A NEWPORT trader has received council support for a new project to fill the empty stalls on the market’s upper level.

Steve Reynolds, who runs the Toy Army stall, wants to transform the upstairs of Newport Market into an art gallery for artists to showcase and produce new work.

Mr Reynolds said: “I thought it would be a great way for people to discover not only some of the amazing talent we have locally but also what the market has to offer. This will be a unique venue for art in Wales and will make Newport different from other towns and cities.

Named the Upmarket Gallery, the project will be a collaboration between city art groups Bosch and Artopsy.

“There is already so much interest I’m sure we will not have any problem in filling the available units,” Mr Reynolds said, “Everyone I have spoken to about it, from the artists to the council, has been enthusiastic about the venture.”

The University of South Wales has also supported the idea and students will take it in turns to use one of the units.

Mr Reynolds said: “Over the years they’ve tried different things up there. We’ve had business open up and it’s heartbreaking because we know they’re going to be shut up in a few months, because they’re surrounded by empty shops.

“I thought you need something up there that gives it the appearance of being full. This way, businesses stand a chance of surviving for more than three months.

“Everyone downstairs is happy that the space is finally being used.”

Councillor Mark Whitcutt, Newport City Council’s cabinet member for human resources and asset, said: “This is an exciting idea and I would commend Steve for not only coming up with the suggestion but for his work in raising potential interest and the two organisations who are making it a reality. The gallery will make a fantastic and unusual backdrop for art and artists.”

Steven George Jones, of Bosch, who used to be involved with Newport’s popular Empty Shops Project, has agreed to co-ordinate the gallery.

Any artists who are interested in displaying work in the market can contact him on 07980 466262 or email senojnevets@homtail.com