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A Sotonia Manifesto bench designed by Johnny Hannah

Solent Showcase Gallery and GO! Southampton have partnered together with support from Balfour Beatty and Southampton City Council to create BENCH, an exciting new public art commission for Southampton 2020. 16 benches from the pedestrianised high street of Southampton have been transformed into works of art by local artists as part of a city-wide project that aims to activate the public realm.

BENCH links to GO! Southampton’s city recovery plan, together with Solent Showcase Gallery’s ‘What is Our Place?’ project that explores how creativity can rethink place and access across the city.  Art in public places can provide new ways to experience the city and BENCH offered an unusual canvas for artists to explore, infusing an everyday, seemingly unimportant object with new significance. 

Find out more about the project

Picture of artist Nathan Bailey's work, showing the word 'Collaborate'If we can't be somewhere, we'll be everywhere

In response to the continued restrictions limiting access to arts and performance spaces, Solent Gallery, part of Solent University, launches What is Our Place? – a project that will use creativity to rethink place and access in all its forms.

“Lockdown forces us to grapple with physical space in a way we haven’t done for decades. We reflect on the social, political and philosophical implications.” - Micha Frazer-Carroll, gal-dem magazine.

Covid-19 has been an experience that has pulled together community over individualism, has thrown a stark light on class and privilege, and has allowed for some disabled and marginalised voices to rise and be heard. What is Our Place ? will build on their lockdown art project Connection, Community and Creativity with projects and public interventions based on issues around place, looking to the future of the city with this in mind, working with creatives, artists, cultural studies and social science scholars to invent and innovate for the city.

In response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and with the health and safety of staff and students a top priority, the University will be moving towards more flexible ways of working and increased online delivery during the new academic year. With this in mind, Solent has made the decision to temporarily close its Sir James Matthews building from September 2020-21.

The building’s teaching and office space requirements will be met across the rest of campus, particularly the Spark and Michael Andrews buildings.

The closure will also impact the Solent Gallery which will be retaining a gallery window space and launching its What is Our Place? programme with offsite and community-based work to strengthen its local partnerships and explore how creativity can contribute to the wider city.

“We see this is as a vital moment to rearticulate, visualise, and be ambitious about the future,” says Professor Peter Lloyd, Dean of the School of Art, Design and Fashion.

“The effects of Covid-19 highlight to us the need to create meaningful responses to a range of new challenges. Now is the time to learn from the impacts lockdown has caused our city and seek real connections and interventions,” he continues.

The gallery has always worked successfully within communities in the city and following the development of its ten-year business plan - devised with curator and arts consultant, Professor Sarah Perks - Solent Gallery will now launch a programme of offsite and community-based work, co-creating projects exploring methods for interdisciplinary and innovative collaboration.

“While retaining a gallery window space, we will seek to strengthen our partnerships and explore how creativity and creative thinking can solve problems and discuss issues relating to the city,” adds Peter.

What’s on?

To find out more about what's coming up, visit the Solent Gallery Facebook page

Past exhibitions

From installations and dance, to fine art and illustration, find out what exhibitions have previously been on display here at Solent Showcase.

Take a look

Find us

Solent Showcase is located in the University's Sir James Matthews building on Guildhall Square, near the Civic Centre and the City Art Gallery. 

You can email the team using, or get in touch via social media using Facebook or Twitter.

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