” In 2014 I took on the former library building in Ynyshir, saving it from being lost at public auction. After the village lost its day centre & library – we wanted to retain at least one place in the village where anyone could visit for free and socialise with others in a warm friendly environment.
It has always been both a privilege and a struggle to trade as a commercial gallery within an area of severe deprivation. I do have a social conscious, hence the name the ‘Workers Gallery’ and I believe art can agitate and provoke for positive social & cultural change. We exhibit original art by artists from Wales and Europe & our main gallery is fully booked until 2021. We manage 20-30 artist enquiries per week and we cannot meet the demand for exhibition space.
We have had a lot of support from a range of people who have helped us maintain our purposefully NOT publicly funded ethos. In response to local demand we offer a photocopying service, run a knitting & sewing group, run activities with the local school and family art groups and we hold an art reference book library of donated books for all to use. There is always a hot drink & biscuits available.
In the last few months we have seen the quality of life for many local people diminishing rapidly. We are now a donations collection point for the Rhondda Foodbank. We have seen a huge increase in the demand for the photocopying of evidence for benefit applications and appeals, and things like sick notes and time sheets for jobs where they are required for payment but they are not supplied by the employer.
People have come into the gallery for food & we’ve had people without shoes come into the gallery.
We saw the work of social documentary photographer J A (Jim) Mortram and his 10 year documentation of his experience of being a full time Carer and the others he has met who have been badly affected by austerity. His work ‘Small Town Inertia’ is a mirror of some of the experiences we are having and some of the lives of the people we see on a weekly basis.
We were delighted that he felt our gallery & community was exactly the right place to show his award winning and acclaimed work. We have fundraised to bring the show here.
From 20 June – 27 July we will be exhibiting Jim’s show. We know it will be a raw & difficult show for some people to see – but it is a very important body of work & it is amazing for us to be showing it in our small gallery tucked away in the valleys.
We want as many people as possible to see it & we want to build a programme of talks and workshops to accompany the show.
We are hoping that third sector organisations, support groups, mental health and welfare organisations etc will come a view the show early on & that we can create an event that will be a vehicle to discuss the issues raised by the show.
We want it to make a difference”.
Gayle Rogers PhD
Resident artist & Gallerist
Contact The Workers Gallery via information on their website: https://www.workersgallery.co.uk/
Workers Gallery 99 Ynyshir Rd, Ynyshir, RCT, Wales CF39 0EN
T: 01443 682024