Long live the Southsea Dinosaur! By Emma Beatty
D o you remember the Southsea Dinosaur? The 16-metre-high, scrap-wood statue that loomed over Southsea Common back in 2010? Sadly, it burnt down because of an electrical fault but locals never forgot its unique amiable character.
Now there’s a newly-commissioned bronze “omnisaurus” by the same Welsh artists, Heather Peak and Ivan Morison, near the original on Southsea Common. The new piece is quite a bit smaller and sits atop a fossil Portland-stone plinth, totalling 1.4 metres high.
A plaque connects you to an augmented reality experience via your smartphone – revealing a full-size digital rendering of the original artwork.
“More than 12,000 local residents joined an independently created Facebook group called ‘RIP Southsea Dinosaur’ when Luna Park tragically and mysteriously burned down in 2010 and since summer 2020, a Crowdfunder has raised £10,000 to build our bronze replica of the goliath,” said Joanne Bushell, Director, of Aspex, the city art gallery that co-ordinated the project.
Also at Aspex, in its Gunwharf gallery, you’ve got until 10 October to see its show of emerging artists – Emergency 2021 – a diverse mix of installation, video, sculpture and photography blending deft humour and style with dabs of sober politics and pathos. After that, Aspex rolls out its annual recent-graduate Award show, Platform 2021 (22 Oct-23 Dec). This year’s entries include sculpture, installation, film, photography, print, drawing, painting and collage. One young artist will be nominated for a £2,000 bursary.
On Portsmouth High Street, Jack House Gallery is bringing some LA cool to the city in collaboration with the pop artist Derek Boshier, Images of Los Angeles (9 Oct-13 Nov). He now lives in Los Angeles and suggested doing the show because of the large number of expat British artists living and working in LA with whom he is friends. He said: “All the artists in this exhibition live in Los Angeles and work in very varied media. I introduced the theme of images of Los Angeles. All who did not originate from America have interesting stories to tell. Graham Moore for example lived in Gosport and later in Southsea. He worked in Portsmouth Dockyard, where he trained as rigger but immediately after that went to art college and is now a successful digital graphic designer and teacher. Philip Vaughn went to Chelsea School of Art (as did Penny Slinger) and studied sculpture. To cut a long story short with his sculpture skills he built a 40-foot boat and sailed it from Britain to America where in California he still sails.”
There are 22 artists on the show, most of whom have contributed two pieces fixed in size to 8” x 9.5”.
And finally, it’s getting dark, so watch out for We Shine Portsmouth (18-21 Nov), the city’s “first major light festival” set up to develop the city’s creative industries and help promote those working within them. City landmarks will be lit with one-off, “awe-inspiring artworks” designed by local artists and some nationally renowned ones too.