Southsea Common Luna Park dinosaur 10-year anniversary to be marked with virtual reality and celebration events
A popular sculpture of a dinosaur towered 53ft (16m) over the seafront when it was brought to the city on July 31, 2010, created by internationally renowned artists Heather and Ivan Morison.
The ultrasaurus artwork - called Luna Park - was installed by Aspex Gallery and enjoyed by residents and visitors alike who visited, climbed on and photographed the beast.
It took three months to make in a Serbian car factory, and had to be transported in six pieces 2,000 miles by ship and lorry from Serbia to Southsea.
Residents were shocked when the steel and polyester sculpture was unexpectedly destroyed by a blaze due to an electrical fault on October 1, preventing a tour set to take it to Colchester and Cardiff.
This summer, Aspex is celebrating 10 years since Luna Park by collaborating with the artists on a virtual reality experience of the dinosaur on Southsea Common to bring it alive again and bring together the memories of those who enjoyed the artwork.
Joanne Bushnell, director of the Aspex Gallery at Gunwharf Quays, said: ‘It’s been quite difficult and dark times really and we just thought this is an opportunity to share a bit of light.
‘It’s an opportunity to celebrate a project which over the years has clearly gone to the hearts of people in the city.
‘It’s something people still talk about 10 years on and we thought this is an opportunity to celebrate that fact.’
Luna Park 10 Years will go live on July 31, at the same time as Aspex launches its Crowdfunder campaign, raising money for a permanent tribute to the ultrasaurus.
Combined public and Portsmouth City Council support will go towards commissioning a bronze sculpture to be installed on the seafront in 2021 and an interactive photo archive that will keep memories alive as part of this city’s history.
Also supported by Portsmouth Creates and the University of Portsmouth, the programme of activities will include a ‘Do-you-think-they-saw-us’ arts trail in the windows of independent businesses and a dinosaur cake competition in partnership with the Tenth Hole tea rooms.
There will be the opportunity to watch Heather and Ivan Morison in conversation about the project via Zoom and a screening of ‘An Unreachable Country. A Long Way To Go’, the film which shows the making of the ultrasaurus sculpture in Serbia.
Aspex’s Learning Team will be running a series of free activities through the #AspexatHome digital programme on the @aspex_takepart Instagram page, and running a special art project with St George’s Beneficial C of E Primary School in Portsea, which will result in an exhibition at Aspex when the building reopens to the public.