A Closer Look at Aspex

Charlie IcetonPONToonLeave a Comment


Over the coming months the University of Portsmouth’s CCI Department will be getting ‘up close and personal’ with all 11 partners of PONToon (Partnership Opportunities using New Technologies fostering sOcial and ecOnomic inclusioN), an Interreg 5A France (Channel) England research project running June 2017 – November 2020.


This week we’re visiting Portsmouth, the United Kingdom's only island city, which is home to not one but two PONToon partners! We live here (of course) and so do Aspex, the city's leading contemporary art gallery.

Portsmouth is known for its maritime heritage and Historic Dockyard. Despite being relatively small, Portsmouth has the highest population density in the UK with 5100 people per kilometer - 11 times the national average. Not surprisingly, socio economic deprivation is one of the biggest problems in the city, with extreme divides between the wealthiest and poorest communities.

You don’t have to wander far from the glorious Southsea beach to realise that the city has problems. A review of UK crime statistics (excluding Scotland) shows the Portsmouth South constituency as having the 16th highest crime level nationally, with a whopping 37% of incidents being anti-social behavior.

Portsmouth also has among the highest levels of NEET’s (not in education, employment or training) in young people aged 16-18 years, which is not a complete surprise given 22.3% of the city’s children aged 0-19 are living in poverty, with child poverty rising even higher in some parts of the city. In Charles Dickens ward, for example, it hits a worrying 44.2%.

Double Dutch by Ben Cove (2016)

Thankfully it’s not all bad news in Portsmouth. Aspex has a 37-year track history of providing platforms and support for artists at the early stages of their career. At the core of the organisation sits their Participation & Learning Programme. Aspex believe in the fundamental right everyone has to access the arts, and the importance of this to our physical and emotional wellbeing. They deliver a diverse range of projects, which sit around the ethos of ‘Artists Start at Aspex’:

“By engaging people at all stages in their lives, we can inspire them to become artists, creative minds and critical thinkers.”Aspex

In 2010 Aspex delivered a young curators project, Futurators. Futurators was all about providing young people with the skills and resources to empower them and develop confidence and self esteem. This model is now used throughout Aspex's work including as a mechanism to engage young women in the digital sector for PONToon.

As the only arts organisation involved in PONToon, Aspex’s approach is very different to the other partners and we’re looking forward to learning about their experiences and their way of working.

Aspex's Futurators group

In 2010 Aspex delivered a young curators project, Futurators. Futurators was all about providing young people with the skills and resources to empower them and develop confidence and self esteem. This model is now used throughout Aspex's work including as a mechanism to engage young women in the digital sector for PONToon.

As the only arts organisation involved in PONToon, Aspex’s approach is very different to the other partners and we’re looking forward to learning about their experiences and their way of working.

Aspex's Generate - arts workshop for people with dementia.

So that’s the news from Portsmouth. If you’re in the area, consider visiting the dockyard, where you’ll find the National Museum of the Royal Navy, home to Nelson’s famed ship-of-the-line HMS Victory. Be sure to pop into the fabulous Hotwalls Studios too, home to a thriving set of art studios and a lovely café - The Canteen - all situated within a gorgeous heritage site.

In fact, why not make it a day of arts and culture by visiting Aspex itself and discovering what the people of Portsmouth think about their city in the gallery's current participatory exhibition 'Postcards from my Neighbourhood'. Details on where to find them can be found here!

Find out more about Aspex:

This newsletter was created by Eastleigh Borough Council in collaboration with with the University of Portsmouth Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries.

Copyright © 2018 pontoon@port.ac.uk, All rights reserved. 
We send relevant information to important contacts who would like to be involved with our PONToon Project. Don't worry we won't bombard you, and you can "unsubscribe" at anytime 

Our mailing address is:
pontoon@port.ac.uk
Eldon Building, University of Portsmouth
Winston Churchill Avenue
PortsmouthHampshire PO1 2DJ
United Kingdom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *