New piece of public art is a sign that gallery is at heart of the city

QUESTION Food for thought in the first message to go up on the new sign
QUESTION Food for thought in the first message to go up on the new sign

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COMMUTERS will be greeted by an ever-changing series of messages as part of an art gallery’s latest exhibition.

An illuminated sign created to look like an old cinema marquee now dominates the skyline over The Hard Interchange in Portsmouth.

PRIME SPOT Public art is at The Hard

PRIME SPOT Public art is at The Hard

The sign is a new off-site sculpture commissioned by the Aspex gallery.

A changing series of messages will appear on the sign, seen by thousands of train, bus and ferry users every day.

The first one to be displayed is the question: ‘How should I live?’

Clive Caswell, Aspex gallery’s exhibitions manager, said: ‘It is really beautiful.

‘It is exactly as I had hoped it would be.

‘We were looking at having another off-site piece, but not on the same scale as the dinosaur we had on Southsea Common.

‘We spent some time looking at various sites in the city and we eventually went for The Hard.

‘It’s been quite a few months of hard work.

‘It is always very satisfying when a project you have been working on comes to fruition.

‘We are encouraging local people, schools and community groups to submit ideas on what the sign could say.’

Some of the messages to appear on the board will be chosen by the artist, S. Mark Gubb, and others taken from suggestions by residents.

Aspex has distributed postcards around the city for residents to fill out and submit their own messages.

The gallery hopes the sculpture, titled Traveller in the Dark, could stay at The Hard for up to four years.

Mr Caswell added: ‘It’s really a piece of work in three parts. Above the sign there is a dagger which is suspended by a bunch of balloons.

‘This is based on the tale The Sword of Damocles.

‘It plays on the theme of being careful what you wish for. And above that is a star.’

The sculpture was put up on April 21.