering starting their own business. It is a place to interact with each other as well as local support providers to share ideas and experiences and support one another in their start-up endeavours. The event is separated in to two parallel streams consisting of six 20 minute sessions each – with talks and presentations on topics such as digital, marketing, retail, business support in the city, ideas pitch and social entrepreneurship.

The event on Saturday 6th February is run by the University of Portsmouth but is open to everyone, you can drop in at anytime between 12am and 2:30pm on the day and talk to market stall holders or take part in any of the free parallel learning sessions being offered throughout the day.

The events on the day include:

DIGITAL BUSINESS – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RUNNING AN ONLINE BUSINESS
“Business is easy, especially now you can do it all online” – but is it? Hear from seasoned professionals about the ups and downs, the pitfalls and benefits of running an online business.

MARKETING – WHAT MUST I DO, WHAT COULD I DO?
Spoken to a marketing firm? Been told you need a logo, website, social media presence, press releases, key messages…the list goes on. If I am just starting out, what do I really have to have and what could I leave until later? This session should give you the answers.

RETAIL – STANDING OUT FROM THE CROWD
These days there are thousands of cottage industries from food to clothing all hoping one day to be the next M&S. Hear retail success stories and learn more about how to stay in the game.

ROUND TABLES – ASK THE EXPERT, NETWORK AND GET A PERSONAL INTERACTION
Got a number of fiddly questions? Tax return, copyright, when’s a contract a contract, do I need a mentor . . .etc? In this session you’ll be free to sit and ask direct questions of experts and move around to make sure you get all of your questions answered.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE – STAYING SUPPORTED IN THE CITY
Business can be lonely and there isn’t always a colleague to talk to. Wondered if you can have the benefits of advice and support and be a sole trader. Hear how businesses are supporting each other with events, advice, support and money across industries and see what is right for you.

WILL IT WORK – PITCH YOUR IDEA TO THE EXPERTS AND THOSE THAT HAVE DONE IT BEFORE
Got an idea? Want a bit more confidence before you throw your heart and soul into it? You can pitch your idea for five minutes and get five minutes instead feedback from our panel of entrepreneurs and business people and gauge whether you’re ready to get going.

HOW TO BE A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR
It’s a popular question with answers so varied that often there’s a lot to know before you start your life as a social entrepreneur. Hear from people who have done it and are going strong about what it means to be a social entrepreneur and how they achieved success.

We’ll be speaking on the day in relation to retail, from online through to bricks & mortar focusing on what we have done in recent years with Strong Island Clothing Co.

You find out more and register for the day over at:

www.startup-portsmouth.co.uk

Start Your Business 2016

Last Few Days to Take Part in Creative Census

We’re coming down to the last few days when people can get involved with the Creative Census, a project run by Strong Island and Claire Sambrook with the support of Portsmouth City Council. The project aims to try and engage with as many people & businesses in the Portsmouth area who work in the creative industries. We are also hoping people & businesses outside Portsmouth (but who work in the city often) will also get involved too.

To take part in the Creative Census you or your business/charity/organisation just need to work in the creative sector (e.g. photographer, illustrator, designer, craft, architect, songwriter, fashion designer, etc. – see the website for the full list) and be based and/or work in the city: from a volunteer all the way through to a large agency or organisation.

Deadline to take part is the end of January.

It takes a few minutes to complete and will go to help us build (for the first time) a snapshot of statistics and information that we hope can really show how Portsmouth and Southsea are on the national creative map.

To take part simply visit the website: www.creativecensus.co.uk

Creative Census Portsmouth – Measuring the creative temperature of the city of Portsmouth

David Bowie Print By Lorna Apps-Woodland

The sad passing of David Bowie recently drove people all over the World to create artwork that helped share their personal gratitude for the inspiration taken from a lifetime & career of creativity. Local illustrator Lorna Apps-Woodland has produced a print in her own collage/paste-up style of the great man. Giclee prints will be available soon, with 25% of proceeds to be donated to Cancer Research UK. Each one is printed to order for only £25, you can order yours over at the Create by LAW Facebook page.

David Bowie Print By Lorna Apps-Woodland

Crowdfunding for Korporate Solo Exhibition in Southsea

Taking on a solo exhibition for an artist is a serious commitment to their practice, with a dedication of time and an investment of money in the materials required to create the work to place on show. Street artist Korporate is gearing up for his first solo in Southsea with a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the materials for his work. If you came along to the first Head Jam (a street art event held by Head, My Dog Sighs and Strong Island) you would have seen Korp at work with his hugely complex stencil piece and his infamous ‘worms’.

