AN EMPTY high street unit in Malmesbury has been transformed into a vibrant community hub for creative souls.

Karen and David Drake recently moved their arts development organisation, Caerbladon, from Market Cross into the former Renew Malmesbury shop on 24 High Street.

More than a hundred visitors flocked to their opening event on Friday, March 1 to celebrate this milestone with them.

Business owners, friends and residents enjoyed a glass of bubbly, took a tour of the space and admired the breath of local talent which adored the premises' walls.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Guests enjoying the opening event at Caerbladon in Malmesbury High StreetGuests enjoying the opening event at Caerbladon in Malmesbury High Street (Image: Richard Harris)

The pair are thrilled to have expanded their business into a bigger premises and believe that there is a prevalent demand for more diverse offering in Malmesbury, especially within the arts and cultural sector.

Several shops in the town's high street - including Knees Home and Electrical, The Emporium of Loveliness and The Cake Tin - have closed over the last year due to changing consumer habits and spiralling energy bills.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Caerbladon's high street shopfront Caerbladon's high street shopfront (Image: Richard Harris)

Karen and David believe that opening more community enterprises, like Caerbladon, in these empty units will increase the footfall in the high street and will help transform it into a 'vibrant and animated town centre'.

An array of exhibitions, talks and events will be taking place in this new community hub over the next few months.

The unit also encompasses meeting rooms, art supplies and a stationery shop.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Caerbladon shop displayCaerbladon shop display (Image: Richard Harris)

The couple also have plans to open an art studio for youngsters to inspire the next generation of Wiltshire artists.

Karen and David Drake said: "This is an exciting moment for Caerbladon.

"After two successful years operating from our gallery/shop in Market Cross we finally have the larger premises on the high street that we have been working towards, thanks to Warden and Freeman.

"As a community interest company, we have mounted exhibitions and events in several venues across town, along with running the annual Flying Monk Arts Trail, the Pride of Place Malmesbury festival and two partnership projects with WOMAD.

"As well as exhibiting and selling artwork and art supplies, we will be offering a wide range of creative workshops and courses, and will establish a young person's art studio acting as a springboard for many exciting projects.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Meeting roomMeeting room (Image: David Drake)

"With the town expanding through new housing developments, and those in the surrounding villages, there's a demand for arts and cultural activities and a more diverse offer in the High Street.

"The rise in independent businesses taking on empty properties in the high street and transforming them into specialist shops and community enterprises we believe is the way forward for the town.

"We can't simply rely on the heritage attractions and we need to create a vibrant, animated town centre offering something for everyone."

The gallery is currently displaying a selection of artwork by four North Wiltshire artists for its first exhibition in the new space.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Ceramics by Jennifer RichardsonCeramics by Jennifer Richardson (Image: David Drake)

Visitors will be able to browse at carefully-crafted ceramics by Jennifer Richardson, colourful linocuts and screen prints by Katy Hutton, abstract paintings by Sandra Chin and beautiful watercolour paintings by Paul Lewis.