Whenever I tell people that I live in Boscombe I tend to get the same reaction. People seem to have a preexisting idea of the type of people who live here, whether it be criminals, drug addicts, alcoholics or any number of unappealing demographics.
I know that Boscombe is not without it’s problems, but what seems to be overlooked is the fact that it is generally full of amazing, diverse, creative and hardworking people. I have decided to take on a personal project I’m calling “A Portrait of Boscombe“. By simply taking pictures and telling stories of the people who visit, live or work in Boscombe I want to shed the light on the true Boscombe and dispel the stereotype.
A great piece covering the launch event of A Portrait of Boscombe by Buzz Media from Bournemouth University
Nadia – Photographer, film maker, digital marketing consultant, happily living and working in Boscombe since 2009
I started this project with a single mission of showing the positive side of Boscombe. I had no idea just how many astonishingly amazing things I would discover about the place in which I live.
The people I’ve met have been welcoming, supportive and full of positivity for Boscombe. There are so many hidden gems, whether it be the Crusty Bread or Studio 2 on Roumeila Lane, the Boscombe Life Drawing Group on Haviland Road, the Shelley Theatre, or the fabulous volunteers of the BH1 Project and Vita Nova.
The people I’ve met have taught me some extraordinary things including the ins and outs of pier fishing, the correct way to bake bread, and all about the history of Boscombe.
I had no idea how well received the project was going to be. In just over a month the project has received more than 4,000 hits and feedback like “This makes me want to move to Boscombe.”
Although this is going to be the final blog post for now, it looks “A Portrait of Boscombe” is going to be turned into an exhibition. I will be interviewing a small number of inspiring people as part of this, so if there are any people out there who you think help make Boscombe a better place please let me know.
I do not deny that Boscombe has it’s issues, with social depravation and substance abuse, but this seemed to be all that people were seeing. What this project has reinforced to me is that Boscombe is full of creative people who are trying to make it a better place. People like Harry Seccombe and David Mullins are actively trying to add positive things to the area, and facilities like BH1 Project and Vita Nova are there to help people who want to turn their lives around.
Although other people may judge me when I say I live and work in Boscombe I urge them to look closer. I am a photographer who has been published by Italian Vogue, had national campaigns in The Independent and The I, worked on documentaries where I was able to film with James Lovell the captain of Apollo 13 and Peter Lord the head of Aardman Animation, and worked on film and photography campaigns with artist Stuart Semple that were displayed on the big screens at Fed Square in Melbourne. I am proud to have done all of this work from right here in Boscombe.
If you visit Boscombe, just take a moment to stop and look around. You will see breath-taking architecture and a welcoming community full to the brim of creativity, colour and diversity.
So the next time someone mentions Boscombe, please try not to jump to conclusions, roll your eyes or dismiss it as an area that is full of bad people, stop and think.
David Mullins (aka Mr Boscombe) – Owner and operator of The Factory Studios
“My father was a keen photographer, and my grandfather turned the outbuildings of this place into a dark room for my father to work from.
When the factory came to me it was originally rented out to one company but I have gradually turned it into a set of creative studio style units. These include a dance studio, print room, pop up gallery and creative co-working areas. We’re almost there, it’s still a work in progress but we’re getting there.
The whole idea of the factory is that it’s for the community. It’s open to people from all walks of life, at all stages of their career. We have students here where we have made affordable spaces for them to rent, all the way through to more established businesses. Whether they are well known people in their industry or just ordinary folk they all seem to love it here and it’s bringing people together and that means so much to me. We are all learning and growing together. It works well in Boscombe because there is that bohemian style. Although we have a remit nothing here is set in stone and we are adapting to meet the needs of the various creatives in Boscombe.
There’s a vibe that’s going on in Boscombe and the history and the heritage is what this town is about. Rather than knocking things down for the sake of it there’s no need to when you’ve got something that is already here you can just make it work.
One key place that I recall from my teenage years and love to this day is the building that is now the O2 Academy. It was known as Tiffany’s and it was a nightclub and the atmosphere there was just buzzing, and I’ve even appeared in a catwalk show there.
I’ve got a photo at home with my mother, grandfather and the Queen’s Mother sitting in the same area of the theatre and that reminds me of how it used to be in its heyday.
They had circus acts performing, and used to have tunnels that went from King’s Park all the way to the stage at the O2, so tigers and lions could appear on stage.
If there’s one building that has it all in Boscombe it’s that and it represents a lot of what is in Boscombe. It has that richness, and you just need to scratch the surface you’ll find there are so many hidden gems and amazing things just around the corner. There are people here from all walks of life and it still surprises me.
Bournemouth football team was actually formed in Boscombe, outside The Factory under a lamppost on Haviland Road. It was originally called Boscombe F.C and although its name has change, to this day they are still based here in Boscombe.”
David has a true historic connection with the area of Boscombe, and The Factory Studios have belonged to his family since 1910. His family have had roots in Boscombe for 5 generations, and he is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the history of this great town.
With The Factory he is trying to give the creative folk of Boscombe an affordable place to work, share ideas, network and enjoy what they do. Coming from a creative background in set design, he has a true passion for everything artistic and creative and genuinely wants to help people succeed.
I’ve had a space in The Factory studios since last summer and I have to say that it is my favourite place in the whole of Boscombe. It is a microcosm for everything that is good about the place. There is a sense of community overflowing with creativity, and that landlord isn’t a bad guy either!
In other areas this building may have been demolished but David has saved it to keep part of Boscombe’s history alive and kicking. Places like this allow the creative community to thrive – hats off to Mr Mullins, a true Boscombe legend.
Mark Lloyd – Boscombe resident and artist
“Boscombe is full of surprises, it’s an incredible place. It reminds me of other places I’ve been to like Brixton. These areas are now successful and affluent, but they used to be a little bit run down like Boscombe is today, and you can’t avoid that.
When an area becomes run down the artists, musicians, poets and creative people move into that area because of lower rent, and that starts to create this vibe and energy. And you end up with a place that has social depravation but at the same time it has this creative hub of energy and that energy is why I’ve stayed in Boscombe.
