TOGETHER WE ART!
My very first solo show of the work I’m doing of ancestral monuments on The Mabinogion’s Boar Hunt is coming up in September in the fabulous Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley. It’s a terrific gallery run by illustrator Gayle Rogers and sculptor Chris Williams who took over the former library in the village when it was closed due to austerity cutbacks.
Back at the end of 2014 Gayle and Chris made a leap of faith to bring the building back into use. They’re both from nearby Ystrad Rhondda and worked hard to get a lease on the modern one-storey building, which now offers a substantial main gallery for their programme of major shows, a second exhibition space for their hand-picked gallery artists, a community wall for local arts groups, a thriving venue for public meetings and events, and a full programme of arts workshops. It also offers space for Gayle’s own illustration studio.
Gayle and Chris offer an innovative membership scheme ‘The Workers Mates’ which recently reached a hundred members and the gallery has also promoted more than a hundred artists in their first year of opening.
“It’s been amazing! As well as all the things going on in gallery we’ve also acted as a touring agent in Abergavenny and nearby Porth with our BIGsmallART tour, and the Rhondda Historical Society has also found a home here. People thought we were mad opening a gallery in a place like Ynyshir. But now some of those same people bring their friends here to show US off. Our main gallery has shows booked until Easter 2017.”
Gayle and her husband Chris, who runs a sculpture studio next door, worked very hard to get the gallery launched, but their struggles paid off and they eventually established themselves in the heart of the Rhondda community.
According to Gayle,
“We spent the first month being sad about the library’s closure, but then we thought we’d try and get it re-opened. It was quite painful learning about utility bills and credit card machines. The council has since got much better at setting up an asset transfer system, but as one of the first to go through we were something of a trial run and it took a long time. It has been nice that people from across Wales in a similar situation have called us asking for advice about re-opening closed services.”
LOCATION: 99 Ynyshir Road, Ynyshir, CF39 0EN RCT South Wales UK – opposite the War Memorial on Ynyshir main road, near Porth, Rhondda.
BUS: On Regular Bus route Cardiff to Maerdy, 132 Stagecoach Wales
TRAIN: 15-20 min walk from Porth Station
BICYCLE: Just off the Cycle Trail 881 (take green bridge to Ynyshir, turn right along Ynyshir Road)
ACCESS: Main entrance to the public spaces (which are the main gallery, art library, gallery artists gallery & people’s art wall) on side road is accessible by wheelchair. Access to Gayle’s studio space by wheelchair entrance is via the main road if required- this is a fire door exit at all other times. Otherwise the studio is accessible within the building from the main gallery by 3 steps with hand rails on either side.
Street parking only. For ease of access, park in the side road.