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Friday 12 December 2014

Exploring Southampton's identity

What is it about our city that in its name is always a town? And what does it do to the city’s self-image, when so many people arrive, and then almost immediately leave? The Stranger than Known: South Home Town exhibition explores the real and imagined identity of Southampton, celebrating its 50 years status as a city.

Artist Steve Hawley and Southampton Solent lecturer, Fellow and documentary maker Tony Steyger have collaborated to create a site specific installation for the University’s Showcase Gallery.

As well as slow motion video and drones, the exhibition features archived footage of the city, including footage from Calling Blighty.

Made during World War II by the Army Film Unit, the Calling Blighty films enabled soldiers serving abroad to record visual messages for family back home.

Bobby's Dad, surname Kelly

According to a report about a screening at the Classic Cinema in Southampton in The Echo on 1 May 1944, when one soldier appeared on screen saying to the camera, “Hello Bobby, can you see me?” his seven year old son stood up in the audience replying “Yes Daddy, I see you.” Recently the local media got involved when the exhibition curators asked for help in locating seven year old Bobby Kelly. He was found and actually attended the preview along with his younger brother.

Speaking about the exhibition, co-creator Tony Steyger says: “This evocative installation offers a vision of the city and its edges, glimpsing ghosts of the past to transform the everyday.”
Alongside the gallery exhibition is a community art space showcasing the work local schools and colleges – including Kanes Hill Primary School and St Anne’s Catholic School – who have contributed to the project during 2014, focusing on the theme of identity.

The exhibition is open to the public from 12 December 2014 – 7 February 2015 at the University’s Showcase gallery, Above Bar Street Southampton. Gallery opening times are 11am-6pm Monday to Friday and 11am – 5pm Saturdays. Please note the gallery will be closed during the Christmas period from 22 December 2014 – 4 January 2015.