Hundreds of people flock to Southampton City Art Gallery for opening of latest exhibition

'Creative Connections Southampton' at Southampton City Art Gallery opened on Thursday evening (25 May) with over 40 works from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, together with paintings from Southampton’s own art collections

Creative Connections Southampton portraits

Hundreds of people came to the official launch event of 'Creative Connections Southampton' at Southampton City Art Gallery on Thursday evening, 25 May. Celebrating figures with connections to Southampton, the show features Jane Austen, Craig David, Spitfire designer R.J. Mitchell, Chris Packham, Alan Shearer, Captain of the Titanic Edward John Smith, the city’s first female Mayor Lucia Foster Welch, and a recently acquired portrait of the Paralympic athlete Aaron Phipps, born in Totton, Southampton.

Drawing inspiration from both of these nationally important collections, art students from Cantell School in Southampton collaborated with Hampshire-based artist Pete Codling to explore portraiture through drawing, using charcoal to capture people they chose to represent the City. Their new portraits will be displayed alongside the collections from both galleries.

Leader of the Council, Councillor Satvir Kaur, said:

"Southampton City Art Gallery continues to put our creative city on the map, this time with a collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery.

"An important part of our legacy from Southampton’s UK City of Culture bid, as well as our current ambitions to become a UNICEF Child Friendly City, is to inspire future generations. It’s great to work with the National Portrait Gallery and our own internationally renowned collections to give students from Cantell School the opportunity to develop new skills and create their own new works.

"I hope people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy this exciting and inspiring new exhibition.”

Harry Kutty, Headteacher at Cantell School, said:

“Creative Connections has been a project that has provided our young people with a fantastic opportunity to work closely with artist Pete Codling and Southampton City Art Gallery, funded by National Portrait Gallery. This has given our students a platform in which they can exhibit and showcase not only their work, but the links of Southampton and those individuals portrayed, and what it means to them.”

A vibrant programme of free activities and events will also support the exhibition. This includes portrait drawing workshops for adults and children led by project artist Pete Codling and regional artists Alys Scott-Hawkins and Jo Bressloff, plus:

  • An Art summer school for 11–16-year-olds
  • Talks from Southampton Archives about some of the figures portrayed in the exhibition
  • A screening of the film, The Guernica Children

All these activities are free thanks to funding via the Creative Connections project.

Creative Connections is a National Portrait Gallery project in partnership with Southampton City Art Gallery which has been underway over the last two years. Creative Connections is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund with the generous support of the Palley family.

Help us to continue our work and ensure that great art, from visiting exhibitions and artists, and from Southampton’s own collections remain available to all by supporting Southampton City Art Gallery.

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