The thing I love most is the contradiction of Boscombe. I can go to an opening of an exhibition and have a wonderful conversation with people of high standing about the Northern Renaissance, and then 20 minutes later I can be chatting to a homeless guy about the moon and it was equally valid and an incredible conversation and I love that contradiction.
Boscombe doesn’t inspire specific content of my work but it inspires me with the energy to make work and the drive and ambition to keep going.
We’ve got this amazing really broad wide range of different people. They are from different places across the country, and from all over the world. There’s a strong Eastern European cultural element in Boscombe and a broad range of ethnic groups, social diversity, class and race.
I need to go shopping later and I’m going to go into Boscombe. I don’t know what or who I’m going to bump into. I’m only going out to get a pint of milk but I know it’s going to be an adventure!
There’s a lot of places in Boscombe that I’m drawn to. One place that is particularly important to me is the Sakprasert Gym. It’s an important and inspiring place for many people of Boscombe. It’s been a place where people have found purpose, found focus and learned new things and let stuff out. We haven’t got the best equipment, it can be a bit damp and cold in the winter but it has the biggest heart. I love the fact that the location in Boscombe is very close to the beach and the sea, that for me is very important and that’s something really special.
The strange thing is about Boscombe is it’s not about the physical things, the buildings and things, it’s about the people. If I could take all of these people and move them somewhere else it would make that place rich and full and interesting and would give it the adventure. I know it’s a beautiful place and I’m not trying to take away from that, but what I am trying to emphasise is that it’s the people that make it so special.”
I have found this one of the most challenging interviews to summarise as I struggled to cut out any of my conversation with Mark. Everything that he said was equally inspiring and showed an incredible understanding of the spirit and community of Boscombe.
Mark has lived in Boscombe for 8 years, and I believe he has a true understanding and connection with the area. Again not denying that Boscombe has its problems, Mark has had some profoundly positive experiences whilst living here.
I my opinion his artwork is amazingly captivating as well as thought provoking. His work has been exhibited all across the UK in places like the Saatchi Gallery, Camden Image Gallery and Marburae Art Gallery, and in recent years he has started to exhibit locally in spaces such as Ward 9.
Mark has been awarded a number of accolades during his career so far including 2012 New Sensations at Saatchi Gallery, being nominated for Griffin Art Prize, and winning 2008 European Adult Learner of the Year Award.
In addition to this, Mark is a community mentor and also works with both Bournemouth University and Bournemouth & Poole College as a lecturer.
This was one of the most amazing conversations I’ve had the privilege of experiencing, and it is not one that I will soon forget. It is people like Mark that remind me why I love the place that I live so much, and I only hope that more people begin to understand this side of Boscombe.
Sarah and Linda – Boscombe Life Drawing Group
Sarah – “It’s really good for networking, you have people who are just starting out, students and professional artists. I really like the mixture of people that come here. We encourage people to just have a go and see if they like it! We all get on really well, and there is a great atmosphere here and it’s really relaxed. There is so much culture and diverse people in Boscombe and it’s totally exploded in the past year or so. We’ve now got places like The Factory, SIX, Ninety Degrees, The Great Exhibition of Boscombe and its fantastic. It could almost be like Bristol or Brighton with this great cultural vibe and it’s really attracting a lot of younger people into the area. If the council could give a bit more encouragement here and there the whole thing could just blossom into a fantastic place! But I think the groundswell is strong enough to start the change.”
Linda – “Boscombe life drawing group gives you time to work on your own ideas and develop your own style. Sarah is very good at getting things started with the model but we are all allowed to give our own suggestions if there’s something we want to do. It’s so relaxed here, and we have artists at all levels. There are some completely new people, people who are established artists and it’s really interesting seeing their style. I think it’s perfect that this group is based in Boscombe, there’s a lot of exciting things going on and this fits with a lot of other things that are happening in the area. It’s just ideal. There’s a lot of energy, ideas and creativity in Boscombe. There are a few problems but people here are not complaisant, they’re striving to make things better and it’s starting to create positive results. Artistically there are an increasing number of things to get involved with and lots of enthusiasm.”
Sarah started the Boscombe Life Drawing group to give people a place to practice their art. It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner, or a professional artist you are welcome to take part. It has become extremely popular over the past few years, and as well as a number of Boscombe based artists it attracts people from as far as Verwood. They have given artists of all levels the opportunity to explore and improve their skills, and have even been able to take part in exhibitions such as The Great Exhibition of Boscombe. Again it is people like Sarah who are making an effort to add to their local community, and the Boscombe Life Drawing group really is an amazing place for artists to explore their work. Linda is an amazingly talented artist and has been practicing her whole life. She can see that there are good things starting to happen in Boscombe. It really is becoming a creative hub with some amazing facilities for artists of all types.
Christel – Artist and Boscombe resident
“When I first moved here I still had a lot of attachment to the University and Bournemouth town centre, and I didn’t really go out into Boscombe. I started getting involved with local community events through a friend and started meeting all of the fantastic people of Boscombe, and now I thoroughly love it! Through meeting people in the community I started to notice that Boscombe is overflowing with creative people, and it’s really exciting. I love the diversity of characters; you get so many interesting people here with some fascinating stories to tell. Everybody is so vibrant and welcoming which is quite contrary to the views of the wider public. There is such a great creative vibe here and it reminds me of Brighton with its own unique twist.”
Christel is an amazingly talented artist who has lived in Boscombe for around 6 years. Working out of Ninety Degrees studio on Roumelia Lane, she find that the community of Boscombe inspire her work. She is currently building up a portfolio of portraits focusing on the people of Boscombe, showing the diversity and character of the community. Passionate about working with the local community, Christel often volunteers with local organisations and events.
The people and the spirit of Boscombe continue to surprise Christel, and she believes that it is far from the negative assumptions that people make of the area .