Korporate broke his funding target this weekend but there is still a chance to show your support and get involved with some awesome rewards. You can find out more at Korporate’s Kickstarter page.

Looking forward to the exhibition happening in the spring.

Head Jam Photos by Simon Rutter (3)
Photo by Simon Rutter.

Head Jam, photo by Matt Maber (3)
Photo by Matt Maber.

‘Twelve’ Video Installation Exhibition by Melanie Manchot at Aspex

Twelve is Melanie Manchot’s major new multi-channel video installation exploring the intimate stories, rituals, repetitions and ruptures of lives spent in addiction and recovery. The exhibition opened at Aspex on the 23rd January 2016 as part of a national tour. Over the last three years Manchot has worked in dialogue with twelve people in recent recovery from substance misuse, in rehabilitation communities in Liverpool, Oxford and London. Twelve is directly informed by their personal written and oral testimonies, creative conceptions and performances within the final works. Inspired by the visual acuity of renowned contemporary filmmakers, the work connects and collapses individual recollections in which everyday situations, events and activities are rendered dramatic or abstract, and infused with tragedy, pathos and humour.

'Twelve' Video Installation Exhibition by Melanie Manchot at Aspex (2)
(Still from one of the films)

Single sequences are shot as continuous takes, referencing iconic scenes from the films of Michael Haneke, Gus van Sant, Bela Tarr and Chantal Akerman – a ferry journey across the Mersey, a darkened room looking out on to an early morning street, a car wash, the cutting of daisies with small scissors, the obsessive cleaning of a floor – each provides the framework for reflections on remembered incidents and states of mind.

Melanie Manchot is a London based visual artist who works with photography, film, video and installation as part of a performative and participatory practice.

The exhibition runs until the 20th March, you can find out more information on the Aspex Website.

'Twelve' Video Installation Exhibition by Melanie Manchot at Aspex (1)

Andres Food Bar Relaunch

This weekend The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Frank Jonas cut the official opening ribbon for Osborne Road’s, relaunched food bar, ‘Andres‘.

With the doors opened and a queue of customers lined up outside for freshly ground coffee, homemade treats, delicious baguettes and tasty snacks.

The revamp of the oldest sandwich shop in Southsea looks amazing and the friendly and warm atmosphere inside is nothing shy of delightful. The family run feel and genuinely comforting attitude of all the staff make those lunch time stops or coffee runs kinder moments and it was great to see a local, independent business thriving.

Well done guys, the food bar looks great and the food was incredible!

To find out more about Andre’s Food Bar follow them on Twitter, Facebook or on Instagram and remember to stop in on your next visit to Southsea.

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Andres

Community Beach Cleanup on 6th February

Southsea Beachwatch are organising a beach cleanup for the 6th of February that is open to the public, for anyone who wants to come along and help remove waste and litter from the shoreline. If you want to pop along and get involved simply make your way down to Coffee Cup on Eastney Esplanade from 10am. All equipment provided and everyone welcome.

You can keep up to date with upcoming beach cleanups by giving Southsea Beachwatch a follow on Twitter.

DATE CHANGE ANNOUNCEMENT 16.03.16 – 6th Annual Strong Island Home Brew Competition

Due to unforeseen circumstances we are having to move the date back for the home brew competition to Wednesday 16th March 2016.  Apologies if this causes inconvenience for anyone, but on the plus side you’ll all have an additional month to refine and perfect your brews!  The evening will still be held at Meat & Barrel in Palmerston Road from 7pm with judging due to start at 7.30pm prompt.  The competition details are below for anyone who needs a reminder and we look forward to seeing you all for the competition evening in March.  Happy brewing!

The rules are the same as last year where we had our largest amount of entries and the strongest competition we’ve seen to date.  If it’s not broken then don’t fix it is our outlook and we’re hoping for more of the same this year!

We’ve had great success in the previous FIVE years with ALL winners going on to have their winning brews re-brewed by Irving & Co. Brewers and sold in a range of pubs in and around Portsmouth.

The judging panel will consist of Malcolm Irving from Irving & Co. Brewers in Portsmouth,  Stuart Ainsworth who is Landlord of the Leopold Tavern and Alan Thompson from home brew distributor and suppliers Get Brewing.

