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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Artist draws on valley changes
Miners painted by Valerie Ganz
The south Wales valley comunities were built around the mining industry and that has now almost disappeared
Valerie Ganz
The changing face of south Wales is the inspiration behind a new exhibition by Swansea artist Valerie Ganz.

Her latest collection draws on first hand experience, whether joining miners working underground at Tower Colliery or watching musicians at Brecon Jazz.

The wraps will come off her last 18 months' work at Swansea's Attic Gallery later this month.

She said the varied subjects reflect both industrial and cultural changes she has witnessed during her life.

Now in her 60s, she has been a professional artist for more than 30 years.

"The main theme of the exhibition is the changes I have witnessed," she said.

"The south Wales valley communities were built around the mining industry and that has now almost disappeared."

She is probably best known for her paintings of the mining industry and working life underground.

Jazz Jamaica painted at this years Brecon Jazz Festival by Valerie Ganz
Jazz Jamaica captured at this year's Brecon Jazz Festival

Although most pits have long gone she has a long standing friendship with Tower Colliery where she has been allowed access to the pit face while the miners have been working.

"It is the last deep mine in south Wales and allowed me access to what had been lost elsewhere.

"Only one of the paintings, of miners taking a break at the coal face, is underground in this exhibition. All the rest are above the surface."

The region's industrial heritage, including the steel and shipping industries, is a major focus of the exhibition.

"I show Wales at its most industrial and now it's beginning to become clean and green again," she said.

"The landscape has always formed a significant part of my painting.

"I still find Swansea bay fascinating and enjoy observing the rituals of ships arriving and leaving."

Cultural changes form the other main theme of the exhibition.

In 1992 she was the official artist of the Brecon Jazz Festival and has returned most years.

"One year I remember darting around and watched about 11 different concerts during the weekend.

"All the paintings in the exhibition are from this year's festival.

"The Ballet Russe, resident in Swansea, provides me with the opportunity to pursue one of my other favourite subjects."

The Changing Face of South Wales exhibition is at the Attic Gallery between 22 October and 12 November.

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