Harry Seccombe– Owner of Chaplin’s and Vice Chairman of the Boscombe Forum
“Cellar Bar was already here when I bought the place. It was a bar built by local people with reclaimed materials, and I really didn’t want to see that ruined. Everything in Chaplin’s is built with reclaimed materials, and the murals are done by a Boscombe based artist Vivien Hoffman, you’ll never find another place like it. I like Boscombe, but it does have its problems. By setting up the Boscombe Forum I am trying to get the council to engage with the local community and other bodies. This gives the community a chance to speak about the community’s issues. There’s a very big creative community in Boscombe. People can be drawn here by the cheaper rents and business rates, but are kept here by the energy and community feel that other places just don’t have, it has a much more Bohemian feel. Here you get the best of everything, you have the coast, you’re close to the countryside, and we’re working on the culture side with the Boscombe Arts Collective! It’s a diverse community here, there’s professionals, there’s artists, students etc. you get a real cross section of society.”
A pillar of the Boscombe community, Harry is dedicated to the continual improvement of Boscombe. As well as helping to set up the Boscombe Forum, he is also in the process of starting the Boscombe Arts Collective which is a charity that will represent all of the creatives in the area. This will give people an opportunity to meet, raise funds and make sustainable arts resources in Boscombe.
Harry is also the owner of the multi award winning Chaplin’s and Cellar Bar. Almost all of its interior and gardens are made from reclaimed materials, giving it a unique look as well as being environmentally friendly by reusing and recycling. Chaplin’s is the place to go for live music 7 days a week, and has contributes £50,000 a year to the local music community. They are also going to be expanding their programming to include theatre, poetry and comedy.
Rather than taking a back seat and complaining about Boscombe’s issues, Harry has taken action to change his community for the better. People like Harry are actively making Boscombe a better place, and we are already starting to see that things are getting better!
Neil – Boscombe resident and former doorman/security worker
“Any place is what you make of it, and it depends on the people you decide to mix with. There’s still work to be done but Boscombe is slowly but surely getting better. It’s a lot more popular than it used to be and there’s a great diversity of people. It’s become a lot more cosmopolitan in the last 10 years. If you walk past one of the cafes you’ll see people from every walk of life. Boscombe has everything you need, there’s the beach, shops, cafes, restaurants, and a cracking wine bar with live music every night.”
Neil has lived and worked in Boscombe for a number of years. He has noticed the positive changes over the past few years, and can see that things are getting better. Although the area isn’t without its problems, people seem to be clinging to the opinion of Boscombe from many years ago. If people just stop and look around at the positive rather than actively searching for the negatives they will see what a lovely place it truly is.
Beki Blade – Tattoo Artist and Boscombe resident
“I love Boscombe. I moved here 5 years ago and it’s my favourite place now. It’s really quirky. Because I’m alternative I’ve been a bit of an outsider in other areas, but in Boscombe I’ve been totally accepted! It’s full of proper characters and real people. I love working here at Family Ink too. It’s a bit like a family, a dysfunctional family, but I love it!”
Beki moved to Boscombe 5 years ago from Aldershot and has felt totally accepted by the welcoming community here. Coming from a graphic design background she is now an awesomely talented tattoo artist with an infectiously bubbly personality. I wholeheartedly agree with Beki that Boscombe is one of the most accepting and welcome places. Always feeling like an outsider and misfit myself I think that is one of the many reasons I love Boscombe. It’s ok to be different!
Zack – Tattoo artist and owner of Family Ink Tattoo Studio Boscombe
“Boscombe is great – it’s my Boscombe! I moved here when I was younger, my dad owned a hotel on Sea Road and I’ve been here since. I like the local pubs, and that all the staff know my usual before I even have to order. The people of Boscombe are my home and my community. There’s always something to see, but this place wouldn’t be the same without me!”
Zack is a total Boscombe legend. Living here since he was a lad, he opened Family Ink tattoo studio in 2010. An amazingly talented tattoo artist and colourful character in the Boscombe community he is passionate about the place he calls home. He cares about his customers, and finds the most rewarding part of his job the look on people’s faces when they see their finished tattoo. People like Zack make Boscombe the amazingly colourful place that it is, and I agree that it wouldn’t be the same without him!
Nigel Martin – Boscombe Resident and Community Worker
“My favourite thing about Boscombe is its culture and diversity; you haven’t got to go far for anything. There are great cafes, restaurants and even music venues. The people here are so creative, with so many local artists, musicians, photographers and anyone you can imagine. I love Boscombe’s beach. I don’t feel the day is complete until I’ve seen the sea.”
Nigel has lived in the area for 25 years, and loves the Boscombe community. Originally coming from a banking background, Nigel’s passion for helping others has led him into a career in community support. He is now a community support worker, and loving it! Nigel set up the organisations Aspirations to support the various community projects taking place in the Boscombe area, offering them help with networking and media. A keen photographer and musician, he is also part of Boscombe’s ever growing community of creatives.
May Sumbwanyambe – Writer in Residence at Vita Nova Boscombe
“I really enjoy visiting Boscombe. I’ve met some fascinating people and amazing characters. Boscombe has a character of its own. There’s so much creativity in Boscombe, and I really enjoy working with the raw talent in my writing classes. There’s so much potential for great things to happen down here, and that’s what we’re trying to do here at Vita Nova.”
May is an amazingly talented writer, resident playwright for Papatango and Fellow at the BBC. Living in London, he travels to Boscombe twice a week to teach writing workshops at Vita Nova. May recognises the amazing potential of the area, and believes that with extra funding and collaboration between arts provisions Boscombe could achieve great things. He has a true passion for helping people and nurturing the creativity in others. To find out more about the fantastic work of Vita Nova please visit their website.
Gemma – Artistic Coordinator at Vita Nova, Boscombe
“I like Boscombe because it’s got character, there’s lots of interesting architecture and people. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as bad as people say. Boscombe is its own best kept secret. It has its problems but there is a lot of good feeling and lots of different people rather than everyone looking the same. Being an artist, that inspires me.”
Gemma moved to Boscombe from York and has fallen in love with the area. Coming from a theatre background, Gemma is the artistic coordinator for Vita Nova and in charge of shows, performances and workshop programming. Although it can be extremely busy at times, she finds working with the people of Boscombe to be extremely rewarding. She has found the unique community of Boscombe to be inspiring, and far from the stereotypical opinion that people may hold of the area.