This year we are opting for a 2 categories again.  1st category will be the ale brew.  Whether you already are a home brewer or you really want to have a go for the first time and get involved, this is designed to make no boundaries for the brewer.  This category is made to really let the skills be shown of your home brewing talent.

The 2nd category will be the ‘Other’ category.  Lagers, Ginger Beers & Ciders for this one with the same rules as the 1st category regards to unrestricted brewing rules.

Your brews will be judged on:

  • TASTE
  • AROMA
  • COLOR
  • CLARITY
  • DRINKABILITY
  • NAME/PRESENTATION/LABEL

You can enter as many entries as you like either as an individual or a team.

Please provide 3 bottles of each entry for the judging panel.  Registration will start at 7pm.

Remote entries via other people is welcomed if you cannot attend the evening.

And don’t forget to drop by Elm Grove and check out Get Brewing for all your ingredients and equipment supplies!

Home Brew 2015

 

Home Brew 2015

Home Brew 2015

Home Brew 2015

Home Brew 2015

Home Brew 2015

Home Brew 2015

Home Brew 2015

Home Brew 2015

 

Turin Brakes Live at Pie & Vinyl

The awesome Turin Brakes will be returning to perform a free intimate gig at Pie & Vinyl on Wednesday 3rd February. The band previously performed in the shop back in October 2013 when it was just the single unit which to regular visitors seems like a lifetime ago!

Turin Brakes comprise of founding duo Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, as well as long-term collaborators Rob Allum and Eddie Myer. Lost Property is the band’s seventh studio album since their Mercury Music Prize nominated debut release The Optimist back in 1999.

The band will be performing from 7pm with the doors opening at 6:45pm. Entry on the night with be first come, first serve but there is a way to secure your place inside, you simply need to pre order the record here. Once purchased you will be invited to arrive earlier than advertised to collect your record and grab your spot near the front.

To stay up to date in the build up to the event get yourself onto the Facebook Event page here. You can also follow Turin Brakes on Facebook, Twitter @TurinBrakes and YouTube.

Turin Brakes

Pie & Vinyl by Sunny Lau
Pie & Vinyl by Sunny Lau

Strong Island Recordings – Treacherous Tides Vol 2 Feat Kassassin Street, Wyldest, Violet Swells & More

On the 19th February Strong Island Recordings release the follow up to the first Treacherous Tides Compilation from 2013. The latest compilation features a collection of our favourite acts from Portsmouth to Turkey, Glasgow, Australia and New Zealand. The album includes tracks featuring all things from psychedelia to stunning dream-pop gems and will be available via digital and a limited run of cassettes.

Kicking off the compilation is Southsea favourites, Kassassin Street, with their immense wall of sound, festival ready, psych-pop meets new-wave anthem ‘Radio Silence’. It’s great to get the guys on a release of ours being from our hometown.

From the opposite side of the world, ‘Gravity Wins Again’ from Tasmanian outfit Violet Swells who draw comparisons with Tame Impala’s sunshine tinted, psychedelic-pop.

Wyldest have recorded an exclusive track for the compilation with their own take on A-Ha’s ‘Sun Always Shines On TV’ giving it a fine coat of their signature shimmering dream-pop sound which will available as a Bandcamp & cassette exclusive.

Love LUV’s ‘Sold My Love’ is infectious, joyous, garage-pop mirroring the 60’s revival. New Zealanders MOSES ‘Opium’ is perfectly titled. It’s a beautiful, sedate, stone jam delving between the kaleidoscope rainbow like realms of psychedelia and shoegaze.

Until recently Love Hippies & Gangsters was a one man project but now the four piece consisting of Yiğit Bülbül, Dan Hale, Mikel Acosta and Sam Enthoven. Their track ‘Through Your Mind’ is a shower of guitars and a throwback to 60’s and 70’s psychedelia.

Tin Foil Astronaut’s ‘Without A Sound’ is a nod to the current Australian psychedelic movement sounding like it’s came straight out of Kevin Parker’s studio in Perth. It’s a true sun-soaked, psych-pop banger.

Closing out the compilation is Life Model’s ‘Enough (To Know) finally getting a full release. Channeling Slowdive, MBV and Cocteau Twins, it’s a visceral yet euphoric and beautiful sonic journey.

You can pre-order and listen to the the compilation on Bandcamp and also pre-order the cassette over on our Music Glue pages (as well as find exclusive bundle deals on both) and the compilation will also be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other digital and streaming outlets.

