Valerie Ganz (1936 - 2015) was born in Swansea. She attended Swansea College of Art and studied painting, sculpture and stained glass. She remained as a tutor until 1973 when she turned her attention to painting full time. As her interest in the landscape of South Wales grew, her attention was drawn to the landscape of industrial areas and, in particular, the mining industry. In 1985 she took a house and studio at Six Bells, Abertillery. For nearly a year she worked at the Six Bells Colliery, alongside the miners both above ground and at the coalface. In the evening she made studies of the miners and their families at choir practice, in the snooker halls and in the chapel. The work formed the basis of many exhibitions, in particular the mining exhibition at the Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea in 1986, "Mining in Art" with Josef Herman, Jack Crabtree and Nicholas Evans.
A year in London followed, where she set up her studio and worked everyday at the Central School of Ballet. This was to develop still further a long held interest in figurative drawing, with a subject that had interested her for many years. Since then frequent visits to the theatre, when ballet or pantomime is being presented continues this work.
In 1990 a fresh opportunity to pursue her interest in coal mining arose when she was commissioned by British Coal Opencast to study at three open cast sites in South Wales.
Jazz musicians have been a subject of her work for several years. This led in Spring 1991 to a visit to the vibrant jazz quarter of New Orleans to draw and paint. This interest continues, and she has since worked at a number of jazz festivals. In 1992 she was the official artist for the Brecon Jazz Festival and was also chosen to produce the designs for the Millennium Festival 2000.
Moscow State Circus on a visit to Wales was persuaded to allow her to work behind the scenes while performers rehearsed or waited to enter the ring. She found the age old excitement of the big top a fascinating subject and she has since followed them to many more venues around the Country.
The opening of a new drugs rehabilitation wing at Swansea Prison gave her the opportunity in 2002 to spend time in the prison drawing and painting prison life. The results of several months work were exhibited at Attic Gallery later that year.
In recent years, Valerie Ganz has returned to a subject that she had hitherto only touched on - namely etching. She has consequently built up a portfolio of etchings/aquatints.
Miners are still a part of her life and her earlier visits to Tower Colliery, the only deep mine in South Wales, form the basis for work on this subject.
Her work is in many public and private collections in the United Kingdom and worldwide including, National Museum of Wales Cardiff, Palace of Westminster London, National Assembly Cardiff, National Library of Wales Aberystwyth, Brecknock and Carmarthen Museums and the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Swansea.
Valerie Ganz contributed to the 2004 Attic Gallery exhibition - Visions of the Valleys - which featured 10 artists and their response to living in or observing the South Wales industrial valleys. In March 2015, BBC Wales broadcast a TV programme, Visions of the Valleys, which followed the same theme.
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