Libby – Volunteer at Vita Nova, Boscombe
“I like Boscombe. It’s like everywhere else, it has its good parts and bad parts. I love the diversity of Boscombe. You’ll come across people from every walk of life, and so many nationalities. You can dine out on cuisines from a different country every night if you like. There can be higher concentrations of people in recovery, but that recovery based community are so supportive and so caring that they all look out for each other. Here in Boscombe we all support one another, we all help one another and it’s very special.”
Libby is a volunteer and associate artist at Vita Nova, a charity that aims to provide access to the arts for everyone, with an initial focus on those in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Libby runs writers groups which allow people to explore their creative writing skills. It is a great facility for those in the community who need some extra support, and I am a firm believer that creative output can really help people work through challenges in their life. Libby is passionate about her art as well as giving back to her community. Its charities like Vita Nova that make Boscombe such a special area, and a hub for amazing creativity.
Zara – Long-term resident of Southbourne and new business owner in Boscombe’s Royal Arcade
“I love the Royal Arcade. My father used to be the manager of A Jones & Sons shoe shop in the 1960’s, which is now Café Nero. I remember it used to be busy and full of life! I always remember it being a very grand, happy and welcoming place. We are trying to recapture that now and I really hope it works. I back the regeneration programmes in Boscombe as much as I can. I still love the Royal Arcade, and I really do like Boscombe. It has beautiful architecture and craftsmanship and I find it fascinating.”
Starting her new textiles business in the Royal Arcade 2 weeks ago Zara has fond memories Boscombe from her childhood. She loves Boscombe’s architecture and history, and can see the potential in the current regeneration projects. Zara is passionate about giving back to the community. As well as running her own business, Zara wants to offer workshops and events that reach out to various areas of the Boscombe community; from children to the elderly she aims to offer an opportunity for people to socialise and learn new skills. Its people like Zara that make the community in Boscombe so special and help to get better every day!
Jonathan Rogers – Volunteer Operations Manager at the Shelley Theatre
“We are here to support the performance arts with the involvement of the local community. We want the Shelley Theatre to be a resource for the talented and creative community of Boscombe and the surrounding areas. So far we have worked alongside the Boscombe CIC, Vita Nova, Creative Kids and many more. The theatre aims to give local artists and students a chance to take their first steps in showcasing their work, and it’s all here in Boscombe!”
Jonathan is the volunteer operations manager of the amazing Shelley Theatre in Boscombe. Formerly home to Percy and Mary Shelley, it is now a theatre with breath taking original features. Currently heading towards charity status the Shelley Theatre aims to be a facility for the whole community to enjoy. Hosting a wide range of workshops, classes and productions, there is something here for everyone! Jonathan is a dedicated individual who has a clear passion for supporting creative talents. Working with the owners of the theatre, Jonathan and a dedicated team of volunteers have developed the Pavilion performance space which aims to provide amateur performance artists somewhere to show their work. It is such a privilege that this amazing combination of history and creativity exists right in the heart of Boscombe! If you are interested in joining the team of volunteers that currently run the Shelley Theatre you can find more information on their website.
Marcel – Owner of The Crusty Bread Roumelia Lane
“Roumelia Lane used to be a bad street with a bad reputation but now it it’s somehow changing. I decided to start my business here because the landlord of this unit is very supportive of small business. Boscombe is very multicultural and is the best place for this kind of business. We have regular customers from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Poland and many other places. We use traditional ways of baking bread, and it’s nostalgic for a lot of our customers because it is the kind of bread they can get at home.”
Marcel opened his bakery on Roumelia Lane 5 months ago, and his business has gone from strength to strength. He offers customers a variety of traditionally baked breads without all the added yeast and sugars. He has a clear passion for what he does; he believes that Boscombe is the best place to help his business grow. Moving to Boscombe from Czech Republic, Marcel loves Boscombe and its multicultural community.
Rosie – Cook and owner of Rosie’s Roumelia Lane
“I grew up in a town by the seaside just outside of Rome called Focene. It was always my dream to move to England, and when I asked around I heard that Boscombe was a lovely seaside town. It was important to me to live by the sea, walking on the sand gives you a release and it reminds you that everything is connected. Boscombe is a vibrant place, and it’s a place where people are reborn. It has a lot of history with the Mary Shelley, the Gargoyle on the high street and all of the beautiful houses. Everyone seems to focus too much on Boscombe’s problems. It’s lovely in Boscombe and the people here have a soul.”
Open since 2005 Rosie’s Cafe has become famous amongst the residents of Boscombe. Full of regular customers, people go to Rosie’s not just for the fabulous food but for the amazingly warm and friendly owner herself. People of all ages, background and cultures come to visit her café and sample her mixture of Mediterranean and English cuisine. If you ever want a great coffee and a warm welcome this is definitely the place to be!
Lewis – Volunteer at the BH1 Project, and resident of Boscombe
“I am Boscombe born and bred. This place is a blessing, and it’s the friendliest place you’ll ever see. It’s got everything you need really. Great shops and cafes, and there’s an award winning beach just down the road. At the BH1 Project we try and help vulnerable people within the community, and we do a lot of work with homeless and vulnerably housed populations. We’re open for anybody, and we never turn anyone away. Having been homeless, and through recovery for drugs and alcohol myself I wanted to give back to the community, and I do that by volunteering with a number of local community charities.”
Lewis is one of the most amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet throughout my project so far. He has worked hard to turn his life around, and is doing his best to try and help others do the same. Lewis volunteers not only for the BH1 project – part of Boscombe’s Salvation Army, but also for Friday Outreach to Homelessness offering food, help and prayer to those in need. The number of vulnerable people this man has had a positive influence on is countless, and he has even helped in the process of finding a homeless gentlemen and permanent home. Although I don’t consider myself to be a very religious person, the passion of his faith and his genuine strive to help people is inspiring. I met Lewis whilst helping the lovely ladies of The Picture Club host a free event at the BH1 Project – offering hot food and a night of entertainment to those who wouldn’t usually have access to either. Although it is only run by a small group of volunteers, it is amazing what these people are trying to do. They offer a place for people in the community to get advice, relax, socialise, take a shower, clean their clothes or even just stop in for a cup of tea. I would urge anyone out there to support them – please visit their website for more information.