SIR Digi Square

I WAS THERE – FIVE SENSES Performance at Portsmouth Guildhall Tomorrow Night!

As part of Portsmouth Guildhall’s 125th birthday in 2015 Strong Island ran the I WAS THERE! project, collecting memories from Portsmouth people of their favourite live music moments throughout Portsmouth Guildhall’s history. Following on from the memory collection part of the project and the film that was produced and recently screened at the Guildhall, FIVE SENSES is the final stage of the project.

Strong Island Media and Old Salt Theatre have worked together with a group of young actors and performers from Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth to take many of these collected memories and bring them to life in a brand new stage performance. I WAS THERE – FIVE SENSES will be premiered on stage at Portsmouth Guildhall at 7:30pm tomorrow night (Thursday 21st January), with free tickets available from Portsmouth Guildhall box office in advance. This intimate performance brings to life many of the submitted memories we collected for the I WAS THERE! project, with scenes taking inspiration from events that occurred on the very same stage. The I WAS THERE film will also be screen just before the performance begins.

We’re very excited to have worked with Portsmouth Guildhall and Old Salt Theatre, with this being Strong Island’s first project involving theatre and live performance, we hope everyone can come along!

This event is FREE however you will need a ticket, to reserve a ticket please contact the Portsmouth Guildhall Box Office 02393 870200 or email: enquiries@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk

I WAS THERE - FIVE SENSES

Reading Between The Lines – Rex Domino at Drift

Reading Between The Lines has been going as a spoken word night on the Isle of Wight for over 2 years years now. They’ve also been lucky enough to host takeovers at a bunch of festivals too with headliners including the likes of Mark Grist, Joshua Idehen, JJ Bola and Rex Domino. The Reading Between The Lines residents have also gone on to perform at the likes of Glastonbury, Bestival, Isle of Wight Festival, Boomtown Fair and more.

Recently, the Reading Between The Lines residents banded together to form a collective that’s been touring the UK and doing all manner of shows, and generally shoving spoken word and poetry into places it really shouldn’t go. For 2016 Reading Between The Lines will now be also hitting up Southsea with a regular local night.

In February Reading Between The Lines will be dropping their first night at Drift, and welcoming back Rex Domino on the 7th. Rex is the spoken-word guise of Huw Olesker, and is amongst other things, the go-to MC for DJ Yoda, recently fronting Yoda’s new live project ‘The Breakfast of Champions’ who’ve been storming the main stages of festivals across Europe. You can find out more about Huw’s Rex Domino project in our exclusive interview with Rex/Huw at Bestival last year.

The night will also feature Tippers as a local resident for the Portsmouth shows, and they are keen to build a list of local poets and lyricists who’d be interested in performing on a semi-regular basis (so get in touch).

Check the Facebook event for all the details.

Reading Between The Lines - Rex Domino at Drift

RITUAL Exhibition at Oxmarket Centre of Arts Opens Tonight

If you are out Chichester way tonight or later this month be sure to drop by Oxmarket Centre of Arts to see the ‘Ritual’ exhibition by foundation art & design students and staff from Chichester College. We recently exhibited their One Strong Island project in Strong Island Clothing Co. with some great screen-printing work, they are an awesome bunch of young artists and designers.

The exhibition opens tonight from 6pm – 8pm and runs until the end of the month.

RITUAL Exhibition at Oxmarket Centre of Arts

‘Dockies’ an Exhibition of Paintings by John Green at Jack House Gallery

At the end of January Old Portsmouth’s Jack House Gallery will be home to an exhibition of paintings by local artist John Green, entitled ‘Dockies’. John Green, a product of the raw life of Portsmouth’s city streets and its historical dockyards, creates the most exhilarating, colourful, and deeply informed paintings of a tough job as a dockyard rigger in the post-war docks. Every image is terrifically strong, powerful and temptingly tactile. Huge stadia like dry docks, and their equally massive resident imperial war machines are the backdrop to the everyday lives of a host of carefully choreographed groups of workers – each treated with an almost Hogarthian observation of character and trade. In the first of 2 exhibitions of John’s enormous body of work planned for 2016 you can now see these marvellous paintings at Jack House Gallery.

John Green started his working life in the Portsmouth Dockyard in 1956 aged just 15 and throughout his 40 years there kept detailed records of dockyard life in dozens of sketchbooks which he continues to use to make his paintings and prints. John’s studio, and as importantly, John’s memory are a treasure trove and valuable archive of a very recent past. John is a member of Art Space Portsmouth where he now works full time as an artist.

