A group of local artists who have spent months converting a Swindon town centre shop unit into a gallery to showcase their work will see their efforts rewarded on Thursday 14 Dec when their new home is officially opened.

Swindon Artists Forum, a group of artists living within 25 miles of the town, and dedicated to making art affordable to the public and encouraging art in Swindon, will be joined by Robert Hiscox DL, chair of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery Trust, who will officially open the Forum’s new space.

Andrew Hubble, chairman of Swindon Artists Forum, said the group has been in existence for 20 years, and has spent most of that time in units within the Brunel shopping centre, which supports the Forum by offering reduced rates.

The Forum gives a percentage of the commission taken on sales to local charities, and has raised more than £18,000 for Prospect Hospice over the years, as well as distributing funds to other local charities.

“Eight months ago we took on this current unit and built new walls, decorated and decided to really promote the gallery to provide the best conditions possible to portray the quality of work our members produce,” said Andrew.

“This was completed by volunteers from the group, apart from the electrical work which the Brunel provided and was done by professional tradesmen. Judging by the feedback we’ve had, we feel the effort was worth it.

“We wanted Robert Hiscox to open the Gallery because of his commitment to the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery bid for HLF funding, and also because of his interest in art. I also wanted a prominent person from this area, as I am a Swindonian and have always felt that Swindon needs to rise above the negative press it receives. Supporting art and culture, even in difficult financial times, is important. If an amateur group can achieve this, imagine what the professionals will be able to do.”

Robert Hiscox said he was delighted to be asked to open the new gallery.

“Swindon Artists Forum has been doing a great job for two decades, with the support of The Brunel, encouraging local artists, giving them the chance to bring their work to the public, and helping worthy local charities like Prospect along the way.

“It is absolutely proven that art and artists improve any town or area they congregate in and I believe Swindon is on the cusp of a cultural revolution.

“I applaud the dedication of the artists and volunteers who have worked so hard, and once again it reinforces my experience that Swindon is a town of creative, entrepreneurial and very community-minded people.”

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