Claire Prosser – Artist
“During my time at uni I’d only come to Boscombe once. Once I’d found out that I was to be the lead artist of an exhibition based solely in Boscombe I decided to find out – What is Boscombe, what is Boscombe for me? I’d heard so many assumptions and opinions of it, but I wanted to form my own opinion of Boscombe. I love it, I really do! I might feel slight unease at some times but that’s noting I wouldn’t find in other places. The people I’ve met here are so friendly, and all really want what’s best for the area. No one I’ve spoken to here has anything bad to say, so I don’t know where this overall negative feeling about the area has come from. I’ve learnt that Boscombe is not just a high street, it’s full of community support and social groups and there is much more art here than there is in Bournemouth. Some of the best things seem to be a bit more hidden, which I like, but I just want to tell people that they’re here!”
A recent graduate for AUB’s Fine Art, Claire is a brilliant artist whose work includes a unique blend of performance and interactivity. She is the lead artist in an exhibition being curated by the Arts University Bournemouth called Re-Lease AUB. This exhibition will be held in and inspired by Boscombe, and will be opening on April 25th. A piece of work she is currently undertaking for this exhibition is entitled “Relevant Information”. This has seen Claire working with people who live, work and travel through Boscombe, collecting their stories and experiences about what is relevant to them. It is an extremely creative piece that will feature as part of her upcoming exhibition. This shows that not only does Boscombe play host to a wide variety of artists, it also inspires the art itself! For more information about the Re-Lease exhibition please visit Facebook or Twitter
Adam Purnell – Production Designer
“I was actually born in Boscombe, but moved back to the area from London 4 months ago. Boscombe has its problems but it is nice. It has an eclectic mix of people, it’s always busy and there’s always something going on. It is a great place but I still think it has a lot of potential that no one has made the most of yet. I really like Chaplin’s, they do great cocktails and the staff are really friendly!”
Adam is a talented production designer who was born right here in Boscombe! After living in London he decided to move back to the area and make The Factory Studios his work hub. His amazing work in both film and theatre has allowed him to travel around the world to place including France, Norway and Russia, but he still loves coming home to Boscombe. There is still so much more potential for Boscombe to become even better, people just need to look past the bad to see all of the good things that are starting to happen.
Mark Cummins – Sculptor and Artsit
“I’ve lived in Boscombe for 8 years and I love it. It has its problems, but if you scratch the surface and look beyond – it’s magic! My favourite thing about Boscombe is that it has a bohemian and creative underbelly that isn’t always obvious but it is there. I originally moved here from quite a small village to get a fresh start, and for a person like me the creative culture of Boscombe was such a relief. There’s too much of a magnifying lens on the troubles here that people forget about the good.”
Mark is an incredibly talented and self-taught sculptor. Describing his style as “intuitive outsider”, his work is captivating and almost seems to make the wood or stone come to life. Mark sees that the community in Boscombe breeds and attracts creativity. Supporting and nurturing local artists like myself, Boscombe is the place to be for anyone who has a flare for the more creative things in life!
Paul Hawkins – Local Poet and musician, and founder of Untold Stories of Boscombe
“I think Boscombe is a fascinating place, it’s alive and has all sorts of energies. It’s like an iceberg, people only really see a fraction of what is going on. There is so much to see if people take the time to just stop and look around them. Boscombe has an eclectic bunch of people that live and visit here, and it’s definitely an outsider population in a positive way. People move here from many different backgrounds and for many different reasons, and that makes for an extremely vibrant area. I think that some of the media reports about Boscombe are misplaced and misguided. I would definitely challenge the quote that the BBC gave that there are 60 rehabs in the area!”
Paul is an active member of Boscombe’s artistic community and is a talented poet and musician. He founded Untold Stories of Boscombe to give people an outlet to share their stories, art, poetry and images of the community in which they live. Paul moved to the area 3 ½ years ago to undergo rehabilitation for alcohol and drug addiction. Moving to Boscombe helped him turn his life around, and become a productive member of society, and a great addition to the community of Boscombe. People I speak to continually refer to Boscombe Rehabilitation Centres as a negative, however for those people who really want to make a change I think it is a great opportunity for them to get the help they need. I’m proud to come from a community where people try to help those who can’t always help themselves, and Paul is an amazing example of someone who has overcome his issues to make a better life for himself. For those interested in sharing their stories and experiences of the area, please check out Untold Stories of Boscombe.
Cary Lightfoot – Creative Kids
“There’s a tremendous sense of community here, and I think that local people get upset when the media is so negative about Boscombe. People who live here are proud to be from Boscombe! I’ve always loved Boscombe, I know it has its dark sides but it’s so colourful and has such a vaudeville creative feeling about it. You get such an eclectic bunch of people living here, and people from all walks of life. It reminds me of Brighton, there’s a big focus on independent business and there is such a creative vibe. It’s through creativity that people can really show who they are.”
Cary founded Creative Kids in 2008. She combined her love of working with kids, her creativity and her experience in the world of Events Management to create a charity that gives local and underprivileged children a chance to explore their creativity and get involved with something fun! Cary is a true philanthropist, and through creative kids she aims to provide disadvantaged children with great experiences. Cary believes that the positive change has been coming from the grass roots initiatives and organisations, and is only getting better. Creative Kids currently hold 4 big events per year the next of which is Boscombe Easter Adventure. With people like Cary and charities like Creative Kids, the brilliant Boscombe can only get better!
Clare Belmont – The Great Exhibition of Boscombe
“I think Boscombe is an easy target for those who have negative things to say, but really it’s a lovely seaside market town with so much potential. There’s so much creativity here! There are a number of projects and initiatives that provide colourful, creative and unique experiences and we want that to happen even more! The Great Exhibition of Boscombe itself was born out of the fact that there are so many fantastic artists in the area.”