The exhibition is open to the public from 29th January to 5th March, check the Jack House Gallery website for full details plus an interview/gallery visit with John Green:

jackhousegallery.co.uk

'Dockies' an Exhibition of Paintings by John Green at Jack House Gallery (1)

'Dockies' an Exhibition of Paintings by John Green at Jack House Gallery (2)

'Dockies' an Exhibition of Paintings by John Green at Jack House Gallery (3)

Find Out More About Hotwalls Studios at Crafts in the Tower

The Hotwalls Studios project has continued at apace since the hoarding boards went up around the site at the start of Autumn last year. The work on site is set to continue until the mid summer when the studios and cafe will open to the public. If you wish to find out more about the studios you can speak to Dr Beverly Lucas and her team who are running the project at upcoming Crafts in the Tower craft markets at the Square Tower. The dates for these markets are:

– Sunday 21st February, 11am to 3pm
– Sunday 20th March, 11am to 4pm

Hotwalls Studios at Crafts in the Tower

Photos from Saturday’s ‘Southsea in B&W’ Photography Walkshop

Despite planning Saturday’s ‘Southsea in B&W’ photo walkshop with rain, wind, stormy seas and sky in mind…the weather was actually blue skies, sunshine and a calm, flat sea. Not what we expected but still great conditions for a walk around Southsea with our cameras. 17 local photographers with all different experience and abilities (and cameras ranging from SLRs to iPhones) came down for the morning walk and we started off at the Rose Gardens. The plan was to focus primarily on B&W photography and the pruned back, nature asleep feel of the gardens was a great place to begin.

We walked out to the explore the beach huts before looking for flat, geometric compositions and silhouettes with the sun and the sea as a backdrop to people enjoying a walk, run and cycle along the prom. We crossed over and down on to the beach looking at different composition techniques and tips on different angles to capture the familiar. With sand on our shoes we walked down to Canoe Lake looking at slightly more advanced narrative techniques and then the very friendly swans greeted us ready for lots of photos. We ended up down by the pier looking for dark shadows and rich nautical textures of rust and rope.

A big thank you to everyone who came down and don’t forget our next workshop is looking at Night Photography on the 6th February. You can find out about all the upcoming walkshops this winter & spring on our website:

www.photowalkshops.com

Below are some photos from the walk, we’ll be posting up more on the Strong Island Instagram (@StrongIslandUK) in the coming days too.


































Mint Gun Club Drop New EP and Play Tonight at Drift Bar

Mint Gun Club have just released their new 3 track EP and made it available to stream online over at www.mintgunclub.bandcamp.com. To buy the digital EP it is only £3 or you can also pick up the EP on tape too…a good opportunity to do so might be tonight, where the band play Drift Bar on Palmerston Road with support from Veludo Planes & Swoons.

The show is FREE and doors open at 8pm.




Kings Theatre Family Open Day Tomorrow

The Kings Theatre Open Day returns on tomorrow (Saturday 16th January), to give the whole family a day out to remember and a behind the scenes experience of the beautiful Edwardian theatre. From 10am to 4pm you are welcomed to explore areas of the theatre you never usually get to see, with a technical tour of the stage house and a trip to the fly floor, or learn about the history of the theatre on one of the historical tours.

As well as exploring you can also try your hand at Ukulele ‘jamming’, take part in a stage workshop with the Kings Youth Theatre, or show them your best pose in our 80’s vs 90’s photo booth. Join Fareham College backstage in the dressing rooms for character make-up demonstrations, casualty special effects and character transformations with special wig and makeup techniques.

If you are interested in the history of the Kings, and the restoration of the building, an exhibition and information will be in the promenade with archivists to chat to. HMS Warrior will also have an archive exhibition and workshop taking place within the Matcham Bar.

At 3pm, a showcase of performances will take place on the stage with some sneak previews of upcoming shows this year. A day not to be missed!

Tickets are £5 single and £15 family and can be bought at the box office (phone 02392 828282) and online at the Kings Theatre website:

www.kingsportsmouth.co.uk

Kings Theatre

I WAS THERE – FIVE SENSES Performance at Portsmouth Guildhall

As part of Portsmouth Guildhall’s 125th birthday in 2015 Strong Island ran the I WAS THERE! project, collecting memories from Portsmouth people of their favourite live music moments throughout Portsmouth Guildhall’s history. Following on from the memory collection part of the project and the film that was produced and recently screened at the Guildhall, FIVE SENSES is the final stage of the project.

