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Rebel Music: Sound System Culture and the Story of Blues Parties in Southampton

An exhibition devised by Don John

19 October - 20 December 2019

11am-4pm Tuesday to Saturday
Access via Artisan Cafe off Guildhall Square

Painting of a Jamaican man by the artist, Gerard Hanson

Image credit: Gerard Hudson

Showcase Gallery is proud to present a new exhibition that explores the extraordinary story of the 'shebeens' or 'blues' clubs that were a key part of Southampton's music scene in the 70s and 80s. Bringing together new artwork, old images and found footage, the exhibition will creatively explore why these sound systems emerged in the city and the impact of Jamaican music on British culture.

Artist Gerard Hudson will be creating new work especially for the exhibition, together with archive material and footage.

People with memories to share are invited to contribute images or stories to help tell the Southampton story.

Special opening event - 18 October 2019

6pm - Drinks at Showcase Gallery
7pm - Film screening of Bass Culture by Mykaell Riley at Showcase Gallery
9pm - Blues party with MAKA Sound System at Belgium and Blues

There will be a special opening of the exhibition at 6pm, followed by a screening of the renowned film Bass Culture by Mykaell Riley that explores music from the 60s to the present day and the profound ways in which Jamaican music remade popular music in Britain.

After the film, we will be entertained by MAKA Foundation - one of the original sound systems from Southampton at Belgium & Blues, from 9pm until late. Belgium & Blues is situated closed to the Showcase Gallery and is an independently-run bar with great craft beers.

About the shebeens

In the 60s, 70s and 80s, West Indian communities, who were regularly denied entry to clubs in the city, organised their own entertainment by having house parties where they could listen to music they loved without the aggravation they received in public places. Some house parties developed into illegal drinking houses that were also known as 'blues' and 'shebeens' - and sound systems were an essential ingredient.

Sound systems now occupy a unique place in the early history of migrants from the Caribbean who carved out a little piece of their history in an environment that was sometimes cold and hostile.

About the artist

Gerard Hanson was born in Bradford of Jamaican and Irish parents and much of his art explores his heritage and identity. Working with Don John and using oral history, archives and visiting sites of pubs and clubs long since closed, Gerard will be creatively exploring the reasons why the shebeens cam about and their impact on the city.


Solent University Graduate Selection 2019

8 July - 24 August 2019


11am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday
Access via Artisan Cafe off Guildhall Square

work - Solent University's graduate exhibition logo 

Image credit: Cat Luxton

It's that time of year again! Solent Showcase Gallery's annual selection of works from Solent University's School of Art, Design and Fashion is here.

The range of courses at Solent is broader than ever to respond to a rapidly changing world and a challenging workplace. This is the place to see emerging trends and future talent from over thirty students who are part of the fabric of the city’s cultural community.

The 2019 graduates are engaging with a wide range of issues that reflect how a new generation of artists feel about the world around them. From satirising social media, reflecting on the popular press through to work about protest, female inequality and climate change, these artists are making us aware of our place on this planet. Key themes of family, mental health and political engagement are familiar yet fresh and demonstrate a greater openness, a fluidity of gender and an effortless blurring of lines.

Exhibition branding designed by Cat Luxton

Everything is Now

An exhibition in collaboration with artist and writer, Stacey Heale

26 April - 11 June 2019

Featuring artists: Candy Chang, Greg Gilbert, Stacey Heale, The Fandangoe Kid, Life.Death.Whatever, and Brendan Walker

11am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday
Access via Artisan Cafe off Guildhall Square

Tides of Love and Loss - The Fandangoe Kid

Image credit: The Fandangoe Kid, Tides of Love and Loss, 2019

Can a traumatic event transform fear into growth?

Everything is Now looks to reconstruct our narrative of fear and regret; despite being seen as negative, both are one of many emotions that help shape our reality and work alongside love and gratitude in helping us come alive. The work here explores the exquisite agony and ecstasy of being human and living in the moment with particular focus on a moment of clarity born from trauma, risk, or fear that sparks a new way of thinking. It is an examination into how these moments can destroy but can also reinforce an urgency to live.

This exhibition is not about death, although its presence is an essential one. Without the humbling acknowledgement of death in its potent and non-abstract form, the ability to live in the moment - in the here and now - may not be possible. The artists here are very much exploring what it is to be alive, asking new questions, starting new journeys and articulating new experiences. They are examining how we might express fear, how we could embrace risk, how to throw off habitual patterns of behaviour and say what needs to be said.


