A Historical Haven: My Collaboration with Hotwalls Studios and Veterans Outreach Support for Printmaking Workshops at The Round Tower

As a local and independent printmaker based in Southsea, known by the nom de plume SouthSeaEyes, I felt compelled to bring together Hotwalls Studios, run by Portsmouth City Council, and the Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) charity. This collaboration resulted in the launch of printmaking workshops for veterans at The Round Tower, a Grade I listed building and historical fortification at the entrance of Portsmouth harbour. The tower’s rich history and strategic importance make it the perfect location to host these workshops, aimed at helping veterans engage with the creative process.

King Henry V ordered the construction of the original wooden tower between 1418 and 1426. It played a crucial role in the defense of the harbour, with an emergency chain built in 1422 that could be raised to block entry. The wooden structure was eventually replaced by a stone tower in the 1490s, with additional ramparts connecting it to the square tower in the 1680s. The upper section of the tower was rebuilt during the Napoleonic wars, and between 1847 and 1850, the roof was modified to serve as a gun platform. (I sourced these from both geograph.org.uk and Wikipedia)

Portsmouth City Council purchased the tower in 1958, and in 2011, its interior was converted into an exhibition gallery. Under the banner of Hotwalls Studios, The Round Tower now hosts exhibitions and is open to the public throughout the year. This once defensive stronghold now serves as a haven for creativity and engagement, making it a meaningful venue for the VOS printmaking workshops I organised with the support of Hotwalls Studios.

The VOS charity, under the guidance of CEO Ian Millen, focuses on providing assistance to service veterans, and these Wellbeing workshops, run by Wendy Pearson, are an integral part of their outreach efforts. By conducting the workshops at The Round Tower, the charity not only offers veterans a creative outlet but also immerses them in a historical setting that reflects the significance of their service. This unique location allows veterans to connect with the tower’s past, drawing strength and inspiration from the fortification that once protected the harbour.

Portsmouth harbour itself has been a key location for the Royal Navy since the Middle Ages. Its strategic position on the English Channel and natural protection from the Isle of Wight made it an ideal location for naval defense. The fortifications surrounding the harbour were once considered among the most extensive in the world, with Old Portsmouth standing as a walled town for much of its history.

By choosing The Round Tower for the VOS printmaking workshops, I – along with VOS and Hotwalls Studios – am embracing the rich heritage of the area, whilst also demonstrating the importance of historical preservation. The tower stands as a symbol of resilience and strength, qualities that are deeply relevant to the veterans participating in the workshops. The creative process can be a powerful healing tool for those who have served, and the historical setting of The Round Tower provides a poignant backdrop to this therapeutic journey.

So yes, The Round Tower is a highly relevant and meaningful location for the printmaking workshops I organised, supported by the Hotwalls Studios Team (yes, you, Amy & Harry, thankyou), and facilitated by the Veterans Outreach Support charity. Its historical significance, coupled with its role in Portsmouth’s defense, creates a unique atmosphere that fosters creativity and healing for the veterans involved. The tower’s transformation from a military stronghold to a haven for artistic expression reflects the journey many veterans experience as they navigate the transition from military to civilian life. By hosting the workshops at this remarkable site, we create an unforgettable experience for veterans, honouring their service while helping them engage with their own creative potential.

To the greater collective,
Your printmaking guide,

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