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Culture alert?

Emma Beatty

As Portsmouth is being identified as a “Priority Place” for culture by Arts Council England, one of its oldest cultural treasures goes on show: a grand silver banqueting cup made in 1525, the Bodkin Cup. It used to be in a dimly lit cabinet in the lord mayor’s chambers at The Guildhall but is now the centre of an exhibition at the City Museum until February 2023 to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Bodkin Cup was owned by Francis Bodkin, three-times mayor of Portsmouth around the time of the Mary Rose. It has a border of spiky pineapples and a proudly Pompey Latin inscription “If God be for us, who can be against us?”. Also on view are two silver 1683 flagons and a 1965 silver-plated model of HMS Victory made of copper taken from the original ship.

More hidden artistic treasures are at Art Space studios 2-3 July which opens its doors for its annual Summer Open. This converted church tucked away off Elm Grove houses some 30 artists, working on everything from ceramics, to giant oil canvases, to sculpture and film. Have a peek around their many and varied studios and buy some unique works of art.

As part of PortsFest (see p.26) Jack House Gallery on the High Street has work by Art Space artist Colin Merrin 6-20 July. This new series of work on paper is centred on the idea of “meaning as a made-up phenomenon”. Strongly influenced by Dada and the German Expressionists, the human face and figure are the central motifs, however, over time, the building up of layers of collage, paint and ink “may also suggest deeper narratives”.

Also part of PortsFest, Art Space collage artist Kate Street has a free workshop in the Cascades shopping centre where you can make your own ‘situationist map’ of our ever-intriguing city streets, Saturday afternoon 2 July.

In the theatres, ‘Black Is The Color of My Voice’ is at the New Theatre Royal, 3 July, inspired by the life of Nina Simone and written and performed by award-winning Apphia Campbell.

PortsFest: Black is the colour of the Voice

Also at the NTR, is Mr Soft himself, Steve Harley 9 June with an acoustic set covering his eclectic lyrical talents from ‘Make Me Smile’ to ‘Judy Teen’. There’s more ‘80s nostalgia at the NTR with ‘80s Jazz Funk chart band Shakatak 17 June. Bill Sharpe’s famous keyboards will tinkle along to the soaring sounds of Jill Saward (lead vocals, percussion and flute, no less). 

Steve Harley

Shakatak band

If all that is too low-brow for you, then get tickets for lugubrious novelist Will Self who’s doing a reading at the Groundlings Theatre 30 June. 

And finally, Portsmouth Kite Festival is back 30-31 July – I don’t think I need to describe it for you, I’m just so pleased it’s back. 

Culture alert? I think we’re not doing too badly – but best not let the Arts Council know that…


Picture credits:

PortsFest: Colin Merrin’s artwork

PortsFest: Black is the Colour of my Voice

Steve Harley

Posted in: Art & Culture, Articles