As well as being an active member of the Boscombe community, a volunteer for a number of local creative initiatives, and a mentor to talented young artists, Clare created The Great Exhibition of Boscombe last year. It ran as a fringe event to the 2013 Bournemouth Arts by the Sea festival, which brings some amazingly inspirational and talented artists to Bournemouth from around the world. The Great Exhibition was designed specifically to show of the tremendous amount of creative talent that is right here in our back yard, giving local artists an amazing opportunity to showcase their work. Clare is working tirelessly to make sure that the community of Boscombe is full of creativity and opportunity.
Emilie and Victoria – Residents in the Crescent area of Boscombe
“It has a much more laid back village type feel in Boscombe. You do get some colourful people, but you get that anywhere! We both feel safer walking through Boscombe town centre in the evenings than in Bournemouth. We’re tired of the bad reputation, it’s definitely not deserved. There are so many hardworking and lovely people here who really try and get involved in the local community, and it’s only getting better. It’s brilliant value in Boscombe, we love the shops, bars, cafes and the beach. Boscombe beach over Bournemouth beach any day. Boscombe forever!”
Emilie moved to Bournemouth from the South of France 11 years ago, and has loved Boscombe ever since. Living in the Boscombe’s Crescent area for 6 months her love for the area has only grown. Emilie and her flatmate Victoria have made a beautiful, unique, warm and friendly home which couldn’t be further from the stereotypical opinions of Boscombe Crescent that I have encountered. Emilie works for a local engineering company and has a major flare for creativity, and Victoria is an amazingly talented tattoo artist. Although we had never met before, the girls were so friendly and made me feel welcome in their home. The true Boscombe spirit if I ever saw it!
Trish – Local Artist (and Bentley the dog)
“There’s such an encouraging and fun atmosphere here at Studio 2, it helps us develop our own unique styles. I love the bohemian feel of Boscombe, with the vintage shops and real mix of people. The Crooked Book is one of my favourite places to visit. It reminds me a lot the suburbs of London, with such a mixture of people and cultures.”
Trish has been a resident artist at Studio 2 for the past 2 years. She is amazingly talented, with a wide range of artistic styles. Her adorable dog Bentley also loves the Boscombe life, and his favourite thing to do is play with his friend Rosie in Studio 2. Trish and all of the resident artists at Studio 2 love the bohemian, artistic and culturally diverse are that Boscombe has become, and I wholeheartedly agree!
Christina – Studio 2
“Studio 2 has been here on Roumelia Lane for 2 years now. We were attracted here by the affordability and support given by Boscombe Regeneration, however we’ve found that there are lots of like-minded people. It’s turned into a bit of an art hub. I love the flavour of Boscombe, it’s not bland like some other areas in Bournemouth and it’s accommodating to different cultures. Everyone here is on a similar wavelength, no matter what their age.”
Christina is the owner of the collaborative art space Studio 2 on Roumelia Lane. She is a beautiful, talented and creative soul. Her studio plays host to 5 resident artists and 1 part time artist, giving them a chance to work together and share ideas and inspiration. Studio 2 is an oasis of creativity in the middle of Boscombe, and anyone who visits is made to feel welcome. I love what this group of artists is achieving, and they definitely make an amazing contribution to Boscombe’s ever growing creative community.
Rachel – Photography student at Arts University Bournemouth
“I’d heard a lot of horror stories about Boscombe, but my opinion of the area changed once I started visiting more regularly. It’s a true community here and people seem to know each. It’s a really nice place to visit, I love Rosie’s café, SIX gallery, the Royal arcade, and the architecture is really nice. It’s the little things that make Boscombe special, like the graffiti art bringing colour to the street and the music and art festival at Chaplin’s. There are lots of nice people here, you just need to give them a chance.”
Rachel is a talented photographer and student at the Arts University Bournemouth. She started visiting Boscombe regularly to work with SIX gallery and it has changed her opinion of the area completely. After hearing the negative stories about Boscombe and the people who live and work in the area she has found it to be a community full of creativity.
Danni – Student at AUB and member of Public Art Bournemouth Events Team
“Boscombe is portrayed in a negative way to students and the general public. With the Roumelia Lane Festival we wanted to show the true sense of community that Boscombe has by bringing colour, light and music. It’s a really misunderstood area, and we want to show people that there is more to Boscombe! We’ve been working with Chaplin’s, Creative Kids and Ninety Degrees studio to put on this community event for all ages.”
Danni and the Public Art Bournemouth team are a group of students currently studying Arts and Event Management at the Arts University Bournemouth. Danni and her team noticed Boscombe was a true community and wanted to help showcase its talent and spirit. Working closely with local businesses and charities such as Creative Kids they hosted an amazing community event – The Roumelia Lane Festival. Live music, live art, creative art projects for younger children, face painting and sunshine – what more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon and it was all here in Boscombe! Public Arts Bournemouth are a dedicated group of students and I would definitely recommend looking out for any future events they host!
Chris – Boscombe resident
“I really like Boscombe. It’s got a great beach, there’s lots of good shops, you’ve got the parks with facilities like the free basketball courts and quite a few nice bars and cafes. I really like Chaplin’s bar, it’s great for live music and a lot of local bands play there. Urban Beach and Reef Encounter are great too, they’re good places to go and relax after work. You get a mixture of people in Boscombe and they’re not all bad, I’ve never had any problems in the area.”
Chris has lived in Boscombe for 6 years and really likes Boscombe. He enjoys playing basketball on the free court facilities in Boscombe Gardens on his days off. The mixture of independent bars and cafes, great beaches and public facilities are some of the reasons why he loves the area and isn’t planning on leaving any time soon!
Alex – Boscombe Resident
“I like the variety of things there are to do in Boscombe. There’s shopping, lots of great restaurants and cafes, the beach, the parks, even the football stadium if that’s what you’re in to. There are so many great independent restaurants and cafes. I love Monty’s Lounge and Cafe Boscanova! So many people here are passionate about adding to the community and making it a better place, whether it be the Great Exhibition of Boscombe or the Vintage Market. It show’s that people care and it really is a nice place to work and live.”
