Photo: Mataio Austin Dean
Culture Vulture written by Emma Beatty
Did you see the queues to get into the old Debenhams on Palmerston Road last month for the We Create Market? Apparently, some 4000 people visited over the weekend to buy from local traders. It’s buzzing once you get inside, with many more stalls than I expected. I bought all sorts – handprinted fabrics, a Portsmouth mystery trail book, Sloe gin, hand-knitted Christmas baubles, handmade soaps, and various other ingenious things destined for Christmas presents. There’s a café too, with local wine and beers. The market is open the second weekend of the month (7-8 Nov, 12-13 Dec), and is a collaboration between local arts groups, the city council and Portsmouth University.
Local arts organisations are facing great hardship because of social restrictions. Southsea’s King’s Theatre recently received a £3 million loan from Portsmouth City Council for a regeneration project, which will also see it develop a restaurant and rooftop bar. This is wonderful news for the long term. In the short term, the Kings is one of the very few major theatres on the South Coast to be staging a pantomime this year. The theatre staff have gone to huge lengths to organise the social distancing for its “Pompey panto”, Dick Whittington (29 Nov-31 Dec). Expect lots of jokes about wearing masks and keeping two metres apart.
Likewise, Groundlings Theatre in Kent Street is rising to the occasion to bring some much-needed festive cheer with its new version of A Christmas Carol (11-30 Dec). This favourite local venue was recently taken over by a newly formed charity, so deserves all our support.
Pre-Covid plans to hold an ambitious show of local artist John Green’s artworks in the Portsmouth Dockyard in 2021, organised by Jack House Gallery in Portsmouth, have re-started and further news on that will follow, but in the meantime, Jack House has set up a dedicated John Green instagram account to post his pictures and related images of Dockyard-themed art. Take a look at @johngreendockie.
Green’s work is currently part of Portsmouth Revisited II in the City Museum alongside that of many other Portsmouth artists including Garrick Palmer and Derek Boshier. If you haven’t been in the museum for a while, it’s very much open and this is a wonderful exhibition full of paintings from the city archives that rarely get seen – A history of the city in art from 1679-1900. If you’re local, you’ll recognise classic views of Spice Island, the shoreline and famous ships by artists such as WL Wyllie and Edmund Crawford. It’s worth going to see the 1679 panorama of Portsmouth by Hendrick Danckerts, said to have been commissioned by Charles II, and on loan from Her Majesty The Queen.
Also at the City Museum is the poignant sight of a rare Dodo skeleton, one of about 12 in existence and the only one privately owned. It’s the centrepiece of a new display about extinction; the poor Dodo having been wiped out by humans less than 100 years after they were first discovered. D is for Dodo, E is for Extinct explores the fate of several extinct species and British wildlife now threatened with extinction. The new display, which runs until 2021, is drawn from Portsmouth’s natural history collections, recently made accessible through the current Wild about Portsmouth Project, which is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Many specimens are being displayed for the first time in over a decade and have been supplemented with loans from Dinosaur Isle, Hampshire Cultural Trust and Bournemouth Natural Science Society.
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