THE decision to close libraries across the UK over the last decade has been "violent and vile, the artist Edmund de Waal has told the Guardian.

The leading artist, who has recently opened his own temporary library at the British Museum in London, criticised local authorities for making the "heartbreaking" decision to shut institutions down.

His comments come as Hamsphire County Council is currently proposing to close ten libraries across the county, including three in the Gazette's patch.

This newspaper launched its campaign - Save Our Libraries - in January in reaction to the news. To date, this paper has been inundated by calls from members of the public who believe passionately that Chineham, Odiham and South Ham libraries should remain open.

In his exhibiton, De Waal has created an installation titled library of exile, which contains 2,000 books by exiled writers from Ovid and Tacitus to TS Eliot and Judith Kerr.

It was partly inspired by the “toxic environment” refugees have faced over the last 10 years, after De Waal looked at his bookshelf and realised he was surrounded by books written by people in exile.

Speaking to the Guardian, De Waal said: “If you think about the violence that has been wreaked on our social fabric over the last 10 years, the closure of libraries has been violent and vile,” De Waal said.

He added: “There are very few spaces where kids can go to be silent and quiet and read books and discover things. The idea that there are 20% fewer libraries open now than there were 10 years ago is absolutely disgraceful.

“We should not be a society that closes libraries. It is absolutely heartbreaking."

The artist's comments follow the passionately-worded letter by author Neil Gaiman who is leading a protest against Hampshire's proposed library cuts.

Local authors including Neil Gaiman – who grew up in Hampshire and has a road named after him in Portsmouth – Philip Hoare, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Ali Sparkes and Claire Fuller wrote to the council to “reverse this shameful decision”.

Hampshire County Council currently runs 48 libraries and supports a further four community-managed branches.

It claims it is facing an anticipated budget shortfall of £80m by April 2021, and must cut £1.76m from its library budget.

To this end, it is consulting on proposals that include closing up to 14 libraries or reducing opening hours across the board.