Alex is a hardworking investment banker as well as a dedicated family man who also has a clear passion for the area in which he has lived for the past 5 years. It’s residents like Alex as well as initiatives like The Great Exhibition of Boscombe that make it such a wonderful place filled with a passionate and enthusiastic people!
Simon and Roxy – Boscombe residents
Simon – “I can’t think of a better place to live than Boscombe and I’ll never leave. There’s no better place than Boscombe! You’ve got such great things here, there’s the library on your doorstep, great parks and gardens, the seafront, high street and coffee shops. It has a lot more going for it than other places. There’s a strong community and people you can trust, people seem to miss that. As long as you stay away from drugs you won’t have a problem.”
Roxy – “I love the people and I love chasing my tennis ball around Boscombe High Street! It’s my favourite thing!” (Although I don’t speak Dog, I’m pretty sure that’s what she was trying to say)
Simon and Roxy live in Boscombe and are true members of the community. Simon has a true love of the area, and agrees that Boscombe has a lot going for it! He obviously takes amazing care of his lovely dog Roxy, who is one of the friendliest and most well trained dogs I’ve met in a long time. Full of energy and love for her owner! You can’t help but smile when you see these two walking around the high street.
Kirsty – Resident of Boscombe
“The people I’ve encountered here have been really friendly. I love the shops and the vintage market, you can get everything you need and there’s always a bargain to be hand in Boscombe. I feel like I can trust people in Boscombe, and although it has its problems people here are much nicer than other areas.”
Kirsty has lived in Boscombe for the past 7 years and believes that it has really improved in that time. She has lived many areas across the UK including London and Liverpool believes that people in Boscombe are friendlier, trustworthy and far from what some may assume a typical Boscombe resident to be. She is proud to be live in Boscombe and is a big supporter of the community projects trying to improve its public image such as The Great Exhibition of Boscombe.
Liv Kelly – Freelance Creative and all-round awesome lady!
“I’ve always had family who live in Boscombe and have many fond memories of playing in Kings Park as a child. I love the beach! There’s a great vibe here, people are really friendly and you always get to chat to someone new. I did my student placement with Creative Kids and it was only then that I realised how much of a creative hub Boscombe is, and just how much there is going on.”
Liv frequently visits and works in Boscombe and loves the creativity and friendly people. She is looking forward to moving to Pokesdown and spending more time enjoying the Boscombe scene. Liv is a multi-talented freelance creative, and has a talent for everything from photography to set design. Starting her own business Paper Moon she is destined for great things and aims to set up studio space in Boscombe to help her reach her career goals.
Sara – Volunteer Coordinator of the Boscombe Vintage Market
“Boscombe has the right ingredients of people; it’s quirky and full of creatives. Boscombe has a soul that you don’t find in other areas, and that’s one of the reasons the market works so well here. We’ve managed to make this a success with the support of the community and the Boscombe Regeneration team. My favourite time to be in Boscombe and at the Vintage Market is in the summer; it’s really colourful and there are so many beautiful things to buy. A lot of the traders here have been with us from the beginning and it’s been great to see them grow and become successful, and it’s really nice that they started off in Boscombe!”
Sara believes that it’s the soul and community spirit of Boscombe that keeps the Boscombe Vintage Market going so successfully. The quirky people of Boscombe and the plethora of independent creative businesses are some of the many reasons that Sara loves the area and will always strive to keep the Vintage Market in its true home – Boscombe! To me the Vintage Market is one of the highlights of Boscombe, and for any vintage, craft and handmade fans out there it is a must see
Vanessa – Dorset Scrapstore
“As a charity we’ve been in Puddletown since 1999 but we set up our Boscombe store in November 2012. We originally moved here because of affordability, but we love it here! We’ve thrived in Boscombe and our membership has doubled. I know that Boscombe has a bit of a reputation, but we’ve felt so welcomed by everyone. If we ever had to move again we’d definitely be staying in Boscombe.”
Despite its pre-existing bad reputation, Vanessa has found Boscombe to be a welcoming and friendly community with a lot of local creativity. Vanessa and a group of dedicated volunteers run the Dorset Scrapstore in Boscombe. Simply put it’s an absolutely magical place, and a must visit place for anyone crafty or creative. Their core values of reusing, recycling and giving back to the community are a brilliant addition to Boscombe.
Mike Patten – AUB Fine Art student and intern at SIX gallery
“There’s a lot of diversity in Boscombe. I love the vintage shops, there’s always a lot of retro and quirky things to find. Bournemouth is much more fast paced and people here are more relaxed. I love the record shops like Snu-Peas, hunting for old records is one of my favourite things to do here. Interning at SIX gallery is really good. It’s a great place to meet all the creative people in the community.”
Mike is a Fine Art student at AUB. Working at SIX gallery on Roumelia Lane he is a great addition to Boscombe’s ever growing creative community. Mike and a small group of Fine Art students will soon be hosting a Boscombe inspired exhibition in the area. More details coming soon!
Jamie Miller – Crooked Book
“Boscombe is the heart of Bournemouth. There’s a real sense of community you don’t find in other areas. We have our regular customers and we’re friendly with all the other shopkeepers around here. There’s a lot of history here, and Boscombe’s where all the cool s**t happens!”
The Crooked Book is a little gem in Boscombe’s vintage district. The best way to describe it is if Aladdin’s Cave sold kick-ass coffee! Jamie has run the crooked book for around 3 years and his store has already become legendary. It’s one of the best places to go to find vintage bargains and a great cup of coffee. Jamie and the team have the true Boscombe community spirit, and that’s what Boscombe is really all about.
Sarah – Rose Red Records
“It’s quirky, and there are a lot of nice people who live and work here. There’s a bit of an independent scene going on here with lots of independent businesses. We love the royal arcade. As well as being affordable for independent businesses this is such a lovely building with great architecture. Being next to the O2 Academy we often get bands that are performing come into our store and sign our wall. There are so many good local bands, and one of our aims is to support local talent.”
