DAVID and Carole Bent are not just participants in and supporters of art - they are also passionate advocates.

Both are strong backers of what is becoming known as the STEM to STEAM movement.

This is the belief that while STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - are valuable, there should be a place among them for the arts.

David said: “We fully understand and support the need nationally for science, technology, engineering and maths to be supported.

“They are important subjects for the greater good of our country, but we feel that to leave all the arts subjects so marginalised that they don’t have any support at all, or little support, is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

“We think STEM ought to be STEAM. There ought to be at least a small ‘a’ there.”

Carole said: “By bringing them together, you’re bringing joint creativity, not just the creativity of the arts but the creativity that exists in the technologies.

“At a time when we’ve got all of this roboticisation and a sense of a lack of humanity in so many areas, the more humanity and creativity you have, the better for society.”

David is originally from Dover and Carole Manchester. They met after David turned full-time to art in 1987 following a stint in business. Carole was a senior executive with a supermarket chain, marshalling creative teams and devising branding.

Later, she was headhunted by WH Smith and the couple moved to Swindon. In 2000, having taken that role as far as she believed she could, she left and began helping David - as she puts it - get his art out into the world.

David is best known for aviation-themed work, but produces a diverse array of pieces.

From March 26 to June 1 next year that diversity, including landscapes, collages and work tackling social issues, will be displayed at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery in an exhibition called Out of the Box, solely devoted to his work.

It was a source of pride for both David and Carole, who have lived in Swindon longer than they have lived anywhere else, when some of his work was acquired for the Swindon collection last year.

David’s interest in aviation stems from his father, who was a committed aircraft enthusiast and model maker. An older brother is a retired RAF Wing Commander.

Early this century, the couple were invited by a friend to visit the Royal International Air Tattoo, and the following year they decided to buy a bargain-priced sales pitch there to sell David’s pieces.

Some promotional work by Carole brought David’s work to the attention of the organisers, not to mention aviators from throughout the world, and by 2006 David was effectively the Red Arrows’ artist in residence.

David and Carole credit many friends and supporters from all walks of life with helping them reach their goals over the years.

They are themselves diehard supporters of the annual Open Studios event, when the public can visit and meet artists, and are full of praise for the organisers, notably Chris Waddell and Caroline Day.

“It provides as framework of support, of experience, of friendship,” said Carole.

“Not everybody needs all of that but there are different things that people can get from it. You can take as much or as little as you need or want.

“From the public’s point of view, it showcases and shares creativity across the entire town. It shows that we are a town full of talented and diverse artists.”