Matt Westbrook & The Futurators celebrate Portsmouth's heraldic identity

The following information has been provided by artist Matt Westbrook. For more information click here.  

  • Artist leads project that will culminate in a flag adorned archway entrance to the ‘World Music Village’ at this year’s Victorious festival.
  • Fire breathing Dragon to spearhead a parade through the site that celebrates sea faring island’s relationship with mythical creatures.
  • Flag making workshops and temporary tattoo designs will be available for families during the festival.

Have you ever noticed that Portsmouth’s official coat of arms have a ‘Sea’ lion and Unicorn on it? These mermaid tailed figures ­were added to the city crest in 1970 and are a maritime version of the Royal coat of arms, highlighting the city’s long association with the crown. Many from outside of the city will be familiar with the city’s star and crescent motif, but perhaps these heraldic, mythical figures will have been overlooked.

Not anymore. Birmingham based, but Portsmouth born, artist Matt Westbrook will work with young people, community groups and the general public to design flags that will celebrate our connection with weird and fantastical creatures, such as the creatures that used to adorn maps in medieval times. (See Quote *1 Editor Notes*)

Westbrook will design and make a set of flags featuring mythical creatures to create a dramatic archway entrance to this year’s Victorious Festival’s inaugural ‘World Music Village’ after leading a series of workshops with ‘The Futurators’, Aspex Gallery’s young curators group, and local families. Temporary tattoos of these designs will be distributed throughout the village during the festival.

‘Westbrook was invited by BIG Adventures, the company headed by John Sackett (co curator with ‘Arms around the Child’ director Ellie Milner of the World Music Village), to design the entrance archway to the site and create on site workshops.  John will be using his creative producer skills to work with Matt, experienced festival company Dragon Heart Beats and theatre director Nick Downes to create a daily parade that will weave around the World Music village.

The World Music Village will run throughout the Victorious Festival weekend this August 27th and August 28th.Dragon Heart Beats will only be present on the Saturday (even mythical creatures have homes to go to) be sure not to miss it! During the festival a specialist flag maker will be present and running workshops from a marquee, inviting families to make their own sea creature based flags and join in with the parade. 

The project has been funded by a ‘Grants for the Arts’ funding application by Westbrook from Arts Council England, with generous support also being provided from Aspex Gallery, Arms Around The Child, BIG Adventures and Victorious Festival. Any proceeds made from the project will support ‘Arms around the Child

"Having such an artist led initiative will we hope create a depth of community understanding for Portsmouth’s connections with the world and is therefore a powerful way of linking with the World Music Village content. The content in our World Music Village and The People’s Lounge will explore through music, talks, poetry and world music an awareness of world culture and issues"

- ArmsAround The Child’ Global Director, Ellie Milner