Nothing Fantastic is an independent hangout for music and art that has a cool vibe and sits on Highland Road, number 37 to be exact. You might not think music and art would necessarily work together in a space like this, but believe me, it does. Chatting to the owners Alex and Lewis, they said being friends for a long time and both being Dj's meant they appreciated each other's passion for their work and both wanted a permanent space in Southsea, so decided to partner up.
Their vision of the space is that they didn't want the art gallery side to be clinical, cold or fussy like some art galleries can be. They wanted a relaxed atmosphere where people can drop by, listen to some music, flip through the latest dance vinyls and chill while looking at cool art and other pieces on display from local artisans.
Following Alex on his journey with Nothing Ventured Vinyl and having pop-up shops along various spots on Albert Road, it's so nice to see him settled here. I like how the shop tucks neatly between a few indies with Dusty Bird a couple of shops away and Hounds Barbers sitting across the road, which offers a nice walk to go and check them out.
Alex said he had always loved music and when he took redundancy he decided to buy some records. He met a guy at a record sale who told him “Only ever buy records you love!" which stuck with Alex and so he decided to only buy and sell; dance, house, drum and bass, garage, and hip-hop music as that was his love. Fast forward to now and Nothing Ventured Vinyl is the only record shop in Portsmouth selling this kind of music, offering underground releases as well as a huge focus on electronic music.
Joy Fantastic is the art side of the business and Lewis who runs this said he wanted to curate the gallery where he promotes a wide range of artists and artworks. With a motto of “We believe fantastic art brings endless Joy" you can tell the enthusiasm that goes into creating a gallery like this. There are a couple of big sellers in the gallery, one being Margo in Margate who has a wonderfully distinctive style of black and white and a huge colour focus with a very playful edge. Describing her work, Margot McDaid said that her art reflects her love of all things bright and optimistic, as well as her life by the sea which 'makes the colour even more powerful'. She thinks art should bring us daily joy, and the use of simple, graphic paintings are inspired by colour, vintage shirts, illustrations in children’s books, folk art and outsider art.
The other big seller is Charlie Evaristo Boyce who really wows you with typography style prints as well as screen printing pieces. He describes his print-making process as a way to make bright and fun art. When he first started making prints a lot of his inspiration came from images he found but as his work developed, he started to use photography and illustration. Both artists come from Margate but there are lots of other artists that grab your eye in the gallery space like local creative Samo White, John Pedder, who is famous for his woodcut printing, and also designer/illustrators from across the UK. I love that you can buy a piece of art here for £35 or spend up to £500, there is something for everyone. Lewis really does spend time finding artists that will really compliment his style and space.
Having such a cool gallery is bound to bring the desire to hold a show and highlight talented artists, and that’s why Joy Fantastic is holding its first exhibition working with Portsmouth artists. Lewis said “We decided we wanted our first gallery show “Here &There" to have something that links to the city. All the artists have come from Portsmouth but have either moved away or travelled to develop their craft. Between Joseph, Karl, and Joe they have all lived, set up studios or gone on creative missions in places like Paris, Berlin, China, New York, Vietnam, Cuba, so that's how we came up with the concept. We’re really excited to start our first show with such amazing artists that we love!"
Starting on the 27th November at 6.30pm, this first show will exhibit Joseph Loughbrough, Joe Munro and Karl Bailey as well as others. One to mark on your calendar!
With small touches around the place like the Kaws model placed on a shelf, the cool mirror as you walk in, and chairs to sit down, this place offers somewhere to really relax and enjoy some you time. The interior is mixed eclectic with an old sideboard that looks like an old printing storage unit from the mid 60's to the Supersonic sign that hits you as you head towards the records. Yes, I absolutely love this place and can't wait to go back. I can't promise I will be buying the latest electronic vinyl but I will be sat chilling, checking out the art and various pieces for sale.
If you haven't been yet, go and pay this indie a visit and experience the supersonic vibe.