Stacey Heale has co-collaborated this exhibition and will also be contributing via two special events:

The Silver Boots Supper Club
9 May 2019, 7-9.30pm (attendance through application only)

A one night only event with 15 people who were selected via an open application process in early April. Silver Boots Supper Club is an intimate event to eat, drink and discuss all the things we would do with our lives if we weren’t afraid. The evening aims to start a conversation about what we want to experience during our lives, to explore why we don’t act on these wants and to offer a safe space to discuss how to change this. While this kind of chat needs a vulnerable heart and mind, we hope it will be one of deep engagement, insight and empowerment. This isn’t a place for keeping up appearances; attendees are asked to engage whole-heartedly - it is a participatory event to share stories and ideas. See below for more information

The Time is Now
15 June 2019 (tbc), 10am-4pm

A free and open collective tattoo event held in Solent Showcase Gallery where members of the public can have a tattoo of the word 'now' done for free in the gallery.

The experience looks at how a medium often used for personal self expression and construction of identity can connect a group of strangers and opposing ideas of the transient nature of the present moment with the indelibility of a tattoo. The reasons for coming to get a tattoo may be intensely personal, yet the unity of the singular word will unite strangers in a shared experience forever.

Based on ideas from chaos theory, the intention is that participants will engage in a unifying action that can be amplified and produce larger effects elsewhere. The event will be documented, held from 10am-4pm and will be on a first come, first served basis. It is anticipated that the tattoo artist will work from several set fonts of the word ‘now’ and will be able to tattoo approximately 15-20 people over the course of the day. There is no charge.


Before I Die.... wall by Candy Chang.
April – June

In addition to a Candy Chang wall in the gallery itself, we also have an one off-site at Monty’s Community Hub in Montague Avenue, Sholing. They have volunteered to look after a large-scale installation of Candy Chang’s wall to explore with the local community what ideas and ambitions for living they may have. The wall is regularly photographed and sent to Candy Chang’s community project

Before I Die is a global art project that invites people to contemplate mortality and share their personal aspirations in public. Through this exhibition, Southampton and Solent University becomes one of over 5,000 cities around the world to have participated in the project.

Workshops by The Fandangoe Kid
Artist, Annie Nicholson (The Fandangoe Kid) will be visiting Southampton to run a series of workshops with local communities. Her workshops offer young adults, schools, teachers and educators a breadth of immersive learning opportunities, tackling complex subject matters creatively and innovatively.  Artwork produced by these workshops will be permanently installed around the city of Southampton.

Everything is Now exhibition promo image

Silver Boots Supper Club

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

9 May 2019, 7-9.30pm

Solent Showcase Gallery is delighted to be hosting the launch of The Silver Boots Supper Club, a special evening to eat, drink and discuss all the things we would do with our lives if we weren’t afraid.

Logo for the Silver Boots Supper Club

The dinner table is the most forgiving place for conversation. The ritual of sharing a meal creates warmth and connection and puts us in touch with our humanity. The Silver Boots Supper Club will be installed in the Gallery for one evening only as part of Stacey Heale’s creative project for the exhibition Everything is Now. Its launch is the start of subsequent Silver Boots Suppers across the country.

The contribution by Stacey Heale to the exhibition aims to start a conversation about what we want to experience during our lives, to explore why we don’t act on these wants and to offer a safe space to discuss how to change this.

For the launch on 9 May, The Silver Boots Supper Club will be an intimate dinner for 15 people in the gallery with chef Clayton Burke preparing a three-course meal. The evening will include guest speakers, although this is not just a listening project - it is a participatory event to share stories and exchange ideas. 

Stacey describes how the idea for The Silver Boots Supper Club began:

When my husband Greg was diagnosed with inoperable stage 4 bowel cancer, we talked about regret. I asked him if he regretted anything about his life and his reply was, "I wish I had dressed more like Marc Bolan. I can’t really understand now why I didn’t."

This realisation hit me hard. Why hadn’t he been living how he wanted? Was it because of fear, or to avoid ridicule or because it was just easier not to? This tallies with the number one regret of the dying - ‘I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me’. It made me question my own life and how I had been living. To support Greg, I immediately bought a pair of glam rock style silver boots.

Bolan would have been pleased.

When it comes to our own wishes, desires and regrets, we can give in to inertia. A year goes by, we don’t do anything. Two, three, 20 years go by and that small increment of negativity builds to a bigger feeling of regret when, unfortunately, many times it’s too late to actually do something. To make things worse, all the reasons that seemed compelling at the time for not taking action seem much less convincing later.

Through recent experience, I have learnt a lesson more valuable than all those learnt throughout the rest of my life put together. While my situation is dire, I am grateful for the chance to live more in the moment and drink in every drop of its multi-coloured brilliance.

I invite you to do the same and explore the lesson I learnt from both Greg and Marc Bolan - life is too short and glorious to not wear the silver boots.

