Hampshire Cultural Trust

Welcome to Hampshire

This map pinpoints some of the most exciting cultural venues in Hampshire.

We will showcase, connect and empower its creative economy



Pandora’s Box has opened at Milestones Museum in Basingstoke, releasing mythical LEGO beasts onto the museum’s streets.

From the six-headed Hydra to Pegasus the winged horse, the mighty Cyclops to the Hippogriff of Harry Potter fame, this new LEGO adventure challenges visitors young and old to track down the escaped beasts and recapture them. With the wise Owl of Athena on hand to guide them, visitors to Milestones can use the accompanying Mythical Beasts at Milestones app and trail on their quest to find the beasts, return them to Pandora’s Box and save the day.

There are 30 incredible LEGO beasts and magical items to see at Milestones, all built by professional LEGO building company, Bright Bricks. Each model has been painstakingly put together by hand, taking hundreds of man hours and over one million LEGO bricks to complete. Six builders took 122 hours to complete the six-headed Hydra, using 177,000 bricks, while Vladdigor the Chimera, a fire-breathing monster with a goat’s body, lion’s head and serpent’s tail, took a team of people 117 hours and 135,210 bricks to build.

In addition to the live-action Mythical Beasts activity trail, there are plenty of other LEGO activities to enjoy at Milestones, including a LEGO play area, mosaic activity and make-and-take LEGO Minifigures. LEGO fans can also come along to our big build weekends on Saturdays 24 February, 3 and 10 of March and take part in a live-build to construct a giant LEGO Greek temple.

Mythical Beasts runs until 15 April 2018 and is included in Milestones standard admission charge; a small, additional charge applies to the LEGO Minifigure make-and-take activity. With their Milestones ticket, visitors can enjoy unlimited trips to the museum for 12 months – more details are available online.



A new, contemporary art show, #ArtAfterTurner, created by local young and emerging artists has recently opened its doors at the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery in Basingstoke.

Inspired by Hampshire Cultural Trust’s recent major exhibition, Turner and the Sun, art students from the University of Southampton’s Winchester School of Art and Basingstoke College of Technology have come together over the last eight weeks with professional artist James Aldridge. Together they have created new work in response to paintings of the sun by the great artist.

Funded by Arts Council England, this is the first time the museum has brought together a group of young people to respond creatively to one of HCT’s major exhibitions. The opportunity has given them a real insight into the demands and challenges of working as a professional artist, with the reward being their first professional standard show within an important, high profile gallery.

Contemporary visual artist Aldridge, who has also been commissioned to create new work in response to paintings by Turner, has provided the group with insight and support as they embark on their own creative journey. The end result promises to be a bold and varied mix of art forms, including film, photography and textiles.

Beth Gibbs, a student from Winchester School of Art, commented: “It has been an amazing and insightful experience working with this group and we have all had a lot of fun producing the work that is on display at the exhibition. The collaboration between artist, student and museum has been an exciting combination that every individual has taken a lot out of. We have all learned new processes and been able to teach other about our own.”

Rebecca Starkiss, Course Director for Art and Design at Basingstoke College of Technology, said "This collaborative project has been an amazing opportunity for our students to develop their artistic skills and gain first-hand experience of working within the creative industry. They have benefited hugely from valuable support and insight from artist, James Aldridge."

#ArtAfterTurner runs at the Willis Museum until 24 February. To find out more about the young people’s process in bringing the show together, follow them at @Artafterturner on Instagram. Watch the video from the exhibition launch now.

Robyn Bolam Announced as Hampshire Poet 2018

Following a county-wide competition launched on National Poetry Day 2017, the hunt for Hampshire’s Poet Laureate 2018 is over.

Robyn Bolam, from the New Forest, was chosen as Hampshire Poet 2018 from a strong field of writers who applied for the sought-after post from all over the county. The competition, which is led by Hampshire Cultural Trust, runs every other year and aims to foster local writing talent. Robyn will be commissioned to write poetry highlighting the trust’s wide and varied exhibition and project work during 2018. Her poems will be widely shared and she will act as an advocate for the power of reading and creative writing.

On hearing the news, Robyn said: ‘Being chosen as Hampshire Poet 2018 is the best New Year present ever. I’ve been passionate about reading and writing poetry since primary school, so being able to pass on my enthusiasm to people of all ages, across the county, is a wonderful privilege. Whatever your interest in poetry, I’m looking forward to meeting you – and if you aren’t interested yet, I'll do my best to change that!’

Robyn is the author of four collections published by specialist poetry publisher, Bloodaxe Books. She is also an experienced writing workshop tutor and project leader. In her recent Ferry Tales project, she worked with various writers, musicians and a photographer in mainland ports and on Isle of Wight ferries, involving ferry travellers and others in creating songs and poems about their lives.

