A FREE nine-day arts trail has opened with Trowbridge mayor Denise Bates and the organisers proudly showing their visual map on display at the Town Hall.

Cllr Denise Bates joined Cloth Road Arts to help the not-for-profit collective formed in 2004 to promote local artists and artisans in west Wiltshire.

Cloth Road Arts chairman Cath Siswick said: “Cloth Road Arts Week is a free nine-day visual feast in the form of an art trail celebrating the superb creativity of talented local artists and artisans.

“We have 69 artists and artisans in 32 venues taking part. You will be able to find galleries, workshops, and individual makers’ studios, where artists will be delighted to meet with you to discuss their work.

“We are pleased to be associated with Trowbridge Town Hall Gallery, where this year you will find a central exhibition combining the work of artists participating in the Arts Week.

“The exhibition will be a great place to start the trail, allowing visitors to get a taste of the artwork up close before deciding which artists to visit first.”

The Arts Week provides an open studios tour from April 30 to May 8 in Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge and Melksham and the surrounding area.

It will feature prints, paintings, ceramics, textiles, photography, drawing, sculpture, installations and more.

This year also sees the launch of the Cloth Road Young Arts featuring the work of young up-and-coming artists and artisans from local schools: the Clarendon Academy and John of Gaunt School in Trowbridge, Melksham Oak School and St Laurence School in Bradford on Avon.

Abbie Bowker, 17, of John of Gaunt School, who paints with acrylics, is exhibiting her work Time in Pieces in the Trowbridge Town Hall exhibition.

The painting is about the time she spent in hospital recovering from a deep wound infection after undergoing surgery and was also chosen by the Royal Academy in London for an online exhibition.

“It’s about time split into fragments and shapes. Time goes very slowly when you are in hospital,” said Abbie, who will go to Cardiff Metropolitan University to study fine art when she leaves school.

“I’d like to pay tribute to my art teacher, Mrs Rebecca Knee, who has pushed me to break artistic boundaries. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Over the next few years, Cloth Road Arts will stage a programme of events and opportunities to support the development of young artists in the area.

There is also a ‘Mini Masterpiece’ competition designed to engage young artists aged up to 12. Prizes will be awarded in two categories, under 10s and 10s and over. The deadline for entries is May 31.