Art gallery reopens and celebrates 40th anniversary with new exhibition, projects and the return of a popular dinosaur

AN ART gallery has reopened and is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a series of new commissions, projects and the return of a popular dinosaur.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 4:55 am

Aspex Gallery reopens today (Wednesday) with a new exhibition and opening of a multi-screen video.

The Gunwharf-based gallery will also bring back Southsea dinosaur Luna Park - created by Heather and Ivan Morison - this summer following a crowdfunding campaign in 2020. It burned down in October 2010.

Up to 200 supporters and Portsmouth City Council raised over £10,000 to fundraise for a bronze and augmented reality version of the much-loved dinosaur sculpture. The dinosaur will be unveiled online and in real life on July 31.

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Luna Park on Southsea Common, August 2010. Picture: Malcolm Wells (102445-8779)

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As part of the anniversary celebrations, Aspex will also digitally showcase artworks from exhibitions and projects by thousands of artists since it launched at the original Art Space Portsmouth site in Brougham Road in 1981.

This will be located in a new digital exhibition space at www.aspex.org.uk. The works will also reflect on pressing issues in 2021.

The gallery’s new website will act as an extension of its physical gallery, allowing global visitors to interact with programmes and adding variety to people who visit.

Meanwhile the first digital commission, launching tomorrow, features an online performance and text-based game called The Sea Changes Into Words created by artist Bettina Fung. The game invites visitors to wander a virtual building that is a reimagining of the new Aspex website.

Aspex will also launch its 40th-anniversary exhibition programme with In Search of Chemozoa - an immersive multi-screen video work and documentary by artist duo boredomresearch. It will run until July 18.

Joanne Bushnell, director of Aspex said: ‘We are so excited to be reopening for 2021, with our anniversary programme.

‘The arts and cultural sector continues to struggle for survival, particularly artists and freelancers. We hope to bring art, light and joy back to our audience and to Portsmouth, to lift the spirits and share the life enhancing power of creativity.’

Aspex will also continue its work in the community with young people in Portsea, including a new project with St Georges Primary School and a new Young Curators programme set to inspire the artists and cultural producers of the future.

Meanwhile on its social media channels, people will be able to revisit popular exhibitions by artists such as Mona Hatoum and Richard Long, and share community memories, favourite programmes and projects.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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