ANDY Hubble’s love of art and artists goes back to a hobby begun in adversity - but not by him.

“My father was an artist - he was good.

“He started painting by numbers when he had a heart attack. Art took him from there.

“He found it calmed him down and kept him emotionally stable. He went on from that to doing his own art; he went to art classes and met new people.”

Andy’s own interest in art began then and has never abated. His partner, Michelle, is an artist, and Andy himself also creates pieces, although he readily admits doing so on a more limited scale.

“I do a little bit now and again, and I tend to to do the framing and mounting for my partner’s art.”

It was through Michelle that Andy became involved with Swindon Artists’ Forum, which he has chaired for about five years.

“I used to go along to meetings and make the tea at the end!”

The forum was founded 22 years ago by a group of enthusiasts with the backing of the borough council.

Its aim now, as then, is to encourage people to create and experience art - and to buy it for their own homes and other spaces at affordable prices.

Artists - there are currently 65 in the forum - pay £15 a year for membership, which carries the right to display work at the forum’s gallery in the Brunel Centre. A tenth of sales proceeds is donated to charity.

The gallery recently moved to a new space in the centre, its biggest yet, near House of Fraser.

Andy is a committed believer in the importance of art on various levels.

“Art has been used for therapy for people with physical and mental illnesses.

“It helps us to concentrate on one subject; it helps us to get rid of our everyday worries and stresses. Instead of worrying about your stress, you can concentrate on being creative.

“You can put your feelings on paper or canvas.”

And experiencing other people’s art? “It’s time out from the rat race, to look at something else - look at somebody’s personality, their inspiration, their sweat and tears.

“A lot of people come to our art gallery, stand there, look at the pictures; it can produce a comment or it can produce a feeling. It’s not just about the commercial aspect, of selling.”

Art, whether creating it or appreciating it, can also be about strong memories, especially if the place depicted is somewhere they have moved away from or which perhaps no longer exists.

“It’s not just a photograph; it’s something that somebody has done. It’s their interpretation of what they see.”

The forum, Andy says, is important for other reasons.

“Swindon has always been marked as industrial town, a place that does not have culture and does not have soul.

“But it does have culture and it does have soul.

“It doesn’t have the spires of Oxford or the architecture of Bath, but the people themselves have their own personality and soul.

“The mission of the artists’ forum is to make art affordable for all and give artists the opportunity to display their work.

“It’s a shame that there is so much talent whose work is done and then put away in a cupboard.

“The only rules we have are that there is nothing politically motivated, nothing to cause offence and no full nudity. Apart from that, do what you want to do! It doesn’t have to conform to a size or a style.”

One member approached the forum for advice about their own speciality, digital art; their work subsequently made the transition from digital storage to physical display and several pieces have been sold.

Other pieces range from representational nature scenes to striking abstracts, and from sculpture to traditional craft.

If an artist welcomes constructive feedback from others artists, they need only ask.

Should they prefer simply to go their own way and allow their pieces to speak for themselves, their wish will be respected.

The forum’s website is, and the forum is also on Facebook.