NEWPORT shone the spotlight on its creative talent this weekend with 27 central venues taking part in a sprawling display.

The weekend-long Art on the Hill festival returned for its seventh year from Friday, November 24, to Sunday, November 26.

A volunteer-run festival, produced in collaboration with Newport Museum and Arts Gallery, Cwtsh, The Riverfront and Newport Live, AOTH 2023 challenged people to collect ten stamps – each from a different participating venue – in order to be entered into a raffle draw.

Festival director Sarah Goody, an avid artist who works for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, says the event is about showcasing the city’s creative offerings.

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“We often think we have to look outside Newport for creative work, art, and critical discourse, but we’ve got so much going on here,” she says.

She is joined by Blackwood artist Thomas Bartlett at the Newport Rising Hub on Commercial Street – venue number 21.

For Bartlett, whose shadowy, post-industrial depictions of Mynydd y Lan adorn the hub walls, the weekend also offers a chance to open up about his work.

“Most of my work is about my own state of mind, and now it’s out in the world,” he says. “I teach people how to talk about art, but I find it hard to talk about my own.”

In the disused telephone box on Bridge Street, passers-by stop and stare at Marega’s “Climate Lab”.

“It started with a question from a 12-year-old girl, who asked a scientist: ‘Knowing what you know, how do you feel?’. Scientists never get asked how they feel.”

Marega says she likes to see her work in “unlikely places”, filling the voids of empty doorways and hanging from faceless street furniture.

South Wales Argus: Marega sitting at her "Climate Lab"

“It gives people a chance to come across art work they might not expect,” she says.

Goody agrees. “I think social media has killed the poster – I would love to see more posters around Newport,” she says. “They are accessible to make and see.”

For arts and community space The Place, also on Bridge Street, Art on the Hill is like Christmas come early, counting more than 80 stamp-collecting visitors on Saturday alone.

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Turn left, and you’ll find a film of speckled post-war footage, with chiselled-off pews instead of cinema seats. Turn right, and you’ll find yourself immersed in an underground experience, swatting the roots of plants from your face.

Keith Harris, 62, has enlisted Optics Shop onto the venues list.

“I’m excited about anything that happens in Newport,” he said. “Anything that brings people in – and this is doing that.

“It’s just about new ideas to bring new people into art. The market has a lovely space for displays on the walls.

“It’s got to get bigger from here.”