New portraits on picture of Portsmouth’s past

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A CAST of characters from Portsmouth’s past are making a splash on a Southsea wall.

Painters have added historic figures including a suffragette, a marine and a witch to the Strand City mural map in Clarendon Road.

Mark Lewis and fellow artist Dina Kalogeridi in front of some of the new figures which they have been adding to the mural in Waverley Road.

Mark Lewis and fellow artist Dina Kalogeridi in front of some of the new figures which they have been adding to the mural in Waverley Road.

But it’s not just movers and shakers who can appear on the mural, according to project leader Mark Lewis.

He said Portsmouth business and residents had helped pay for the painting in exchange for featuring on the mural themselves.

‘Some local people and businesses have been sponsoring us to actually be on the mural,’ said Mark.

‘So we’ve got things like local builders vans’ pictured and the names of people’s loved ones on graveyard headstones.

‘One man sponsored us £50 because he swam to the Isle of Wight and back and wanted to be on the beach with his hands up.’

Mark said more sponsors and buildings could be added to the mural for decades to come.

‘You could spend the next 20 or 30 years adding to the map because there’s so much space on there,’ he said.

The work is part of an ongoing repaint of the mural which started five years ago after water from an overflow pipe and cracks had damaged the original map from the late 90s.

Mark, who runs the Lodge Arts Centre in Victoria Park, said about half the estimated £30,000 required for the project had come from sponsors, Portsmouth City Council and the now defunct Southsea Town Council.

He said more than 40 people had worked on the repaint, including ‘local artists, work experience kids and people walking past’.

‘It’s very much a community project and it gives a boost to the whole area,’ he added. ‘Literally every time we’re down there people are looking at it, taking photos and saying how wonderful it is.’

Another 10 to 15 historical characters would be added to the mural over the next year.

‘We want to show the diversity of architecture in the city,’ added Mark.

The mural was painted using a technique called trompe l’oeil, meaning ‘trick the eye’ to make it look more three dimensional.

Among the figures on the mural map are a pair of Romans, paying tribute to Portchester Castle – one of the oldest Roman forts in Britain.

Further along is Hannah Snell, a woman who dressed like a man and joined the marines without being found out. Next to her is John the Painter, a Scot who tried to blow up the city’s naval base for the cause of American independence. Also pictured is architect Thomas Ellis Owen and suffragette Hertha Ayrton, who was the first woman in Britain to get a degree. Nearby is Helen Duncan, the last person tried for witchcraft in Britain in 1944.

And Portsmouth founder Jean de Gisors, Sailors’ Rest pioneer Sarah Robinson and ragged schools founder John Pounds.