Here's the woman who has steered Portsmouth's Aspex gallery through 20 years of being at the forefront of art in the city

Joanne Bushnell, has been director at Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, for 20 years.'Picture: Sarah Standing (111119-1533)
Joanne Bushnell, has been director at Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, for 20 years.'Picture: Sarah Standing (111119-1533)
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THE director of a Portsmouth art gallery has notched up 20 years in the job – and says that her aim is to ‘get people talking and thinking’.

Joanne Bushnell has been at the helm of the Aspex Gallery since 1999, overseeing its growth, including its move from the converted Methodist church in Brougham Road, Southsea – which is now Artspace – to the Vulcan Building, where it has been since 2006.

Joanne Bushnell'Picture:Sarah Standing (111119-1546)

Joanne Bushnell'Picture:Sarah Standing (111119-1546)

Aspex is a hub which has the aim of supporting local artists, colleges and universities to encourage and engage with the creative process.

Jo said: ‘If I look back at the last 20 years, it has been an extraordinary rollercoaster.

‘What is fundamental to us is to support emerging artists and to reveal the creative process. That is our mission.’

Aspex started as a small organisation but Jo saw real potential in developing because of the growth in modern art.

The centre aims to be involved in the community with many workshops and showcases that are accessible to a wide variety of ages and abilities. 

There have been many high and lows over Jo’s 20 years.

Funding cuts to the creative sector meant that in 2011 the charity lost half of its funding because of the financial crisis.Their funding comes from a variety of sources including the Arts Council, local authorities, trusts and foundations, corporate supporters and local businesses. 

Aspex works a lot with local schools and colleges and the University of Portsmouth. 

Platform, its current exhibition, showcases recent graduate work from six different universities across the south. 

Larger projects are often difficult because of the national economic environment but Jo said: ‘We have bigger ambitions to make a noise, to get people talking and thinking. It’s an invitation for people to open up their eyes and open up their minds.

‘It is really important not to be inward looking on the island but to reach out and to connect with people and learn.’

Jo is excited about the future and hopes the welcoming, creative space will strengthen the Portsmouth community.

Aspex is free to visit and is always looking for more visitors and volunteers.

For more information visit: www.aspex.org.uk/