Today, ten pieces of Cardiff-inspired art have been unveiled by FOR Cardiff
Cardiff Castle in charcoal, a city centre map embroidered with Welsh wool, and portraits of some of the best-known characters in the city are just a few of the commissions being showcased in the all-day art exhibition.
The selection of young creatives, aged 18-25, were commissioned by FOR Cardiff to develop works of art that told a story about Cardiff. In just three-weeks, ten pieces have been produced and are being revealed to the public as part of the St. David’s Day celebrations.
The creators are also being given the stage to describe their creative process, their inspiration and how the pandemic has affected their industry.
With economic output down 52% in the UK’s creative sectors, artists are among the most affected group by the current climate.
FOR Cardiff’s ‘Creatives of the Capital’ is giving the capitals young creatives an extra boost, offering free guidance and support from professionals, along with £500 to develop their pieces.
25-year-old portrait artist, Robin Bonar-Law, whose painting captures Cardiff’s most recognisable high street characters, explains:
“Living in Cardiff for the last 5 years, you walk through the streets and you come across some extraordinary characters. I’ve focused my paintings on Ninjah – still notorious now for his dreadlocks and playing the bins with drumsticks – and the late busking legend ‘Toy Mic Trev’ whose personality and performances captured the hearts of many.
Adrian Field, FOR Cardiff’s Executive Director, said: “This project has highlighted the diverse, vibrant community of young creatives we are lucky to have in our city. What better way to celebrate our spectacular Welsh heritage this St David’s Day.
“FOR Cardiff is committed to protecting and strengthening culture in Cardiff’s city centre, and our exhibition allows people to experience Cardiff-inspired art in all different forms, including dance, textile, song, illustration and graphic design, from the comfort of their homes.”
FOR Cardiff is also making plans to display the pieces in art across the city, ready for people to enjoy in person as restrictions ease. The ten commissioned pieces are being unveiled across the day.
More information can be found by visiting FOR Cardiff’s website: https://www.forcardiff.com/events/st-davids-day-art-exhibition/
Ten commissioned artists (in their own words)
Eleanor Rose Sykes
Eleanor is an illustrator currently working towards her BA in Cardiff School of Art and Design, within Cardiff Metropolitan University. Her work uses colour and absurdity to capture the way in which she interprets the world. She comments on the mundanity of life in an imaginative way, bringing initial realistic studies forward into a slightly more obscure, interesting and curious world. Alongside visual journals she documents through larger paintings which are textural and colourful expressions of a desire to play and they capture the world through the lens of a childlike idiosyncrasy.
Originally Texas born, Amarie grew up in Cardiff. She’s 17 and currently doing my A levels. She loves to paint, specifically though, large funky portraits and self-portraits. Currently, she is working on a large self-portrait (painted with acrylic onto board) which is almost finished.
Andrea Pallarés Renaud
Andrea (@siestaisfiesta) is an animator and multi-media artist from Spain now enjoying life in Wales. She hopes to show her playful ideas through her projects, using vibrant colour palettes, simplicity and hand-drawn elements. She’s a fan of minimalist design, point & click games, all kinds of films, anything provocative and traveling.
Becky Johnson is a freelance dance artist who specialises in improvisation, collaboration, and inter-disciplinary work. Recent collaborations have been with cinematographer Sam Olly in “The Hanging room trilogy” (2019) and visual artist Anna Coviello in “EXHIBIT” (2019-20). She also recently held a residency with Groundwork pro to explore her latest solo work, “Didi’s Cookbook” (2020) in which she worked alongside Director Julia Spencer to create a short film for the work. She also facilitates inclusive community classes and workshops for a range ages, abilities, and disabilities.
Ophelia Dos Santos
Ophelia is a Welsh textile designer based in Cardiff. Specialising in hand embroidery, she refreshes and repairs preloved clothing. Through embroidery, she expresses herself by using simple stitches, carefully placed, to create images and patterns on garments (establishing an embroidered patchwork style). Her contemporary style pays attention to surface, texture and colour, whilst combining traditional and modern techniques. Through her projects, she hopes to inspire environmental and social change – by encouraging people to think about how they buy, re-use and throw away fashion.
Cardiff based landscape artist, Emma, is inspired by Welsh views and the contrasting textures within them. She creates richly textured charcoal and pastel drawings and oil paintings. In this drawing of Cardiff Castle’s Keep, she has gouged, scraped, crushed and torn the paper to build texture, using etching tools and my hands. For St. David’s Day, she wants to celebrate how proud and fierce Welsh people are. She has picked what she feels is the fiercest landmark in Cardiff, for it was the building blocks of the city and is the heart of Cardiff.
Olivia is a 21-year-old artist that has grown up and lived in Cardiff her entire life. Art has been her passion since she can remember. Her studies at school opened her to the world of surrealism and abstract expressionism where she began to discover artists that would influence her work to this day; Frida Kahlo, Hilma af Klint and René Magritte. The principles of these movements led her on a journey of studying the concepts of automatism and the ideas of emotional creation, which remains a key factor in many of her works.
Amber India Howells (she/her)
Amber is a 21-year-old dance artist, performer and teacher from Cardiff. Classically trained in ballet, she joined Rubicon Dance at 16, where she trained full time before studying her degree at Northern School of Contemporary Dance. In the past she has worked with Krystal S. Lowe, Instant Dissidence, Lea Anderson MBE, Wayne Parsons, The Hiccup Project, Caroline Finn, Fernanda Prata, and Ewan Jones for Netflix’s Sex Education. She has also co-founded a physical theatre company ‘Yoodaloo’, combining environmental activism and performance.
“The past 12 months have been a rollercoaster. I had a fantastic job lined up in Europe which had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 and Brexit. But Cardiff has a tight-knit network of creatives; we look out for each other and offer up our support through these difficult times.
“To me, Womanby Street is Cardiff’s cultural hub. The independent music venues have helped many kickstart their music careers and given young people the opportunity to experience live music in an inexpensive and accessible way.”
Robin grew up in Italy and trained in Graphic Design at Falmouth University. He just enjoys making marks and problem solving. He explains: “Life’s tough, rent’s expensive, work pays, and art rarely does, but you got to do what you got to do. Art makes life beautiful.”
Robert William Nichols (Junior Bill)
Rob Nichols is the singer, songwriter and bandleader of local band Junior Bill. His narrative-led song writing focuses on people, place and the friction between different social worlds. His songs honour forgotten people making sense of confusing times and living in ever-changing urban lands, painting vivid pictures of his home city of Cardiff. Robert says: “My song explores the roles different people play in the formation of the city centre’s culture, including the role of ‘outsiders’ in the city. I also look into what’s in store for Cardiff’s culture scene in a post-pandemic world.”