University of Portsmouth Library Joint Exhibition: 1st November to 20th December 2023
From Spreadsheets to Somerset sheets: Enter the Library
In the muted corridors of the University of Portsmouth Library, where time is measured by the turning of pages and a (reasonably) distant call of the seagulls, a joint exhibition weaves a narrative of change, creativity, and mutual support. Here, as my alter ego SouthSeaEyes, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Laura Simpson, a fellow alum and burgeoning voice in the art community; our journeys intersecting in a testament to the artistic spirit that followed our corporate exodus surrounding the pandemic.
UPDATE: Patric and the University of Portsmouth Library has kindly sent the soundcloud voice recordings, available here:
soundcloud recordings of Nusye and Laura
This Path, Onward
When my academic chapter closed in the late 90s, I would not have imagined my finance path would diverge to lead me back here – not with ledgers or management info decks – but with linoprints which speak of the deeper layer of me. The stoic Victor Hugo print (“Totor”), the disrobed elegance of “The Kharites”, and the thoughtful pose of the “Pensive” are fragments of my story, alongside “Consolation”, a monochromatic homage to Porchester-born Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman”, tying my narrative to Portsmouth’s cultural and writing tapestry.
Adjacent to my linoprints is the captivating work of the charming Laura Simpson, multi-media textile artist, whose hand-sewn textiles are as much narratives as they are art. Each thread and fabric is a visual story, a new chapter in her artistic journey. Like me, Laura thought her stay in Portsmouth will be brief, yet the sea’s whisper – subtle and enduring – persuaded us both to plant roots and flourish here.
Our careers, once defined by boardrooms and business strategies, shifted course amidst the pandemic’s tribulations. Subscribed to the local printmaking community, I expected a sanctuary but was met with restrained atmosphere, where warmth was often a little too subtle for me to find. This experience shaped my resolve to foster a supportive space for new artists, illustrated by the invitation to Laura to join me in the Open House for the Southsea Mini Art Trail 2023.
This commitment to support and mentor stems from a place of empathy and understanding. It is born from the struggles we have faced and the shared belief that the art community – any community – thrives when it is inclusive and uplifting. Our exhibition in these library halls is more than just a display of our work; it is a testament of our philosophy that in the vast ocean of art, there ought to be a current that carries all artists forward, regardless of where their journey began.
Here’s a crafted excerpt of Laura’s words for the University Library posts of our Exhibit:
“”The slow process of drawing thread through fabric by hand is what really brings me joy.”.”
— Laura Simpson , On Artistic Joy
Artistic Identity and Current Exhibit I’m Laura Simpson, known artistically as ‘I Tell Amelia’. My textile art, rooted in hand sewing, merges with my fascination for printmaking and natural dyeing. This library exhibit showcases my abstract fabric art, created from hand-dyed and repurposed materials, and notebooks featuring my Lino prints. A highlight is my summer solstice piece, a blend of organically dyed and quilted fabrics.
Signature Piece and Artistic Philosophy A standout piece in the exhibit is a tribute to the summer solstice, crafted from organically dyed, hand-quilted fabrics. This work embodies the essence of my artistic philosophy: giving new life and meaning to materials, often overlooked and discarded in our contemporary world.
Textile Journey and Storytelling My textile journey, reignited by online quilting inspirations, began in childhood, learning from family. I see fabric as a narrative medium, embodying both precious memories and the modern throwaway culture. I often transform old materials, weaving new stories into them.
Reflective Return to University Revisiting the University of Portsmouth Library after two decades, I connect my early academic interests to my current artistic path. The last year has been a healing journey, using hand sewing as solace from a taxing career.
Gratitude and Community Support My thanks to Nusye [of] SouthSeaEyes for her support in Portsmouth’s creative scene. Her guidance has been vital in my growth as an artist, underscoring the need for nurturing artistic communities.
“Fabric has become both essential to us and entirely disposable, a paradox that draws me to use fabric that has had previous lives.”
— Laura , On Textile Waste
This exhibit at the University of Portsmouth Library is our way of showing that the art world is rich with possibility, where each creation is another step on the path and every artists’ presence enriches the landscape. It is here, in the University of Portsmouth Library that we invite you to explore these stories of resilience – and to remember that the art we create is as much a journey as it is a destination.
So then, let this exhibition and place where academic and creative visions are nurtured, be the ground zero where new artistic phase can bloom. Let it be known that the halls once echoed with finance, economics, and geography subjects for both of us now resonate with the murmurations of lino prints paper and the soft rustle of textiles.
Hearty thanks to Patrick Galway, the University of Portsmouth Library’s own masterful, exhibited painter. His patience with our setup shenanigans was nothing short of saintly – akin to a sagely brother bear, skillfully guiding his playful but focused peers, all the while maintaining the decorum of his revered library den. His ability to blend artistic insight with meticulous order made our experience both enriching and delightfully smooth. Patrick has also supplied most of the pictures shown taken at the library.
This is The Call To Action (and maybe a tiny, little sign of wisdom):
The exhibit runs from 1st November to 20th December during library hours. See the display at the University Library, and immerse yourself in a unique exhibition showcasing a blend of printmaking and textile art. As students and fellow alumni, this is your opportunity to explore, ask questions, and connect with the artworks that narrate our journeys. We’re here to inspire and be inspired, to share in the richness of creative exploration.
We strongly encourage you to delve into your own artistic ambitions and to join us in celebrating the transformative power of art. Let’s foster a community where artists and art lovers can thrive together. Engage with the works, share your insights, and become an integral part of this dynamic story.
Remember, creativity and resilience are the heartbeats of our community, and together, we can nurture and sustain this spirit. Connect with both Laura and myself on Instagram at @southseaeyes and @i.tell.amelia.art to continue the conversation and to stay updated on our artistic endeavours. Let’s make the most of this vibrant exhibition and ensure the spirit of artistry thrives within and beyond our university walls.