ARTISTS showing their work as part of an international celebration of women have praised a Newport gallery for giving women artists a voice.

Three of the women currently exhibiting work at the Upmarket Gallery in Newport Market, which is full of contemporary sculptures, drawings and paintings, spoke to the Argus about how important the free International Women’s Day exhibition, ending tomorrow, has been.

Rebecca Hoodless, 26, a former Caerleon art student who specialises in big installations, said the gallery’s location in Newport Market meant that a diverse mix of people stop by while doing their shopping.

“A space like this is really important to young artists or those at the beginning of their career,” said Ms Hoodless, who helped organise the final BA Fine Art show ‘Departure’ in Caerleon.

“Now this place is up and running I will be making and finishing work for here, I know there’s somewhere to exhibit. I wasn't given serious opportunities before moving here but I’ve had a lot more feedback and more opportunities in South Wales. If it’s organised properly more empty shops could be used as galleries.”

Suze de Lee, who explores the subconscious through collage, performance, ink drawings and sound art, described Newport’s art scene as individual and unique.

“This is a revival,” said Ms de Lee, 41, who moved to Newport after living all over the world and is now a youth worker at Coleg Gwent. “Opening up these places and empty spaces is breathing life and energy into [them]. You don’t have to have a perfect white cube to show art.

“I work with a lot of young women and for them to engage in the arts is something they can have for the rest of their lives, and through that comes confidence,” she said. “This exhibition is diverse and is embracing women’s contemporary art.”

Former district nurse Sian Leung, 47, whose untitled ceramic piece is on display in the gallery, realised her dream of becoming an artist after nursing her husband, Dr Kwan Leung through his battle with cancer.

After his death she gained a first class honours at the then University of Glamorgan in 2007, and a distinction in masters-level ceramics at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

The trauma of her experiences fed into her work, looking at fragility and strength and described as autoethnography in which artists tell their own story.

“I used myself as a case study,” said Mrs Leung, who was born and raised in Newport. “I’m looking at visual language, because art gives you a voice.

“Sometimes the art fraternity can be very snobby but this exhibition has been all-inclusive, no work has been turned away,” said Mrs Leung, who hopes her next project in print and paint will be all about Newport.

“It’s a wonderful stage to show emerging artists. There’s art on people’s doorsteps and artists that are working on their doorstep.”