Strong Island Media and Old Salt Theatre have worked together with a group of young actors and performers from Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth to take many of these collected memories and bring them to life in a brand new stage performance. I WAS THERE – FIVE SENSES will be premiered on stage at Portsmouth Guildhall at 7:30pm on Thursday 21st January, with free tickets available from Portsmouth Guildhall box office in advance. This intimate performance brings to life many of the submitted memories we collected for the I WAS THERE! project, with scenes taking inspiration from events that occurred on the very same stage. The I WAS THERE film will also be screen just before the performance begins.

We’re very excited to have worked with Portsmouth Guildhall and Old Salt Theatre, with this beingStrong Island’s first project involving theatre and live performance, we hope everyone can come along!

This event is FREE however you will need a ticket, to reserve a ticket please contact the Portsmouth Guildhall Box Office 02393 870200 or email: enquiries@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk

I WAS THERE - FIVE SENSES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Jones

David Jones.

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

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

aplasticocean.film

A Plastic Ocean

Victorious Festival 2016

Victorious Festival have announced the first wave of acts to perform at this August’s festival. Portsmouth has always been very much an ‘indie city’ and the news that Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will be taking stage on Southsea Common is likely to excite most of Portsmouth. Joining Noel will be Manic Street Preachers and Mark Ronson.

Saturday night will see The Manic Street Preachers performance will coincide with the 20th anniversary of their triple platinum selling album Everything Must Go.

“We’re so excited to be announcing this line up. It’s taken a lot of hard work but we couldn’t be more pleased to be bringing Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and The Manics to Portsmouth. It’s going to be an incredible year for both Victorious and Portsmouth.” – Andy Marsh, Festival Director.

Also announced for the festival will be The Levellers, Ash, The Coral, Jack Savoretti, Space, Echo & the Bunnymen, Will Young, Selector and Emmy the Great. Of course you can expect a host of the best local acts performing at the festival.

If you need reminding of what you missed last year then check out the highlights from Strong Island Media.

The organisers are always looking to evolve and develop and have also announced that this year there will be a giant circus tent up in the kids’ arena as well as a whole host of free entertainment and activities for children and their families. It goes without saying that you will see Strong Island and many other local traders offering some of the finest food, booze, craft and clothing.

The festival will take place on Saturday 27th (my birthday!) and Sunday 28th of August. Don’t be surprised if they managed to beat last years figures which saw 100,000 spectators on Southsea Common over the weekend. If you would like to be there this year then you can get your hands on tickets from their website www.victoriousfestival.co.uk.

You can stay up to date on all things Victorious via Facebook and Twitter @VictoriousFest, or by signing up to the mailing list HERE.

Victorious Festival 2016 Initial Line-Up

Victorious Festival by Todd Lawton
Photo by Todd Lawton
Victorious Festival 2015 by Jack Daly
Photo by by Jack Daly
Victorious Festival by Gavin Withey
Photo by Gavin Withey

Strong Island, Dumpster Design and Community Fusion Collab

We recently joined forces with Portsmouth-based Dumpster Design and Community Fusion to bring together local young creatives and volunteers to construct a stunning bespoke dress made entirely from out of date promotional materials. Community Fusion volunteers along with students from Havant College and Portsmouth Academy For Girls took part in the project.

Dumpster Design dresses are a powerful concept of wearable art created from unusable and surplus materials. The dress offers a positive way to support sustainability and repurpose materials in an eye catching and utterly unique way.

Dumpster Design’s founder and designer Daisy Harris-Burland described how “This has been a fantastic opportunity to work with Strong Island and Community Fusion to design, create and work with such a wonderful group of young volunteers.” The end result as modelled by our shop manager Lara is not only striking but also encompasses iconic aspects of the nautical Strong Island brand with over 300 origami boats and 200 anchor medallions intertwined in the design of the dress.

You can find the dress currently on display in store now so pop in and check it out yourself.

You can find out more about Dumpster Design over on their website www.dumpsterdesign.co.uk.

Lara

Lara 1

Photos by Aduroe Photography

Created Local – Instagram @JonathanPink

Welcome to the first of a new Strong Island feature where we are looking to celebrate some of our favourite Instagram photographers who have links with our city. The first of which is Jonathan Pink who you can follow yourself on Instagram as @JonathanPink.

