Poetry-inspired street art coming to Portsmouth

A new piece of street art is coming to Portsmouth City Centre this month to mark the start of a new effort to engage residents with poetry.

Portsmouth Poetry and Portsmouth City Council are teaming up on a 15metre piece of art on Marketway, celebrating the work of acclaimed poet John Cooper Clarke.

The piece forms part of Portsmouth Poetry’s new initiative, led by internationally-renowned street artist My Dog Sighs, to produce poetry-based artwork to engage a wider audience.

John Cooper Clarke was chosen as he will be performing at this month’s Portsmouth Festivities. The artwork will feature My Dog Sighs’ signature realistic eye, reflecting an image of the poet and lyrics from his piece I Wanna Be Yours.

Josh Brown, chair of Portsmouth Poetry, sid: “It’s a way of beautifying and cleaning up some dreary parts of the city and engaging people in poetry who wouldn’t normally be exposed to it.

“I’d like to thank the council for arranging this location — it’s fantastic. The main thing was getting a site with good footfall, which this has, and the more people who see it, the more it achieves.”

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My Dog Sighs helped launch a street art festival around the construction of the Somerstown Hub in 2013, and since the community space opened, he has been a regular visitor to the Brook Club at the site, along with other street artists including Fark, Dharma, and Lex, all working with children and young adults on workshops and displays.

One of the most recognisable sights in the Somerstown Hub is a 38ft-high mural depicting another of My Dog Sighs’ trademark pieces — his Lost and Found stickman (pictured left).

Councillor Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “I’m delighted we have been able to support this project. Portsmouth has some fantastically talented artists and we are very keen to work with them by providing an outlet for their talents and supporting artwork in key locations.

“Street art is a growing industry in the city and can attract visitors. Properly done it helps create a vibrant atmosphere for an area and is something we want to encourage. I have been in contact with My Dog Sighs and we are going to meet to discuss other projects and opportunities in the city and across the UK.”