Known for its vibrant sense of community, Rhiwbina is home to many wonderful independent businesses. One of these success stories is The Art Workshop, which is celebrating ten years in the community this year.
Over that decade, the Art School on Lôn Fach has become a much-loved and integral part of Rhiwbina life. Headed up by owner Genevieve Loxton, the story of how the business came into being is perhaps less well-known.
“I had always practised and studied Art but started out with a career in journalism and worked as a Radio Producer,” says Genevieve. “I’d done well there, but always wanted to create a business of my own working in Fine Art, where my heart really lay.”
Genevieve took the leap to switch careers, went back to studying and graduated from Cardiff School of Art and Design with a first-class honours degree in Fine Art Painting.
“I went back into higher education at that point really because my father passed away. It was a catalyst for me – it made me realise that time is too short not to go for what you want.”
Not long after Genevieve had graduated, the current studio in the village became available to rent.
“My kids were going to Rhiwbeina Primary School and Whitchurch High at the time and I remember cutting through Lôn Fach and seeing an advert in the window saying ‘Premises To Rent’.
“I went home and asked the family what they thought about the idea of setting up my own art teaching business and they were all for it. I set the Workshop up with an artist friend and fellow graduate Martha and we did it all on shoestring.
“Our first classes only had a few people in them but we played to our strengths, leading with what we had studied. We put everything into creating the kind of courses that we would have wanted to attend. I taught oil painting and drawing while Martha ran sculpture workshops and started up the Junior Academy,” says Gen.
The workshop soon became a firm favourite with the locals who wanted to explore a world of art that possibly seemed out of reach.
“Everyone in life has something to say and art is one way of expressing what people feel and think. Other people like to write, or maybe enjoy music. Art shouldn’t be elitist, it’s another way of getting your viewpoint out into the world and what’s surprising is that it might be more accessible than you think.
“People often think that they’d be no good at art but that’s why we are here. We provide you with the skills and the confidence to express yourself in ways you may not have ever imagined -all within a supportive and nurturing environment here at the studio.”
The workshop has overcome many challenges during its ten years.
“The pandemic was a real test for us. We had to adapt – and quickly – so we moved many of our classes online. We learnt very quickly that we could still teach, and that our students could still learn effectively, even from home.”
The workshop now has around 150 students of all ages coming their doors every week.
“People have that itch to create something. When you come to study here, you’ll find it stimulating, comforting, and it’ll give you a great sense of achievement.
“We now have six terms a year and nine members of the teaching team. Our courses are created from scratch each term. A lot of research goes into them and this allows our content to stay fresh all year round.”
Martha has moved now to live in West Wales, but her Mum, artist and well-known painting conservator Kate Lowry, is a key part of the team, teaching Watercolours.
“Our tutors are wonderful, there are lots of great artists out there, but not everyone can teach. We have Petra Couper, Imogen Lee, Bill Chambers, Nicole Smith, Janine Cooper-Plant, Karen O’Shea, Hollie Roberts and Kate, and we are all dedicated and focused on delivering well-planned, engaging art teaching, whatever your abilities.
“We offer decades of experience and knowledge to help people to discover something new, and we are regularly told we’ve given people a whole new perspective on life though the classes.
“We also give opportunities to selected Art students to gain relevant paid work experience as studio assistants, which is so difficult to find. That’s helped many get into top Art Colleges.”
The Art Workshop continues to play an important role in the community. They provide everything from drawing, acrylics, watercolours, textile art, printmaking, photography and oil painting for adult learners, as well as the Junior Art Academy and Teens Art Group.
“We love being part of the community” says Gen, “whether that’s giving people a way of expressing themselves through our classes, the friendly, social aspect of being part of our groups, or by creating annual murals for the Rhiwbina Festivals and inviting the public to our student exhibitions.”
A: Lôn Fach, Rhiwbina
T: 07947 003111
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