The Silver Boots Supper Club is part of the Everything is Now exhibition at Solent Showcase Gallery running from 26 April - 22 June.

Make Your Mark: An Alternative Mapping Project

18 January - 30 March 2019

11am-5pm Tuesday to Saturday


Nathan Evans working on the Ordance Survey map of Southampton for the Make Your Mark exhibition

Southampton. The largest city in Hampshire, home to over 200,000 residents and a major port. But what is it really like to live here? What are the memories and experiences of the people who reside and work in the city? How do we really feel about this place? What makes it home?

Make Your Mark is an interactive map that you can walk through and contribute to. We invite you to share your thoughts, stories and experiences of the city writing directly onto the piece to build an alternative map of Southampton. Scratch the surface of any place and you will find a host of experiences and hidden histories waiting to be revealed; the smallest, most non-descript spaces can be brought to life by the people and stories that inhabit them; and they can change the way we think about that place and the city itself.

The project was supported by Ordnance Survey - whose head office is based in Southampton - from a technical standpoint. Solent Showcase Gallery commissioned local artist Nathan Evans to design and present the map, creating an installation in its own right.

Aside from the navigational, instructional experience, maps can be used to peel back the layers of social, cultural and environmental history of a place. Part oral history, part folklore, part personal homage, Make Your Mark will, over time, be an exploration of what Southampton means to its citizens, drawing on its hidden experiences, its contemporary social geography and its future. A melting pot of all those stories; an urban adventure into how people feel about this place. Help us capture the spirit of Southampton. 

Follow the stories added to map on our social media with hashtag #makeyourmarksoton

Instagram: @solent_showcase_gallery
Twitter: @SolentShowcase
Facebook: @solentshowcase


Events in 2018: Black to the Future, Here we Are, Under Between, Street Jam 2018, Stand Together

Image credit: Ade Adesina 'The View After The Questions', 2018, Linocut

Image credit: Ade Adesina 'The View After The Questions', 2018, Linocut

Black to the Future

A discussion of the Arts Through a Black Cultural Lens

12 October – 8 December 2018

Featuring artists:
Ade Adesina, Carleen De Sözer, Harold Offeh and Leyla Reynolds

11am-6pm Tuesdays to Fridays
11am-5pm Saturdays

As part of Black History Month, Southampton race and diversity consultant, Don John, and Showcase Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of exciting UK artists who are exploring art through a black cultural lens. Dismantling stereotypes, fusing cultures, and imagining futures are ways in which these artists are providing a starting point in the gallery for a range of open and discursive events between October and December about Afrofuturism and how it connects to the city.

From Badu to Barack Obama, through Beyonce and Black Panther, Afrofuturism is making gains into the American mainstream and further afield. How do we connect with this movement? How do these representations speak to us in Southampton? We invite you to imagine how black individuals and communities can defy the norms of documented black histories to spur social change.

Showcase Gallery will host a series of cross disciplinary activities, collaborations, screenings and events. We invite communities to stake a claim in the larger Afrofuturism exhibition project, planned for 2020/21.

The title, Black to the Future, comes from an influential essay by US author Mark Dery

Black to the Future logo

Here We Are

Solent University School of Art, Design and Fashion Graduate Show Selection 2018 

9 July – 29 September 2018


Showcase Gallery is here to shed light on the creative courses across Solent University’s School of Art, Design and Fashion, selecting artists who are responding to today’s world and the host of challenges we face. 2018’s final year cohort are touching upon endlessly engaging subjects, from self-identity and the pilgrimage of its exploration, to tacking the deeply unsettling issue of our human impact upon the planet we inhabit. This year’s selection show in Showcase Gallery is about calling people to stand up, speak out, and claim the future that lies ahead of us. 

To support the professional development of students, Showcase has offered a funded award to two graduates to create new site specific work for the gallery windows. Kane Applegate (  BA (Hons) Fine Art) and Miriam Amankwe ( BA (Hons) Illustration) will be developing some eye catching work over the summer to be shown from 22 August – 29 September.

Course list within the show:

Graphic Design, Illustration, Fine Art, Photography, Fashion Photography, Fashion Graphics, Interior Design, Hair + Make Up Design, Fashion Styling with Creative Direction

Admission is free.

Opening hours:
Monday – Friday: 11am – 6pm
Saturday: 11am – 5pm

Under Between

A project video mapping exhibition by Rencontres Audiovisuelles and composer Matt Salvage

1 May - 23 June 2018

Solent Showcase Gallery presents a new interactive exhibition: Under Between by Rencontres Audiovisuelles, an artist projection video mapping collective from the Lille Region, France. With sound design by musician and composer Matt Salvage. 

