Southampton’s Art World Makes Headlines Twice in One Day

Today has been a big day for art in the city, with two headline stories.

The Banksy piece presented by the artist to Southampton General Hospital last year has sold for a record £14.4 million, raising the funds for NHS charities.

And looking forward to the excellent Southampton City Art Gallery reopening later in spring, the National Gallery has agreed to one of its largest ever loans to a UK gallery, including pieces by Monet and Gainsborough. Apparently the relationship between the galleries stretches back to Southampton City Art Gallery’s foundation in 1939, with the National Gallery’s director acting as an acquisition and collections advisor for the new gallery – I had no idea. The special exhibition will run from 28 May – 2 September.

With free entry and one of the most extensive art collections outside London, Southampton City Art Gallery is an attraction for the city to be proud of, and well worth a visit. When things are more open, I highly recommend an art and coffee crawl around the central art galleries, also featuring John Hansard Gallery, and of course Mettricks.


Bitterne Park Stores Opens for Business

Shop Local Southampton at its heart is about encouraging and supporting our local economy of shops, artists and suppliers, and I’m struggling to think of anywhere that encompasses those values more than Bitterne Park Stores.

Many Southampton residents has come to rely on Bitterne Box Company for its weekly Covid-safe deliveries of fruit, vegetables, bread, food cupboard essentials, and – perhaps most importantly from my point of view – beer. This success has enabled the opening of a new local shop at the heart of Bitterne Park Triangle – Bitterne Park Stores.

From locally produced cheese, coffee, beer and condiments (bread coming soon), to vegan and cleaning products, Bitterne Park Stores stocks everything Bitterne Box Company is famous for – you could do the majority of a weekly shop in here, and pick up some treats at the same time. There’s also a section run by Art’el, offering paintings, figurines, jewellery and fabrics designed by local artists and rotated on a weekly basis.

Bitterne Park Stores has plenty of well regarded neighbours, a non-complete list includes ice cream café The Songbird, Italian cafe Il Picchio, G. Cotton Bakers, rideride Cycle workshop, and Darn it & Stich haberdashery. Bitterne Park Triangle is also home to Southampton’s first micropub The Butcher’s Hook, currently closed due to Covid restrictions. Add Riverside Park to the mix and Bitterne Park Triangle is one of Southampton’s great local shopping destinations. You can find Bitterne Park Stores at 25 Manor Farm Road – it’s also featured on our map of some of our favourite local shops and services in Southampton.


Southampton City Centre set for Big Changes

Southampton City Centre has certainly seen changes over the last decade, not least the transformation of Guildhall Square from a car park to a square full of culture and events.

This is about to be accelerated with plans for improved pedestrian, cycle, public transport, recreational and visitor experiences, whilst simultaneously improving the flow of traffic outside a greener city centre.

The plans will open up a new city park at Albion Place by the historic town and castle walls, create better flow between the Central Parks by reducing motor traffic on cross-park routes, and radically improve the sense of place in front of the Civic Centre. Some of the works are due to begin this year, with the majority completing in 2022.

At the same time plans are being made to erect a new statue of Sikh pilot Hardit Singh Malik, dedicated to memory of members of the city’s ethnic communities who lost their lives in wartime. It is expected that the statue, by West Midlands sculptor Luke Perry, will be erected outside the Sea City Museum in 2023.

For more information on the City Centre Transformation and to provide feedback in the consultation (ends 19 March) please see the Southampton City Council website.