Local portrait artist, Aimie Sutton, has opened the first independent studio and art gallery in Merthyr Tydfil — following the success of her two-year-old online business.
‘The Art of Aimie’ officially opened its doors in early July and has been bustling ever since, bringing a new burst of colour and culture to the town centre.
It all began after a running injury, which kept Aimie off work for two weeks in 2017. Unable to leave the house, she delved back into her childhood love of art and drew pencil sketches to pass the time — later posting them online for the enjoyment of friends and family.
Following this, Aimie began to take pencil, acrylic and oil painting commissions from a dedicated Facebook page — which quickly attracted followers from across Merthyr Tydfil, the wider Valleys and beyond.
As word spread, her order-book grew, and eventually, the mother-of-three was able to become a full-time artist — requiring a permanent space for art production and display, now positioned on Glebeland Street.
The venture was made possible by support from Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and its ‘Meanwhile Scheme’ — which facilitates new enterprises to open in vacant town centre properties, for the benefit of people who live and work in Merthyr Tydfil, as well as visitors.
Support for ‘The Art of Aimie’ included legal fees, rental costs and some small-scale property works to enable trade — made possible with funding from the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns Business Fund. Tydfil Training also supported with Community Renewal Fund (CRF) funding.
Alongside her own collection of acrylic masterpieces, oil paintings, celebrity portraits and prints, Aimie also offers beautiful family, friend or pet portraits — which can be commissioned directly from her new town centre base. Customers can even have drawings printed onto t-shirts, tote-bags and mugs.
“With my business taking off online — and after seeing so many other new businesses opening successfully in Merthyr Tydfil — this summer felt like a perfect time to take the leap and open The Art of Aimie gallery.
“It has been brilliant to discover how much of an artistic community there is in Merthyr Tydfil — I’ve met so many people who have popped in to discuss their love of art and share their work with me. The support of the council has been so helpful during my journey and I feel very grateful to live in a town that places so much importance on supporting new local businesses”
The Art of Aimie also received support from the Merthyr Tydfil Enterprise Centre (MTEC) — a collaborative project between Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Tydfil Training which aids the needs of start-ups and existing businesses.
Leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Cllr Geraint Thomas, said:
“It is fantastic to see yet another new business opening in Merthyr Tydfil town centre. We want to emphasise our support for all kinds of entrepreneurs, from artists to restauranteurs — thereby diversifying the businesses that set up here and providing new offers for residents and visitors alike.
“The gallery has already made a wonderful addition to the town centre and will hopefully inspire budding entrepreneurs — or even future generations of artists — from Merthyr Tydfil.
“Through businesses like The Art of Aimie, the ‘Meanwhile Scheme’ is transforming the town centre, creating a hub of independent enterprises, and ensuring that we maintain and build upon the vibrant culture here in Merthyr Tydfil. It is terrific to see empty buildings being re-purposed for such a wide range of pursuits.”