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15 April 2011, 09:45
The iconic round tower in Old Portsmouth has opened to the public as a contemporary art gallery exhibiting work by local people.
It’s the first time the tower has been used for this kind of enterprise in its 500-year history.
Artists will have to combat damp conditions, 15th century walls and precarious flooring but the unique venue is a rare opportunity to exhibit in an exceptional historic setting.
Over 30 local artists, designers, photographers etc from across the city are involved in using the tower’s extraordinary interior to showcase their work. The exhibition will display a range of creative work from photographs developed with fresh Southsea seawater to textiles woven with 100 year-old postcards.
The idea for the gallery came from ‘Strong Island’, a local group that aims to promote, showcase and inform people about the creative and cultural side of Portsmouth and Southsea. The project is being run by Strong Island in conjunction with the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council.
Claire Sambrook, University lecturer and member of the ‘Strong Island’ network, said:
“This is a gallery by local people for local. The round tower is a landmark in Portsmouth and represents a unique piece of architectural heritage. We’re incredibly lucky to have access to such an unusual building and to open it up to the people of Portsmouth for them to use and enjoy. I hope everyone will come and see a new concept opening up inside a piece of history.”
The Round Tower is owned by Portsmouth City Council. Seafront Manager, David Evans, said:
“This is an exciting time for Portsmouth. The Round Tower is seldom open, but now the public will be able to enjoy access to this impressive landmark.
“Alongside the development of the hot walls arches into artists' workshops, we have an opportunity to use our unique heritage towards building a creative quarter in Old Portsmouth.
“With the help of the university, and everyone behind 'The Strong Island' exhibition, this looks to be a huge success and a fantastic season for the city.”
The exhibition is being launched on Friday 15 April from 6-9pm and the public are welcome. Refreshments will include a Strong Island beer and a Strong Island tea and there will be a range of products and artwork on sale from Aspex gallery, Bored of Southsea, Badger Press, Southsea gallery, Ooh La Lapin, Jodie Silsby, My Dog Sighs, Mark Persaud, The Caravan Gallery, Ben Hoath, James Weaver, French, The Tricorn Book, Deane Clarke’s Portsmouth book, Lorna Apps Woodland and the Creative Portsmouth Book.
The exhibition runs from 16 April - 3 May and is open from Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 3pm.
The Round Tower will continue as an exhibition space after The Strong Island exhibition.