Judge Stephen Boyce, poet and chair of the Winchester Poetry Festival, said: ‘Robyn Bolam is among Hampshire’s most accomplished poets. She is also an admired workshop leader with an infectious enthusiasm for her craft. These are qualities which will serve her extremely well in the role of Hampshire Poet and I’m delighted by her appointment.’

Isabel Rogers, Hampshire Poet 2016 and judge this time round, commented: ‘Robyn Bolam brings her many years of experience as a poet and tutor to the role of Hampshire Poet 2018. I’m especially looking forward to seeing young poets in the county flourish with her guidance.’

Legacy by Robyn Bolam

We don’t know where we’ll go when we set off on the journey;
we leave with the tide, trusting it will bring us home.

Remember that we can’t always see the birds in winter trees
but a trembling twig sometimes sings.

We keep faith that life will sail through death
though we find ourselves in strange waters.

Remember, we are sea and sky, flowers on the water,
and love in your hearts like hidden birds singing.

From Hyem (Bloodaxe Books, 2017)

New Project at Gosport Gallery Aims to Inspire Lifetime Love of Art in Preschool Children

A new project which aims to inspire a lifetime love of art and art galleries in preschool children opens its doors next week.

Gosport Play Gallery, which is part of Gosport Gallery in the town’s Walpole Road, is a new space where preschool children can learn, play and create through hands-on activities. The Play Gallery will give children the chance to explore colour, line, shape and texture, and they will also be able to create their own artworks, including sculpture and paintings. Budding young art lovers will enjoy playing with art by jumping on a gel floor to mix colours and create new shapes, walking on a tactile pathway, weaving on a giant peg loom, featuring in their own portrait selfie and making sculptures from metallic boulders or giant polydron play shapes.

The Play Gallery has been created by Hampshire Cultural Trust as part of a wider, collaborative project with Southampton City Art Gallery and St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington to increase awareness of and access to Southampton’s internationally renowned and outstanding collection of fine art. Its main aim is to encourage more families, in particular those with preschool children, to visit art galleries in Hampshire, and by doing so, to inspire children from a very young age to become gallery visitors.

In addition to the wide range of resources which will help children explore all kinds of different art concepts, the Play Gallery also showcases a selection of artwork from Hampshire’s Contemporary Art Collection, which is cared for by Hampshire Cultural Trust.

The Play Gallery is situated next to the main Gosport Gallery, which is currently showing Southern Shores, an exhibition of marine-themed paintings drawn from the Southampton art collection. Southern Shores explores the region’s long and varied relationship with the sea through a wide selection of paintings, some of which have been conserved especially for the exhibition. Visitors to the Play Gallery will be able to view these works using periscopes, a fun and novel way for them to enjoy art.

The Play Gallery will be officially opened by Kenji Mathews, aged 3, who is regular visitor to Gosport Gallery, and the Mayor of Gosport on Friday 26 January at 11:00am. Children from Alverbridge Preschool will be guests of honour at the opening and will have the privilege of trying out all the activities before the gallery opens to the public on Saturday 27 January. The Play Gallery and Southern Shores are open until Saturday 17 March, entry is free.

Changes at Hampshire Cultural Trust

Below is a statement about  changes at Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT).

Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) was set up as an independent charity in 2014 to promote Hampshire as a great cultural county and to secure the future of museums previously operated by Hampshire County Council and Winchester City Council.

Our key objective is to deliver a great cultural offer for local people that enriches the lives as many people as possible across Hampshire, while delivering good value for public money. In our first three years, we have refurbished two local museums and curated exhibitions that have attracted local, national and international visitors and profile. Our ‘better life chances’ programme has brought arts and culture to those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged. Our commercial activities have strengthened our financial resilience to help build a sustainable future.

When HCT was established, planned reductions in local authority funding were also agreed. Our funding for 2018/19 onwards will reduce by around £450,000. Consequently, we have to make changes in the way we operate to accommodate this, and at the same time continue to deliver the great work we have started and to build upon it.

Our current restructure is all about ensuring our resources are focused on delivering great and engaging cultural experiences for a wide audience, bringing our collections to life and making their stories accessible. This is why we are bringing curatorial and exhibition development responsibilities together and locating these posts within teams that are focused on Winchester, Milestones and Basing House, Community Museums and developing cultural facilities in Basingstoke and Gosport.

It is also about expanding our community links and re-enforcing our roots in local communities, helping to make a difference to people’s lives through inspirational arts and museums experiences. We are increasing the number of posts looking after our community museum venues, and the accompanying ‘better life chances’ programme will support wider social agendas around education, skills development and wellbeing. We will also invest more in supporting local regeneration plans that will re-energise town and city centres.

