WHEN acclaimed Valleys artist David Garner was forced out of the studio he had used for16 years, he did not know what he would do.
But a simple solution was at hand when Risca Comprehensive Community School offered him one of their art rooms to use as a base and to become its permanent artist in residence.
He snapped up the offer made by the school’s headteacher John Kendall and started at the school in December.
The room is now his art studio and he occasionally helps children with their work as part of his “unprecedented” role.
Mr Garner said, of losing his studio: “It was my worst nightmare. It’s incredibly difficult to find suitable and affordable studio space, even more so in the Valleys.”
He said he was “absolutely flabbergasted” by Mr Kendall’s offer.
Mr Kendall said he had jumped at the chance to invite Mr Garner to work at the school when he found he had been told he had to leave his studio, which was in the InfoQuest building in Pontllanfraith and shut by Caerphilly County Borough Council as part of budget cuts.
Mr Kendall said: “It is a big boost for the school to have him here. It is a win–win for everyone. It’s the equivalent of the PE Department having one of the Welsh rugby team working with them.”
Mr Garner has recently worked with GCSE Art students to design a life size replica of the Arbeit Macht Frei sign that hung outside several Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, most infamously at Auschwitz. It was used for the school’s commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day.
Mr Garner, who is originally from Ebbw Vale, studied at the Newport College of Art, Cardiff College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London in the 1980s.
Although he does not belong to a political party, much of his work is politically charged. His father was a miner for 50 years and Mr Garner took part in the protests during the miners’ strike in 1984/5.He has won the Ivor Davies award and Richard and Rosemary Wakelin award for his work.
He produced the exhibition Shift, the last temporary visual arts exhibition at Newport Art Gallery before council budget cuts.