An emergent technology, projection video mapping is rapidly growing in popularity and Rencontres Audiovisuelles are at the forefront of this development. Now they are inviting Southampton to experience their new experimental creation as they bring projection mapping indoors, to the interior space of the Showcase Gallery. 

Rencontres Audiovisuelles are pushing the boundaries of the mapping medium to create an intimate immersive experience that is responsive to those who walk about the space. The use of a website: on a smartphone will enable the visitor to create the artwork - an amoebic ‘form’ appears on the gallery windows and then moves to the floor to explode into a myriad new creatures, all with different ‘attributes’. These creatures react and merge with others and with the viewer as they walk across the gallery floor - some will swarm and flock over and around objects and people, others will hide under speakers until it is quiet and then populate the gallery floor once again.  

Matt Salvage has created a sympathetic soundscape that also responds to interaction. Sounds collected from the UK and Lille, France, as well as online are designed to create an ambient soundscape.

We invite visitors to interact with the work and feedback their views on this experimental artwork that is still in development. We will host some special evening events to make the most of darker hours to experiment with these intriguing creatures some more.

Street Jam Live 2018

Saturday 9 June 2018, 11am-5pm

Guildhall Square

A chilled out creative day for all ages in the heart of the City

Street Jam Live 2018 logo

For the fourth year running, Solent Showcase Gallery brought back Street Jam Live, kindly supported by Go! Southampton.

Street Jam Live 2018 is a free event, open to everyone, and took place in the heart of Southampton's Cultural Quarter, celebrating street art, music and creativity.

Artists Bonzai, Kev Munday, Latchkeykid, Jinks, Nathan Evans transformed Southampton's Guildhall Square into a real street art and illustration showcase - a great testimony to Southampton talent, with all artists having a Sotonian link.

Leading international graffiti artists, street artists and illustrators showed off their skills to the public, creating new work on large scale canvases of perspex, board and industrial cling film (cellograff) live throughout the day. To add to the street vibe, SOCO Music Project were in residence, soundtracking the day with fine beats, as well as the Mayflower ZooNation Academy with hip hop-style performances and dance workshops.

It was a great opportunity for all ages to see artists and musicians working live. There were also activities for all ages to join in and learn some skills, including:

  • Live music making
  • Kids chalk area
  • Community stencil wall

More about technique and groups

Industrial clingfilm canvases (cellograff) is a technique developed in France in 2009 by Astro and Kanos. It involves using spray paints on a cellophane surface to create a wall-free, legal graffiti piece.

SOCO music project is a local organisation that engages people of all ages in music and creative projects.

Artists and illustrators taking part

Stand Together

Kev Munday - artist in residence

2 February - 14 April 2018

Solent Showcase Gallery, with support from Arts Council England, was delighted to host Kev Munday's homecoming exhibition, Stand Together.

A Solent University alumnus, Munday is listed by The Telegraph as one of the top five British artists to invest in. Showcase was honoured to support the creative development of this already highly successful artist, with a three-month residency in the gallery.

Kev Munday - Squash

Using bold lines and block colours, the vibrancy of Munday’s style creates an enthralling visual experience. Munday’s iconic crowd paintings depict a sea of unique individuals which pays tribute to the beauty found in diversity. Each individual portrait is equally valued, taken altogether, the effect is a striking vision of community which is more than the sum of its individual parts.

Stand Together was a living exhibition that evolved over the three month residency. Munday created work directly onto the walls of the gallery and responded directly to input from the public, schools and groups from the area. Repeat visits enabled visitors to watch the exhibition as it developed, and for anyone wondering what an artist gets up to in their studio all day, Stand Together gave them the opportunity to go and see. Alongside the works, the exhibition also included a number of ways to get involved; our co-creation space offered activities and workshops for everyone. Throughout the exhibition there were performances, music, and the chance to connect with others and experience what our community can be when we Stand Together.

Beyond the gallery walls, Munday took his work to the streets of Southampton. Large scale pieces, the artwork of which was inspired by school children’s response work, were presented on billboards around the city. There was also a series of bins designed and painted by Munday, making a trail through the city centre, funded by Go! Southampton.

Southampton had already started to Stand Together. In December 2017, residents of Southampton and beyond were invited to contribute to the #StandTogether Selfie Mural. Participants submitted their selfies for inclusion in one of Munday’s crowd paintings in the window of the gallery throughout January and February, together with a line of text about themselves. Many applicants used the call as an opportunity to voice what Southampton means to them, eg, “I was born in Russia, but moved to Southampton about 10 years ago and have made the city my home.”

During the exhibition there were the exciting ‘gallery takeovers’. We handed over the gallery to a number of interdisciplinary artists for a week each where they programmed and created a series of workshops, performances and events.

See our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for event details.


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