Across the Solent region, there are seemingly countless groups of people who express themselves through art.
However, around the Gosport area there hasn’t been a creative ‘hub’, like there is in Southsea or Emsworth, for quite some time.
Now, though, change could be on the horizon, as a group of artists from across the town have joined forces to try and form a community.
The Peninsular Artists formed back in June 2017 – starting out as a group of eight like-minded creatives hoping to put the arts back into the spotlight.
Since then, the group has grown in number, but remains focused on simply building up the town’s love of art.
This passion can come in many forms – for some it is a love of watercolour paint, while others prefer pastels, and some even express themselves through architecture.
One of the founding members, retired painter Steve Buggle, says the group met while at an art studio open day.
He says that the people who created the group had known of one another through previous events – but had never before explored the idea of setting up their own group, until realising they had a common understanding that something needed to be done for the Gosport peninsula.
Steve says: ‘We had all known each other for quite a while and had been taking part in Hampshire Open Studios events.
‘That’s where we met and realised there were quite a lot of different artists living in the peninsula area, each with their own interests and talents.
‘We wanted to create a platform where artists could share and talk about each other’s work, as well as art in general.’
The group holds talks on a monthly basis, allowing artists across the region to share their passion with others, as well as offering advice on how best to express themselves through a certain medium.
This, Steve says, is part of what makes the group so attractive, as it is not restricted to just doing sketches or watercolour paintings.
‘We have monthly talks on a range of subjects, such as British abstract paintings or architecture,’ he explains.
‘I studied fine art at university and was a painter for a number of years after that – but people in this group have a wide variety of artistic backgrounds.
‘We want art to be accessible to everyone in Gosport, because geographically the creativity is more widespread; this means that there has not been a creative hub like there is in Portsmouth, until now.’
But working to build a hub like this from scratch does not come without its challenges.
Not only are the artists still experiencing the standard growing pains of a new group, but the journey to establish itself means that it cannot jump straight to hosting events in the bigger venues.
Steve says: ‘It’s fair to say that we have faced significant hurdles in getting hold of venues for exhibitions – we’ve had quite a few of those already and many end up taking place in church halls.
‘But that hasn’t deterred us and we’re just going from strength to strength.
‘From a historical point of view, Portsmouth is more established in the creative arts, but as a group we want to build something similar here in the peninsula.
‘The Peninsular Artists group provides a great opportunity for artists to share ideas and exhibition plans. We recently had our Turning The Tide exhibition at Explosion! Museum to show our support for plastic campaigners.’
Since its inception, the group has almost doubled in size, currently boasting 14 members.
But to them, it’s not about becoming a group large enough in size to challenge the likes of Portsmouth; rather, it’s about creating an artistic community that has the platform it needs to thrive, from Gosport waterfront to Hill Head and Stubbington.
Fellow artist Gillian Gregory, from Hill Head, specialises in oil paintings, and loves painting land or seascapes, exploring her admiration of the natural world.
She believes that it is this relationship between all the artists in the area that will make a good foundation for the future of the Gosport peninsula’s creative juices.
She says: ‘Everyone gets along really well and we have the chance to share our ideas.
‘When we had our last exhibition there were hundreds of people that turned up to look at our work, which shows just how interested people in this area really are when it comes to art.
‘We previously had an exhibition at the Jack House Gallery in Old Portsmouth, and that allowed people to meet us and get to know us – as they did at the Turning The Tide exhibition.
‘Until now, I don’t think they’ve had this many people focused on bringing exhibitions to the Gosport area.’
Steve says: ‘As time goes by there are more and more people joining the Peninsular Artists – and I think there is very good reason for that.
‘People seem to like being collaborative, working and connecting with other artists in the surrounding area.
‘It gives you support for other artists and serves as a springboard for everyone to improve.
‘But the aim of the group isn’t simply to grow and have lots of members; for us, it’s about building a hub where creative people can express themselves, share ideas and meet new people.’
To find out more about what the Peninsular Artists have coming up, and how to join the group yourself, go to peninsularartists.com.
Exhibition helps to turn the tide on plastic
An art exhibition in Gosport which was organised by the Peninsular Artists put the spotlight firmly on the region’s plastic waste.
Last month’s Turning The Tide exhibition at Explosion! Museum used art to show how we are carelessly throwing away single-use plastics, at great cost to the marine ecosystem.
Some artists used paint, while others reused the plastic itself to get their message across.
Artist Gillian Gregory hopes that the exhibition will encourage people to take another look at what they throw out.
She says: ‘The exhibition was a tremendous success.
‘We had hundreds of people come in throughout the week we ran it – and I hope that many of them took the anti-plastic message home with them.’