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Small Faces Open Exhibition

People's Portrait Project

3 March - 21 April 2017


In the Small Faces postcard portrait exhibition every single submission was shown. This participatory art project was created by everyone, for everyone, and transformed the gallery into a huge installation of portraits - a sea of faces.

The response to the open call for submissions was phenomenal. Over 7,000 postcards were created by people of all ages, from 2 to 92, and from all walks of life. Local and national artists, international groups, communities and schools from the region and beyond were all exhibited alongside one another with equal value - a collective act of creativity. Click on the image above to take a virtual tour of the exhibition.  

The Showcase Gallery team, together with local artists, delivered workshops to schools and community groups to encourage even the most reluctant to try their hand at creating art.

The diversity of talent in the exhibition was extraordinary. The sheer number of works transformed the gallery - a reflection of society in one space.

Examples of some of the postcard portraits

Download the contributing artists booklet

Expectations of the Past

by Louise Weir

16 December 2016 - 11 February 2017

Private view: Friday 6 January, 6-8pm

Louise Weir - Expectation of the Past

This new and recent work is an investigative journey of memory, identity and loss informed by Dickens' novel Great Expectations, which examines very similar themes. Exploring the text helped Louise examine her own personal history and emotional landscape, creating a dialogue between the text, isolated memories and specific events at the time of making.

Louise has repeatedly visited locations from Dickens' novel and those featured in her own poetry. They draw on memories of real characters and locations around her childhood home in the north west of England.

In her work, Louise creates an emotional landscape as well as a physical one. Elements fragment, reappear and echo to create a mysterious place where the stories and memories overlap, meet and converse; 'real' memories and 'fictional' narratives that co-exist in parallel landscapes converge.

At each location Louise collected new items to draw with, such as grasses, seed pods, flowers, feathers, earth and discarded items particular to that space. Using water from streams she mixed mud with paint, letting rain fall on the artwork; pressing flowers and printing from them. This was a vital part of capturing the magical quality of each location to convey that drawings are not just a response to a place, they are bound up with it.

At first, Louise drew in sketchbooks, moving on to larger sheets of paper and pots of paint over time, and progressing from twigs and grasses to small branches and larger decorating brushes. These larger drawings acted as a starting point for further investigation and development, both in the print studio at Solent University's School of Art Design and Fashion, and in her studio in London Fields, Hackney.

Her response to location is informed by loss, memories and a new appreciation of what can be tied up in the memory of a 'place', especially one we call home. This dialogue between past and present is reflected in Louise's methodology, which brings together a breadth of traditional and digital processes.

Louise chose to print all texts using letterpress - a printing method rarely used commercially today, but common practice in the nineteenth century. She used a Baskerville font (an 'old style' serif text) to capture the mood and feel of a literary work. Monotype was cast by Stanley Lane at his type foundry and workshop in Stroud, Gloucestershire, a place knee deep in history, upholding a craft and tradition that was once a mainstay of the print industry. When type is being made, the room is very hot and noisy, with a rich mixture of smells and sounds and textures. Type is usually returned and smelted down for future commissions, but the text used for Louise's show will be retained as a working artwork and also for posterity, as this will be one of the last small jobs Stanley Lane takes on.

Louise's poems were printed at the London Centre for Book Arts on a Stephenson Blake 25 printing press, with the help of Simon Goode, on paper supplied by GF Smith.

After the exhibition closed Showcase Gallery on 11 February, it is touring to:

  • The Gallery at Bank Quay House, 2017
  • The Dickens Museum, 2018

You can find out more about Louise and her work on her website and on Twitter.

Arts Council England logo

This exhibition was funded by the Arts Council England

The Caravan Gallery

The Caravan Gallery is a collaboration between artists and photographers Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale, who use photography to document what they call the 'reality and surreality' of everyday life. Founded in 2000, The Caravan Gallery is a mobile exhibition space and itinerant social club on wheels housed in a 1969 mustard-coloured caravan. The venue has travelled thousands of miles taking contemporary art to unexpected locations and tens of thousands of people in Britain and abroad.

Find out more about The Caravan Gallery

extra{ordinary} - Photographs of Britain by the Caravan Gallery

21 October - 1 December

Solent Showcase is delighted to be hosting extra(ordinary), an exhibition of over 100 photographs made over the last 15 years that show the extraordinary in the everyday - an extraordinary record of social change since the millennium.

