Swindon artists are in need of more space
SWINDON’S art scene is abuzz with creativity and high-quality work – but people in Swindon may be missing out on the chance to see it.
Two hugely successful exhibitions of work by many of the town’s artists last week dazzled members of the public in Bath – because Swindon has a lack of space to display them.
The two exhibitions, one called Stomping on the Box held at the 44AD gallery by the Swindon Massive, the other called Entomos staged at Walcot Street Chapel by Gina Dunford and Toby Robson, garnered huge interest and saw hundreds of people attend last week.
Around 30 Swindon artists were showcased, including Gordon Dickinson, Enoki Arts, David Foster and David Morse, during the week-long exhibit curated by Bath Spa University MA student and fellow artist Shanta Ranee, while Gina and Toby held a display of insect-inspired works.
Shanta, of Moredon, put the exhibition together to show what artists in her town could do after setting up the Swindon Massive Facebook group and was delighted with the reaction from the Bath public.
The 48-year-old said: “We had more than 120 people to the opening night and people were amazed that the quality of work had come from artists in Swindon.
“I set up the Facebook page to get all the artists together and I’ve already got about 80 joining the group called the Swindon Massive. I got them to post their work on the page and then selected some to be in the exhibition.
“We had about 29 artists represented in total and we had to use three van-loads to transport the works to Bath. The response we had was brilliant and I will be looking at doing more shows like this.”
Shanta added that while the Landing, at the Arts Centre, and the Artsite gallery in the town centre, were good local facilities there was a lack of spaces large enough to attract wider audiences in the town.
She said: “Swindon has this bad reputation that the cultural landscape is pretty non-existent but that is simply not true. I find it really frustrating that people are quite derogatory about Swindon – I think this kind of exhibit is how we turn it around.
“It’s a shame, we really need to have more contemporary art space so that we can hold this sort of exhibition here. Artsite is great but you can only get so much on display and attract only so many people, plus there is a long waiting list.”
Among the artists whose work went on show was Gordon Dickenson, who said the event had been a roaring success and he had hoped something similar could have happened in Swindon.
He said: “The exhibition was brilliant, very well put together. It was great to see Swindon artists showcasing what we can do and Swindon has taken over Bath.
“Of course the only place to exhibit here is Artsite, which is good for getting friends and family there but often not the wider public.”
Meanwhile, Gina hosted the Entomos exhibit which showed off sculptures, paintings and textiles inspired, influenced and even made by insects.
“The week culminated with a chance to try eating insects, to tie in with a theme of finding a sustainable food source in an impending food crisis.
Gina, 33, said: “It was a very interesting, educational exhibition which promoted insects as well as fine art, sculpture and painting.
“We held it in Bath because we wanted to have the right space to display it.
“It would be nice to be able have these exhibitions in Swindon, and nice for people in the town to see them too, because we are all from Swindon.”
To find out more about Swindon’s art scene, see the Swindon Massive Facebook page.
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