HAMPSHIRE artists and artisans are getting their work into the public eye by opening their own venue.

A not for profit contemporary art and craft gallery called Rum's Eg is set to open in Romsey, which has been set up and largely financed by artists and makers from across the county.

It will feature a large gallery, cafe and workshop allowing professionals and amateurs to showcase and sell their work and more than 100 artists and makers have expressed interest in exhibiting.

Siriol Sherlock, a watercolour artist from East Wellow, announced her scheme back in April, and following months of discussions and organisation, the Hampshire Art and Craft CIC (Community Interest Company) was formed and a lease has now been agreed.

The venue, the former Volumes book shop, in Bell Street, has been vacant for the last four years.

Now the race is on to get the ground floor ready for a Christmas exhibition from December 6 to December 22, which will give people a taste of what is to come - it will then close to continue the rest of the refurbishment before its official opening early next year.

There are plans for an upstairs cafe, which should be open by February.

Rum's Eg, which comes from a simplified form of the Old English name for Romsey, will feature a wide scope of work, including paintings, sculpture, jewellery, textile art, glassware, ceramics, prints, woodwork and cards at a range of prices.

The second floor will be an art studio, for internally and externally-run workshops and courses for all age groups.

Gallery displays will change every two months.

Artists and artisans can make their bid for a spot in the gallery at selection sessions, which will be held twice a year and judged by a panel of experts.

The idea is the shop is self-funding through sales of the art and craft and the cafe - it will get a commission from the sale.

But the scheme has got off the ground thanks to £30,000 pledged in loans from around 30 patrons who are either Hampshire artists and crafts people or local supporters, though the company is waiting on a number of funding applications.

The gallery will be manned by a mixture of paid staff and volunteers and overseen by Hampshire Art and Craft CIC's committee.

A community interest company is not for profit so Rum's Eg will aim to support local charities and community projects, for example subsidising courses taught by their artists and craftsmen, both in Rum's Eg and elsewhere.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for artists in Hampshire particularly some haven't had the chance to showcase their work before,” said Siriol, co-director of the enterprise.

She stressed that, in order for this to work, the community had to support it through purchasing the pieces.