The Caravan Gallery - W Bruce Ship Painters Fraserburgh 2014 

In addition to the {extra}ordinary exhibition at the Showcase Gallery, The Caravan Gallery is also running exhibitions and events around Southampton city centre:

Southampton Pride of Place Project

108 East Street (next to Perry's art shop), Southampton SO14 3HD

Launch event: Thursday 3 November 2016, 5-8pm
Closing celebration: Wednesday 30 November 2016, 5-8pm

To complement their extra{ordinary} exhibition at Solent Showcase, artists Jan Williams and Chris Teasdale are turning an empty shop into a month-long alternative visitor information centre and participatory exhibition about the city. The project is open to everyone who would like to get involved and will grow day-by-day as people contribute stories, facts, objects, photographs, images, memories and memorabilia about Southampton to build a multifaceted picture of the city. The project will result in a publication which will aim to encapsulate Southampton as seen by the people who live and work here.

Find out more

Please check The Caravan Gallery website for events and updates.


Southampton Caravan Gallery Tour

During Autumn 2016, The Caravan Gallery are visiting six sites across the city to publicise extra{ordinary} at Solent Showcase Gallery, and to encourage people to get involved in the Southampton Pride of Place Project in the city centre. The exhibition inside this unique mobile gallery includes photographs from all over Britain, as well as Southampton. Details of dates and locations can be found on The Caravan Gallery website


Pass it on

International artists in residence exhibition 

3 September – 8 October 2016

Private View: 2 September 2016, 6pm – 8pm

The Graduate Artists in Residence Scheme at Showcase Gallery has been running for five years, with more than 100 applicants and over 20 residencies awarded, the aim is to ease the artists’ transition from academic to professional life.

For the first four years the opportunity was open to final year students from all the creative courses at Southampton Solent University. This year the scheme has been developed in partnership with TNCE-Trans-National Creative Exchange, a project led by Southampton Solent University, School of Art Design and Fashion – Co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

Work by Helene Nivesse

The scheme brings together international partners including: Solent Showcase Gallery, CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Rencontres Audiovisuelles and China Academy of Art/Shanghai Institute of Design. Graduates from China, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and UK have been invited to apply for the two months summer residency. 

Work by Aine Kelly

A small grant and access to studio space throughout the summer were offered to the successful applicants in order to produce work for an exhibition – Pass It On – the artists thus benefitting from a real-life professional experience with a contemporary gallery. For the next following months the artwork will travel around the globe and be exhibited in all the TNCE partner countries.

The selected 10 artists are:

  • Kate Aries – Southampton Solent University, UK
  • Liang Chaoyu - China Academy of Art, Shanghai Institute of Design - China
  • Sam Hiscock - Southampton Solent University, UK
  • Áine Kelly - CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Charlotte Landry - Rencontres Audiovisuelles, France
  • Hélène Nivesse - Rencontres Audiovisuelles, France
  • Gerard O’Callaghan - CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Ireland
  • Danique Valstar - De Haagse Hogeschool – the Netherlands
  • Amy Wright - Southampton Solent University, UK
  • Que Xueyin - China Academy of Art, Shanghai Institute of Design – China

The title of the show is inspired by the unstoppable modern interchange of ideas between artists around the globe, reflecting the benefits of collaboration and art’s intrinsic power to keep pushing world forward. But the purpose is not the distance, the purpose is the movement, the seeking, the finding and the growing.

Myth and Reality of the American Western Homestead

Sarah Dryden
28 April 2016 – 18 June 2016
Preview: 27 April 2016

Ghost/HostGHOST/HOST: Myth and Reality of the American Western Homestead is the latest exhibition at our Showcase gallery. It explores the historical facts, myths and mediation of the early US settlers in the American West.

Part of an ongoing research project by photographer Sarah Dryden, the work seeks to explore the disparity between fictionalised depictions of the homestead in the Western States of the US and the realities faced by early settlers in relation to climate, geography, elevation, materials, design and construction methods.


The town of Bodie is one of five sites investigated in the research. It is said to be the most notorious of the California ghost towns with tales of gold digging, shootings and a narrative that any Wild West cowboy film would be proud of. More recently, Bodie has been used as a tourist destination, a museum site, a film set, advertising and music video backdrop, not to mention its direct links with Clint Eastwood’s fictional town of Lago in the film High Plains Drifter.

This exhibition also draws on the fiction of Edgar Allan Poe’s Ghost Host – which was recently reconstructed within Disney’s Haunted Mansion – and Victor Burgin’s Situational Aesthetics that looks to the built environment as a theatre of wishes and fears past, present and future, and the haunting of an environment by history, memory and fantasy. Sarah Dryden is a senior lecturer in the School of Art, Design and Fashion at Solent University. 

For more information contact

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