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

I haven’t always been local to Portsmouth, but always visited and taken a keen interest in the city, it’s history and connection to the sea. I moved to Southsea two years ago after regularly visiting the city, getting to know it’s quirks and scratching the surface of what it’s about. I’m a graphic designer and commute to my job out of the city, I live with my partner and Miniature Dachshund name Hugo.

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

I always use my iPhone6 for my Instagram photography. For me, Instagram is that instant capture of a moment in my life and the things I see. The phone makes it quick, easy and accessible.

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

Being a graphic designer, I consider myself a creative thinker and have always enjoyed different expressions of this. Photography being one. I own a Canon digital SLR which I use occasionally or for specific shoots, events or days out. I’ve never been trained in photography, but have naturally picked up the functionality and use of a camera on my way, capturing a great shot is something which come s little more naturally being a designer.

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@jonathanpink

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

I take photographs for myself primarily, the instant enjoyment of finding, capturing and posting a photo of my everyday life. That said, my Instagram account is public, so there is a nature of enjoying other photography and them enjoying what I have taken.

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

Not coming from a city on the sea, I genuinely appreciate the shoreline, sea and walking our dog. The constant change in weather, seasons and activity makes this space an interesting one to live beside and take photographs of. From the summer sunsets, eerie fog, busy shipping lanes to the stormy solent. This space gives so much to me.

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

Instagram photographers include the Isle of Wight based photographer Chad Powell (@isleofwightmilkyway), from New York Cubby Graham (@CubbyGraham) and locally based tattoo artist Louise Bush (@Lapin_Lou).

I generally enjoy a mixture of photographers, especially on Instagram. Those who inspire me, through their subject matter, style and general approach to life/photography and content different to my own.

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@jonathanpink 1

@JonathanPink 5

@jonathanpink

Of course you can also find Strong Island on Instagram under @StrongIslandUK and @StrongIslandClothingCo.

Strong Island Recordings – Treacherous Tides Vol 2 Feat Kassassin Street, Wyldest, Violet Swells & More

On the 19th February Strong Island Recordings release the follow up to the first Treacherous Tides Compilation from 2013. The latest compilation features a collection of our favourite acts from Portsmouth to Turkey, Glasgow, Australia and New Zealand. The album includes tracks featuring all things from psychedelia to stunning dream-pop gems and will be available via digital and a limited run of cassettes.

Kicking off the compilation is Southsea favourites, Kassassin Street, with their immense wall of sound, festival ready, psych-pop meets new-wave anthem ‘Radio Silence’. It’s great to get the guys on a release of ours being from our hometown.

From the opposite side of the world, ‘Gravity Wins Again’ from Tasmanian outfit Violet Swells who draw comparisons with Tame Impala’s sunshine tinted, psychedelic-pop.

Wyldest have recorded an exclusive track for the compilation with their own take on A-Ha’s ‘Sun Always Shines On TV’ giving it a fine coat of their signature shimmering dream-pop sound which will available as a Bandcamp & cassette exclusive.

Love LUV’s ‘Sold My Love’ is infectious, joyous, garage-pop mirroring the 60’s revival. New Zealanders MOSES ‘Opium’ is perfectly titled. It’s a beautiful, sedate, stone jam delving between the kaleidoscope rainbow like realms of psychedelia and shoegaze.

Until recently Love Hippies & Gangsters was a one man project but now the four piece consisting of Yiğit Bülbül, Dan Hale, Mikel Acosta and Sam Enthoven. Their track ‘Through Your Mind’ is a shower of guitars and a throwback to 60’s and 70’s psychedelia.

Tin Foil Astronaut’s ‘Without A Sound’ is a nod to the current Australian psychedelic movement sounding like it’s came straight out of Kevin Parker’s studio in Perth. It’s a true sun-soaked, psych-pop banger.

Closing out the compilation is Life Model’s ‘Enough (To Know) finally getting a full release. Channeling Slowdive, MBV and Cocteau Twins, it’s a visceral yet euphoric and beautiful sonic journey.

You can pre-order and listen to the the compilation on Bandcamp and also pre-order the cassette over on our Music Glue pages (as well as find exclusive bundle deals on both) and the compilation will also be available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other digital and streaming outlets.

