Space to sit and think

Making art accessible in everyday life is close to our hearts and that’s why we love the BENCH project delivered by GO! Southampton that launched in early December.


Sixteen benches in Southampton city centre have been transformed into works of art. Installed along Above Bar Street, the benches were revitalised by local artists who painted them as part of an initiative to re-think how people can access public art.


The project is a partnership between the city’s Business Improvement District (BID), GO! Southampton, and Solent University’s Showcase Gallery. The project is supported by Southampton City Council, Balfour Beatty and Solent University’s COVID-19 Response Fund.


One of the benches was created by Don John, a film maker, music producer and broadcaster, in collaboration with Professor Peter Lloyd ARE, Dean of the Faculty of Creative Industries, Architecture and Engineering at Solent University. The bench I Am Somebody is a tribute to the late civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson.


I am Somebody features a number of faces to reflect each individual’s presence within society and the power of those individuals when they come together. The artwork includes a nod to Southampton’s UK City of Culture 2025 bid, with some of the individuals featured in the bid’s launch film depicted on the bench. The connection between I Am Somebody and the Southampton 2025 film is extremely apt, with the film having been commissioned and produced by Solent University through the eyes of local artist; Asten Holmes-Elliott.


It’s great to see the city working together, not just to support our bid to become UK City of Culture but also to make art accessible and encourage people to reflect in these difficult times.


Picture credit ‘Katie Hatch of KLC Studios’.