Our collections will be at the heart of all these developments. The local teams will be supported by a central collections management and care team, which will include a full-time collection manager, a curatorial liaison manager, 3 full-time conservators, an exhibition designer, and technical and assistant support.

Our wonderful team of over 400 volunteers who work across our venues and make things happen, will be supported by a member of staff responsible for their development and support. In addition, all HCT venues will now benefit from greater investment in digital and increased fundraising support.

These changes represent an exciting shift in focus for HCT that places communities, collections and stories at the heart of the experience we create for and with our audiences, leading to rich and engaging experiences for our customers, and a secure future for the management and stewardship of our collections.

Dr Janet Owen
Chief Executive

Drama workshops at women’s centres support rehabilitation

More than 60 service users have taken part in Creating Change - a programme of art-based workshops at six women’s centres.

The centres, which are run by the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (HIOW CRC), hosted the programme, which was devised and delivered by BearFace Theatre and Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Creating Change uses drama to encourage service users to explore relationships, thoughts and feelings. The programme supports desistance theory in multiple ways: by developing strong support bonds and networks; by recognising strengths rather than offences and by building self-esteem and self-confidence.

Activities were designed to be fun, reflective and motivational. Almost 80 per cent of attendees completed the course.

Exercises included ‘bombs and shields’ where participants chose another group member for each role and move to keep their ‘shield’ between them and their ‘bomb’. This leds to reflections on real life triggers such as alcohol and corresponding shields such as family support. The exercise helps with developing spatial awareness, understanding choice, empathy, trust as well as discussion around coping strategies.

Laney Dimmock, a service user at Fareham women’s centre, said: “Of all the groups I go to, these drama sessions were my favourite. We created scenes and explored how people see things differently.

“Team games involved listening, touching and trusting. I learned a lot from the communication without speaking. It’s really helped me to be in a place where no one judges or makes assumptions. Being in a women-only group helps, I see many women speaking up where I think they would stay quiet in a mixed group.”

Julie Eden, HIOW CRC senior case manager and women’s centre facilitator, said: “We work really hard at the women’s centres to create a safe environment for service users. This is important because a high proportion of attendees have experienced trauma.

“We encourage women to develop positive support networks in their community and relationships with each other. Our colleagues from BearFace Theatre and Hampshire Cultural Trust shared these values and I have really enjoyed working with them.”

Creating Change uses Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT) techniques combined with drama and performing arts skills.

Julie added: “Many service users said they developed a better understanding of CBT because of Creating Change. This is fantastic because it means service users are more likely to apply this knowledge and understanding.

“For several women, Creating Change was their first experience at the women’s centre and by the end they said that they had bonded with the other service users. I am delighted because evidence shows positive relationships are a crucial part of helping women to stop re-offending.

Aimee Wynn, an attendee at the Southampton women’s centre, said: “I enjoyed the workshops a lot. My favourite activity was ‘bombs and shields’, learning who to keep away from and who is helpful to me. Taking part has helped me to think more before I act and speak.”

Charlotte Slinger, Hampshire Cultural Trust cultural engagement manager, said: “We have been delighted to develop innovative and responsive arts-led programmes with HIOW CRC, we believe arts and culture can help to develop confidence, opinion, team work and many more life skills. The Creating Change programme is a key part of our Better Life Chances strategy, using culture to change lives in Hampshire.”

This initiative was funded by an £8,000 grant from the Purple Futures Innovation fund.

Competition to find Hampshire Poet 2018 launches on National Poetry Day

A competition to find Hampshire’s next poet laureate launches on National Poetry Day, 28 September 2017.

The search for the Hampshire Poet 2018 is being led by Hampshire Cultural Trust, who are encouraging wordsmiths from all over the county to apply. The competition, which runs every other year, aims to foster local writing talent and continues the successful laureate scheme that first began in 2008.

The winning poet will receive two paid commissions highlighting projects and activities during the year, including poems linked to Hampshire Cultural Trust’s wide and varied programme of exhibitions and events across its 23 venues in the county.

As well as being a talented poet, the winner of the Hampshire Poet 2018 competition will need to be a confident speaker and a strong advocate for the pleasures of reading and writing.

The competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over who lives, works or studies in Hampshire. To apply, entrants need to submit two poems from their portfolio along with a short statement of what they can bring to the role and gain from the experience. The competition will close on Friday 8 December 2017 and the winner will be announced in the New Year. Applications for the competition can be made online at the Hampshire Cultural Trust website, https://www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/hampshire-poet-2018.

2016 winner, Isabel Rogers, pictured, produced a wealth of new verse during her tenure as Hampshire Poet, some published online and some in print on bookmarks. She worked on arts and heritage projects across the county, and held workshops in a variety of venues including schools, libraries and arts centres, encouraging people of all ages to write their own poetry.

