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Going underground: street art in Hampshire

It's no oil painting, but it is an immersive art experience you won't want to miss. Here’s the latest on Hampshire’s super-hot new street art exhibition.

Emerging from the underground, street art is having a bit of a moment locally. Thrust into the national press after being mistaken for Banksy, since Muddy’s last feature, Hendog has been busy in Winchester and beyond with more headline-grabbing works celebrating our local pandemic heroes and independent businesses. And locals (including us!) have been absolutely loving them.

My Dog Sighs

Now, there’s another superbly engaging British street artist whose work you can see right here in Hampshire. If you’re a fan of the medium (or fancy broadening your artistic horizons), you’re going to want to hotfoot it down to Portsmouth.

On the street art scene for over a decade, the artist My Dog Sighs (above) has a massive UK and international following, especially in Israel and Japan.

His commissions include Wynwood Walls, Miami; Amsterdam Street Art Museum; Digital Vision, Shenzhen, China; Coventry Transport Museum and Discerning Eye, London. And he’s also a favourite of celeb art-lover Matt Damon.

Urban exhibition

Taking over a derelict multi-storey ballroom, My Dog Sighs has put together an immersive exhibition in Portsmouth. It’s inhabited by his own ‘creatures’, dubbed his ‘Quiet Little Voices’.

For the first time, with this exhibition, he’s moved from static street art to sculpture, fusing light and sound installations with photorealistic paintings and naïve characters that are both charming and melancholic.

Hope and struggle

“Like us, these creatures are not perfect nor are their lives perfect,” says the street artist. “They struggle, they make mistakes, they fail. But like us too, they don’t give up. Even among the decay they use their creativity to find hope – a powerful message in these turbulent times.”

Timely words and visual images indeed in what has, for many of us, felt like a post-apocalyptic pandemic.

Don’t be put off if this isn’t your usual kind of art show. A total break from the norm and an absolute dream for any arty kids in the family, My Dog Sighs has worked with sound experts from Portsmouth University and a creative lighting company to make the installation a really immersive experience.

You don’t need to be an expert in street art either. A steward will guide you in and give you the 101 on what it’s all about.

Impressed? Why not rope in your kid’s art teacher? My Dog Sighs will release a feature length documentary and book about the project and a free educational pack for teachers and students with “creative tools that find hope in difficult situations” and “show how they can use art to empower their local communities”.

‘We Shelter Here Sometimes’ by My Dog Sighs is on now until Sunday 1 August at the derelict ballroom, 18 Osborne Road, Portsmouth, PO5 3LT: £10 adults / £5 concession / Children go free. Advance tickets are sold out but walk-ups are welcome.

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