SIR Digi Square

I WAS THERE – FIVE SENSES Performance at Portsmouth Guildhall

As part of Portsmouth Guildhall’s 125th birthday in 2015 Strong Island ran the I WAS THERE! project, collecting memories from Portsmouth people of their favourite live music moments throughout Portsmouth Guildhall’s history. Following on from the memory collection part of the project and the film that was produced and recently screened at the Guildhall, FIVE SENSES is the final stage of the project.

Strong Island Media and Old Salt Theatre have worked together with a group of young actors and performers from Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth to take many of these collected memories and bring them to life in a brand new stage performance. I WAS THERE – FIVE SENSES will be premiered on stage at Portsmouth Guildhall at 7:30pm on Thursday 21st January, with free tickets available from Portsmouth Guildhall box office in advance. This intimate performance brings to life many of the submitted memories we collected for the I WAS THERE! project, with scenes taking inspiration from events that occurred on the very same stage. The I WAS THERE film will also be screen just before the performance begins.

We’re very excited to have worked with Portsmouth Guildhall and Old Salt Theatre, with this beingStrong Island’s first project involving theatre and live performance, we hope everyone can come along!

This event is FREE however you will need a ticket, to reserve a ticket please contact the Portsmouth Guildhall Box Office 02393 870200 or email: enquiries@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk

I WAS THERE - FIVE SENSES

Archives

Matt Saxey’s Bike Ride Photos

Head on over to Matts Flickr and check out a few more photos from last Sunday’s ride. Great photos that really help capture the event.

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ride1

Vintage Old Portsmouth Photograph

We’ve not had a vintage photograph for quite a while on Strong Island, and this one is a winner. This photo of the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth was taken in 1958 by Mark Kauffman for LIFE Magazine. Click this LINK for a larger version.

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Thanks to Jubru for sending this over.

Local Designer/Photographer – Weaver

I just found these great illustrations from local web designer and photographer Weaver on one of my random web travels. I’m loving the Hilsea Lido and Carlton Cinema depictions. Check out Weavers Flickr for more Portsmouth illustrations and a whole bunch of local photography and more besides. They would make amazing prints i think you’ll agree.




Vintage Portsmouth & Southsea

Awesome vintage photography collection from Pop Olive33 that I found on Flickr a while back. Check out Osborne Road and Guildhall. Epic. Hard to imagine a time when traffic flowed through Guilders, and that was only in 1968 and the shot looking west down Osborne Road is amazing. Trams, horses, grand buildings, a traffic cop, ladies & gents. It’s all going on. To view the full collection head over to Pop Olive’s Flickr photostream HERE and the Portsmouth set HERE.









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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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Southsea Flats by Cat

Big Rave Night

Clearly ‘that top group from Portsmouth The Parkas’ used to rave hard at the licensed bar The Drill Hall in Camberley back in ’67. Awesome stuff for sure.

Flyer Seen : Pompey Pop Pix

It’s going to be a Strong Movember

Righto chaps, it’s time to clean shave your boat race and get that mighty moustache on the grow in support of Movember for The Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research. For 30 days of November you can help support and raise awareness through selflessly parading your top lip for charity.

You can sign up yourself, as I’m sure many of you already have, or you can join the Strong Island team and seek out sponsorship as a team. Through the Strong Island Movember page you can ask people to join the group, make donations, upload photos and post updates via the MoSpace page, Facebook and Twitter.

Head over to our MoSpace if you would like to get involved and grow a Strong Moustache to help raise awareness, or simply head over to www.uk.movember.com and sign up to personally raise money.

The funds raised in the UK support the number one and two male specific cancers – prostate and testicular cancer. The funds raised are directed to programmes run directly by Movember and our men’s health partners, The Prostate Cancer Charity and the Institute of Cancer Research. Together, these channels work together to ensure that Movember funds are supporting a broad range of innovative, world-class programmes in line with our strategic goals in the areas of awareness and education, survivorship and research.

Poster: Tristan Savage

Submarine Graveyard

Portsmouth’s Pounds scrapyard has been the final stop for the lives of many military vehicles over the years but most noticeable it has been the location for a submarine graveyard. So iconic was the sight of the submarines as you entered Portsmouth that they became the inspiration for the architect when designing the new swimming pool at the Mountbatten Centre.

Robin Hinson has a large collection of photos of the scrapped submarines here, with a few shown below.






Seafront Lights: Adam Wintle

Southsea web designer and photographer Adam Wintle has recently been taking some really nice photos of the Southsea promenade lights and of the pier at night. Be sure to look through his Flickr for loads more great photos.

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