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Published on Tuesday 15 November 2022

A leading zoologist and marine biologist of the 19thcentury is to be celebrated through a new art mural, organised by BCP Council as part of their Poole regeneration programme.

Philip Henry Gosse grew up on Skinner Street in Poole in the 1800s and coined the word ‘Aquarium’ after he created and stocked the first public aquarium at the London Zoo in 1853.

His interest in marine biology was reflected in the many beautiful illustrations dotted throughout his publications.

Now Poole-based Paintshop Studio, led by Rick Walker and Sandra Ramos – are set to recreate his drawings in a mural on 58 High Street, Poole, with work due to finish this week.

Gosse’s distant relative Cllr Mark Howell, who represents Poole Town ward, will be there to celebrate the new mural.

Artist Rick said: "By recreating Gosse’s artworks, as true to his as possible but at a scale they have never been seen before, we’re showing them in an environment that is as alien as they would have appeared to human audiences when first published."

The Gosse mural is funded by Historic England and Poole BID, as part of the Poole High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme (HAZ), run in partnership with Historic England and BCP Council.

The HAZ programme aims to give Poole High Street a new ‘lease of life’ fuelling economic, social, and cultural recovery following the impact of COVID-19, by transforming dilapidated buildings into new homes, shops and work or community spaces.

As part of HAZ, extra funding has been secured from Poole BID to deliver a range of cultural activities to engage people in Poole’s heritage, including popup community engagement events, school workshops and a community play.

Councillor Philip Broadhead, BCP Council deputy leader and cabinet member for regeneration, said: "I’m excited our transformative plans for Poole High Street are well underway with this vibrant new art mural.

"The Gosse mural forms part of our plans to make the town centre more attractive to residents, businesses and visitors by revealing hidden histories, repairing and revitalising the historic environment supporting sympathetic development, and creating a legacy for the future care of the high street."

Jacqui Rock, Poole BID Lead, said: "This has been an exciting project to work on because not only are we bringing accessible art to the high-street, but I am also happy to see that we are working with one of our local businesses from Poole Town.

"The finished piece will also demonstrate the wonderful heritage that Poole has to offer, which will be reflected in the artwork for many years to come."

Poole Town Ward Cllr Mark Howell is related to Gosse. He said: "I’m proud to be related to Henry and it’s wonderful to see him remembered in this way. This mural will be something beautiful for Poole residents and visitors to enjoy and will hopefully help young people to be inspired by their natural surroundings as Henry was."

Editor’s notes:

Born in Worcester in 1810, Gosse grew up in Skinner Street, Poole, and was a leading naturalist and marine biologist.

At fifteen he worked as a clerk in the counting house of George Garland and Sons in Poole, leaving the town in 1827 to sail to Newfoundland, a key trading partner of Poole and a main part of what makes up the town’s rich heritage.

Gosse went on to publish many works of natural and marine history, which included his drawings and paintings of the natural world.

In 2021, a new blue plaque was unveiled at Skinner Street Church to commemorate Gosse.

Poole has a mix of Georgian houses, fine Victorian commercial buildings and 1930s art deco shopfronts. It has origins as a medieval fishing harbour and went on to become a major port.

Poole High Street HAZ Cultural Programme

Poole High Street was selected as one of 68 high streets across England to receive £625,000 from Historic England matched by money from the Community Infrastructure Levy to create a project fund of £1.25 million over three years.

Read more here.

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