Sarah and the team at Rose Red Records are extremely supportive of local talent. Local bands regularly have gigs in store and can sell their music commission free. They are an asset not only to the Royal Arcade but to Boscombe in general. Whether you’re a music fan looking to add to your collection of vinyl, or a local unsigned band looking for somewhere to showcase your talents Rose Red is well worth a look.
Latona – English Rose Café
“I’ve worked in Boscombe for 6 years. People here are genuine, what you see is what you get! The architecture is really nice, there are so many interesting buildings. We get regulars in our café everyday, and of course you get some characters but it’s not as bad as people say, and people in other areas can be so much more uptight.”
Latona is a team member at the family run business English Rose Café. The whole family are friendly and always offer service with a smile. They get a dedicated band of regular customers in the café every day, which is a testament to the true community spirit that exists in Boscombe.
Steve – Pier Fisherman
“I’ve lived in Boscombe since the 1970’s and I like it here. It’s really close to the seafront, and I often go fishing on the beach and pier. Fishing around here is good, recently I’ve caught Plaice and Flounder and today my son has caught a Sea Bass that we’ll be cooking tonight. People in Boscombe are generally really nice.”
I met Steven on Boscombe Pier fishing with his son. They were both really friendly and welcoming, and more than happy to tell me all about the world of Pier Fishing. The true Boscombe spirit, and a great father-son bonding activity.
Noel – Artist and owner of Grove Studio
“Boscombe is creating a real thriving community of artistic people, from outsider/raw artists to professionals. Students from the local university are wanting to stay in the area after graduation, which is helping to fuel this creative vibe. There is both a café and a pavement culture in Boscombe which helps keep the community vibe going. You can sit at a table outside a café and actually see people rather than just communicating online.”
Noel is an amazingly talented artist who runs her own successful business Grove Studios. Having moved to the area 20 years ago, she still very much loves Boscombe and can see that there are changes happening for the better. Let’s keep our creative hub and café culture alive!
Annie and Lizzie- AUB students and creators of The Picture Club
“It’s got some colourful people, but it’s a really fun place. Boscombe has lots of good things to offer but a lot of them aren’t very well known. There are some really interesting and random things around, like The Factory Studio, Yoga center. We love the charity shops, you can get some really great bargains.”
Annie and Lizzie are fun, creative and hardworking students from the Arts University Bournemouth. They are also creators of The Picture Club, a project that aims to re-connect films with their audience. Films are screened in sets that are dressed to immerse viewers in the film itself, giving them a unique experience. With the cost of cinema skyrocketing, these pioneers are aiming to make film accessible to everyone. More events coming soon, for more info visit their Facebook page.
Jamie – Team member at the rather awesome Cafe Boscanova
“I really like Boscombe, it has a lot more character than other areas. I find Bournemouth town center really fast paced with people always coming and going, but Boscombe seems to have more depth and people around here care more. There are so many places around here that a great to go to, and lots of good cafe’s and restaurants.”
Jamie has lived and worked in Boscombe for over 2 years and has a clear passion for the area. He is a member of the team at Cafe Boscanova, which to me and many people I know is the heart of the Boscombe community. Jamie and the Boscanova team are a hardworking friendly bunch who make everyone feel welcome. Their food is amazing, and in my opinion their blueberry pancakes can’t be beaten.
Jessie – Arts University Bournemouth Student
“Boscombe is such a creative area with lots of little vintage shops around. When you go out you never know what you’re going to find. The pier is one of my favourite things, being able to wake up and walk down here is so refreshing and really helps to clear your head.”
Jessie moved to Bournemouth is September and has already fallen in love with Boscombe. Studying Interior Architecture at the Arts University Bournemouth she is a creative individual and is enjoying her studies and living the Boscombe life.
Stuart – Ward 9 Gallery
“Our aim is to provide a platform for local artists and creative people to grow. Boscombe has a creative vibe”
As well as running the gallery, Stuart is an artist himself and extremely dedicated to fundraising. Ward 9 caters for a whole range of different artists and outsider art, and encourages artists from all walks of life to show and promote their work. Ward 9 look out for the best interests of their fellow artists and genuinely care about helping them succeed.
Miguel – Frog Bros Comics
“Of course you get a few bad characters but no more than you would anywhere else, and we don’t get shoplifters. What Boscombe has a sense of community, and people here strive to succeed that you don’t see in other places.”
“My favorite comic book character would probably have to be Batman!”
Moving to Boscombe from London, Miguel is the co-owner of Frog Bros Comics. Starting out in Boscombe’s Vintage Market, Frog Bros is now one of the flagship stores of the Royal Arcade.
Fay Barnes – Trader in Boscombe’s Royal Arcade
“Boscombe has a real sense of community, and the energy seems to be focused on art and design projects. Everyone here is alternative, and it’s ok to be different”
Fay runs an alternative shop and art space in the Royal Arcade. She lives in Poole, but feels Boscombe is a much nicer place to be. She is an artist and business woman and runs her shop successfully with the help of her colleague Andy.
Fay is one of my favorite people I’ve met during my project so far. She is a happy and caring and creative woman and has an amazing sense of personal style!
Jordan Trent – Bag Maker and Designer at Big Top
“I love the character and architecture of Boscombe. It’s the only interesting place in Bournemouth. Being pedestrianised is really convenient and makes it easier to walk around.”
Jordan is a bag maker and designer who runs his own very successful business Big Top. He is currently based at The Factory Studios where he makes his hand made bags and accessories with materials sourced from UK suppliers.
Jordan is a hardworking and talented entrepreneur, and working in Boscombe has helped take his business to the next level.
Ashley Peevor – Resident Artist at The Factory Studios
“Boscombe has little pockets of creativity that are unique and interesting. There is so much going on here and it has so much potential.”
“Organisations offering funding should look at grass roots projects and find out what’s really going on from the ground up.”
Ashley is a resident artist and creative based at The Factory Studios. The former AUB Student Union President has created some unique and interesting pieces, including a series of installations for this years Arts by the Sea Festival. Another outstanding talent housed right here in Boscombe!