We Shine Portsmouth Hailed A Resounding Success!


We Shine Portsmouth, the first free art and light festival in the city, is being hailed a great success. Over three nights from last Thursday to Saturday, more than 80,000 visits were made to light and art installations around the city.

Social media was awash with photos and positive feedback including comments such as; “My family and I went to the city centre last night and St Mary’s tonight. Beautiful and wonderful fully immersive experiences or art and music. Well done all involved“, “It has been beautiful! Well done to all involved” and “So great to have a free event that was so accessible.

Portsmouth Creates, the volunteer-led, cultural agency who organised the event said:


“We are utterly delighted by the response to the event and the feedback. The people of Portsmouth came out in their thousands to enjoy the incredible art pieces. To see families out together having fun, from every corner of the city, so many of whom wouldn’t normally feel that a culture festival would be for them, was just incredible. They are the reason we have worked so hard and invested so much, to put this event on.


This pilot just proves that great things happen when the city’s artists, communities and organisations collaborate. We hope we can make this a more permanent fixture with even more partners participating and more communities getting involved and working together in the future. We are so grateful to all those who supported us especially Portsmouth City Council and Arts Council England without whom it simply wouldn’t have been possible.”


As part of the event, four key legacy murals were commissioned so that the people of Portsmouth can enjoy them beyond the event. Talented artist Neequaye Dreph Dsane has painted one of the murals depicting Marie Costa – a local woman who has been nurse, teacher, carer, businesswoman, University governor and community volunteer in Portsmouth since the 1960s! She has been described as ‘inspirational’ and ‘a do-er’ and has worked tirelessly for decades to promote intercultural understanding. Now this beautiful mural faces the creative & cultural hub of the University where students & the community can see it and be inspired! While Curtis Hylton’s Pompey Pelican mural on Angmering house is a bright and beautiful homage to our seafront city’s flora and fauna. The striking mural showcases Curtis’ ability to hand render light, shadow, and detail! Zoe Power’s The People’s Park in Victoria Park is a colourful and welcoming mural inspired by the parks rich history and embraces the diversity of Portsmouth residents. Similarly, Dharma 77’s Orchard Park piece Proper Faces depicts characters and archetypes all observed in the city in a vibrant mural.


Two of the murals (People’s Park & Marie Costa) were painted using Airlite, a clever paint that uses 100% natural technology to improve air quality wherever it is applied reducing up to 88.8% of pollutants in the air! A single 1m2 of wall painted with Airlite Purelight will clean the air as effectively as a large mature tree meaning the murals will leave a positive impact on the city in more ways than one!


Councillor Ben Dowling, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development at Portsmouth City Council, said:


“I want to congratulate Portsmouth Creates and all their partners on an amazingly successful We Shine festival. This breakthrough initiative shows what can be created when collaboration, catalysed by passion, energy, and a little bit of funding are brought together by an innovative social enterprise like Portsmouth Creates.  It was wonderful to see so many people from every corner and community of the city enjoying art and culture with no barriers. As a council, we were delighted to have supported the project and we look forward to working with Portsmouth Creates in the future, along with an even wider group of stakeholders and communities, to make such festivals a more regular fixture in the city”


Phil Gibby, Arts Council England, South West, Area Director, said:
“Arts Council is thrilled to have supported We Shine Portsmouth through our National Lottery Project Grants funding programme. The event offered new opportunities for local creatives and brought fantastic cultural experiences to community venues and public spaces across the city.

We have recently announced our strengthened commitment to Portsmouth as a priority place, to help us deliver our strategy Let’s Create, and it’s with thanks to National Lottery players that we were able to invest in Portsmouth Creates to produce this event, which demonstrated the power of culture in bringing people together”.

Looking ahead, We Shine Portsmouth hopes to become an annual event so if you enjoyed it, please complete the survey to help ensure it comes back next year! Please share and tell your friends and family – every response helps! To complete the survey please click here.