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Culture Vulture

February and March. Art all about the sea, and travel, and roads… by Emma Beatty

The Soup of Souls by Pete Codling. Pictured above is the detail from the top section of panel dedicated to those lost swimming or misadventure in the Solent. This section is 1m x 1.5m. the total size is 3m x 4m

The Printmakers Council was set up in 1965 to promote new developments within printmaking by a group of artists including Julian Trevelyan (whose work is currently on show in Pallant House, Chichester). It is still going strong, and some 70 members are sending work to Jack House Gallery (19-30 March). The works have all been made new for the show on a theme of ‘Journeys’ interpreted in many ways, from the personal to the physical. They range from fantastical visions of moonlit flight, to Samuel Palmer-esque pastoral country lanes.

You might have seen Peter Codling’s monumental charcoal drawings in the window of Jack House Gallery last month. Now, there’s more new work by this exceptional local artist – eight huge panels on show in the Anglican Cathedral on Portsmouth High Street (through February and March). Codling has been working right high up in the cupola in the Belfry tower for the last few months. This small dome was once used to announce the arrivals and departures of ships from the harbour, and Codling was struck by thoughts of all those lost at sea. Each of the panels is dedicated to a particular story from the Solent such as The Mary Rose, The SS Mendi, navy sea burials, and local fishing accidents.


The New Theatre Royal also celebrates our mysterious briny depths in its Festival of the Sea (11 Feb-2 Mar), with a diverse range of live and digital performances. They include Frogman, a “coming-of-age drama and supernatural thriller that uses live performance and virtual reality headsets”, (14-16 Feb). It centres, intriguingly, on the Great Barrier Reef, a coral expert, and a child’s fish tank.

The Guildhall’s new studio space has another quirky piece of theatre in The Shy Manifesto (20 Feb) “a bittersweet coming-of-age comedy-drama about a shy boy who’s had enough of being told to come out of his shell”. He delivers his manifesto, exploring adolescence, isolation, self-loathing, and sexuality, and encourages his audience of radical shy comrades to rise up and inherit the earth (about time I say). 

Radical shy or not, if you love staying in with a good book, Portsmouth BookFest 2019 is back (18 Feb-10 Mar). Organised by the local library service and Hayling Island Bookshop, it has some 20 events: writing workshops, author’s talks and more, such as the poetry and prose open mic event (18 Feb 7.15pm) at Hunter Gatherer on Albert Road.

Budding piano players make a date for 5 Feb, when acclaimed concert pianist, Margaret Fingerhut, is at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral playing favourite pieces by the likes of Chopin, Grieg, Prokofiev, and Rachmaninoff, as well as a new piece by Kurdish Syrian composer Moutaz Arian. It’s the second gig of a British tour to raise funds for the ‘City of Sanctuary’ initiative that supports refugees – a subject close to Fingerhut’s heart, she says, as her grandparents settled here from Ukraine, Poland, and Ireland.

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra has three concerts coming up at the Guildhall. On 28 February it plays ‘superhuman’ pieces, namely, Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, followed by  Beethoven’s C Major Piano Concerto and his Third Leonore Overture. Then, on 15 March, it brings big cinematic melodies by John Williams and Hans Zimmer– from Star Wars to Harry Potter, and Pirates of the Caribbean (probably a good one to inspire potential young musicians). On 21 March, BSO turns to English nostalgia with Elgar’s Cello Concerto and then Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia.

And finally, how often do you think about roads? Those feats of civil engineering under our whizzing cars? Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf has a new exhibition, Formation Level, all about our streets, avenues, highways, and motorways. It’s produced by former civil engineer-turned-artist and film-maker Amanda Loomes (until 24 March), who has brought together short films documenting the labour and materials used in road production, as well as drawings and diagrams, some from her own time as a civil engineer.

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