Isabel is on the judging panel for this year’s competition. She is joined by poet and chair of the Winchester Poetry Festival, Stephen Boyce, and Angela Hicken, literature officer at Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Janet Owen, chief executive officer at Hampshire Cultural Trust, commented:

‘Hampshire Poet 2018 is a fantastic opportunity for an exceptional talent to be part of the cultural life of Hampshire. We’re looking for a poet who can not only whisk us away with their words, but also someone who can be a champion for poetry and literacy within the community.’


King Charles I Portrait Reveals Centuries Old Mystery

A portrait of King Charles I, normally on display in the Guildhall’s King Charles Hall, has recently been receiving some restoration work as part of a wider art restoration project by Winchester City Council in partnership with Hampshire Cultural Trust.

The portrait was removed and sent to April Johnson at The Brick House for cleaning and restoration and to enable it to be closely inspected in the hope that the artist would be identified.  As it turned out, the inspection would reveal a far bigger secret, hidden for many years.

Portrait artists leave clues to their identity in the form of ‘trade mark’ brush strokes and paint types. These marks are also often used to determine the age of the painting.  Charles’ portrait bore many similarities to the style of famous court painter, Peter Lely and was widely expected to be identified as a Lely piece. During the inspection, it was revealed that the sceptre held in Charles’ right hand was originally painted as a staff and had been overpainted.  It was also noted that Charles’ head was painted by a different hand to the rest of the painting and that the paint around the head was also different. 

Although not unusual for paintings by Lely - he would often paint the face of his subjects then ask one of his students to paint the body and the background from a number of poses - in this case, there was a noticeable difference. The paint used and the quality of the work on the head of this painting was not up to the standard expected of Lely. Did one of his students finish the King’s portrait off?

Further investigation revealed that the ruff round the neck of Charles was thinning and that details of a different ruff were showing through. The real surprise came when the area below the feet was cleaned and the inscription ‘Henry Jermain Earl of St Albans’ was revealed.

Henry Jermain (Jermyn) was a Member of Parliament and staunch Royalist in the English Civil War, Lord Chamberlain and also a knight of the garter.  A portrait of Jermyn in his garter robes is owned by the National Trust and is on display in Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire.  In that portrait, Jermyn is in exactly the same pose as the portrait and his hair conforms to the area of paint around Charles’ head.  Further research will be undertaken to discover who the unsung artist might be.

Ross Turle, Curator of Social and Industrial History for Hampshire Cultural Trust said, “It is not unusual for artists to re-use canvases, the city has another example in Abbey House, but what is enticing in this case is that we know who the former sitter was. We have a starting point for further research and hopefully a bit of dogged detective work will throw some light on the mystery”.

Councillor Rob Humby, Portfolio holder for Economy and Arts said: “The City Council is fortunate to own several unique and much-loved pieces of art and we take our responsibilities to their care very seriously.  The portrait of King Charles has hung proudly in the King Charles Hall for many years and it is fascinating to discover that he has been concealing this secret all this time.  We look forward to learning more about the other pieces in the Guildhall and hope that our visitors enjoy them just as much as we do”.

Creative Practitioner Training: Mental Health and Wellbeing

Creative Practitioner Training: Mental Health and Wellbeing

Hampshire Cultural Trust have received funding from the North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group, through their Innovation Conference Fund, to run a 5 week training and mentoring programme for creative practitioners who want to work with people who are experiencing mental health issues.

The aim of this project is to up-skill creative practitioners so they are able to deliver more programmes taking a preventative approach to mental health and wellbeing, reducing the pressure on local health and support services. 

The programme will involve pairing the practitioners with local organisations in the Rushmoor and Hart area who work directly with these specific service users.  Through this partnership both the practitioner and the organisation will be able to mentor each other through the process, share best practice and develop their own learning of how cultural participation can contribute to mental health and wellbeing.

The organisations involved in the project are:

  • Rushmoor and Hart Mental Health and Substance Misuse Team
  • North East Hampshire and Farnham’s Recovery College
  • Creative Response
  • North Lane Lodge

Alongside these placements, creative practitioners will work alongside an experienced artist facilitators, Little Art Haven, to ensure they are supported throughout the programme.  This will involve facilitator led learning sessions and peer to peer support among the practitioners themselves.  These sessions will take place at the West End Centre in Aldershot.

The training will take place between October and December 2017.

A Creative Day Out

On 18 August the West End Centre hosted A Creative Day Out. This day of arts and crafts saw young people take part in pottery, collage, t-shirt printing and copper ring making classes. The day was a great success with the young people commenting: “The day was great and I am glad I did it. The people are so kind.” and “It was amazing and enjoyable.” This event was funded through the Hampshire Local Cultural Education Partnership, in order to give young people a positive and creative experience but also to ask their opinions about the emerging themes of Hampshire LCEP which are: Health & Wellbeing, Aspiration, Employability.


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