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Artists celebrate city and region

Bouke de Vries 'Memory Vessel' project. Image courtesy the artist

Bouke de Vries ‘Memory Vessel’ project. Image courtesy the artist

Music hall, crime and punishment and a ghost vessel are all part of artSOUTH: collaborations, a new visual art project coming to Portsmouth this September.

The University of Portsmouth is bringing together internationally renowned artists to create art works that explore and celebrate the south of England.

Portsmouth is one of only four universities involved in the project, which will see 12 weeks of exhibitions and performances across central southern England between September and December. Coach tours will provide an eventful, art-filled journey between each location.  Fifteen organisations are taking part, including the National Trust, local authorities and galleries.  Arts Council England and Artswork are also supporting the project.

The artists created new work in collaboration with specialists from different art forms and different fields of expertise, including the University’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies.

Mel Brimfield, ‘Dickie Beau as Willy Little’, 2013. Image courtesy the artist and Ceri Hand Gallery

Mel Brimfield, ‘Dickie Beau as Willy Little’, 2013. Image courtesy the artist and Ceri Hand Gallery

Denise Callender, promotions manager for the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, said: “What’s so special about this project is that it involves collaboration with many individuals and across many organisations bringing contemporary art to new audiences.  There will be a legacy of creative relationships that are vital for the sustainability of cultural projects in this region.”

The University’s Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries is hosting a live theatrical performance, created by artist Mel Brimfield, charting the history of a fictional cruise ship entertainment troupe. The performance will take place at The Square Tower in Old Portsmouth. Focusing on the reminiscences of its lead actor and comedian Willy Little, played by Dickie Beau, ‘An Audience with Willy Little’ celebrates the rich tradition of music hall and variety theatre. The show is presented in collaboration with the John Hansard Gallery at the University of Southampton, which commissioned the artist.

Commissioned by the University of Portsmouth, a glass ‘ghost’ vessel created by artist Bouke de Vries will be on exhibition at the Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth. The artist chose a single 19th century glass from the Portsmouth City Museum’s collection to make the piece.

Denise Callender, who brought the three partner organisations together, said: “The glass has a new life inside a beautiful sculpture, which for me represents the new partnership between the Portsmouth organisations that have come together to make this happen.”

Drawing on the perspectives of people who commit crimes and people who are victims of crime, artist Jordan Baseman worked with criminology lecturers Dr Diana Bretherick, Dr Paul Smith and Dr Claire Noble and with TV and film production student Daniel Rogers to create a film about crime and punishment. The film will be screened at the Omega Centre in Portsmouth. A selection of documentaries and films that have inspired and relate to themes in Baseman’s work will be screened at Aspex Gallery.

Dr Bretherick said: “My research and teaching is concerned with the relationship between crime and culture, but until now this has been from the perspective of an outsider looking in.

“Collaborating with Jordan on this project has given me a completely new insight into the representation of crime and criminals, this time as a participant rather than purely from a researcher’s viewpoint. It has been a fascinating experience and will definitely inform my work in the future.”

Students at the University will benefit from the collaboration by attending exhibitions, events and visiting artists’ talks by Jordan Baseman, Mel Brimfield and Bouke de Vries, including critical debate about artistic practice. Limited places are available to the public.  There is a writing workshop led by author Sally O’Reilly, a lecturer in the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media at the University. The workshop is open to students and the public.

Entry to all artSOUTH events involving the University of Portsmouth is free. For more information and to book a place on any of the events, go to

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