madeinroath Blog

Postbox tree

Day 5 of the blog advert.

I feel like writing about something a little abstract today.

During this years festival I passed this Red post box on the way to somewhere. I’d never noticed it before. It lies on the street just opposite Roath Park pleasure gardens, about half way down the road. It struck me as a very defiant postbox battling an over intrusive tree. 
 I was in a rush but I felt compelled to stop and take this picture which I then totally forgot about until now when I came across it while looking for another photograph in an album.

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The tree appears to be slowly eating the postbox, possible for vengeance of the amount of paper letters (e.g former tree’s) that have passed through the box over the years. It could possibly be seen as a metaphor of the slow disappearance of paper and general use of the post as nature takes over or possibly it was just an ill choice in terms of locations for a postbox. Who knows? I just like it.

It also reminds me of an ancient Persian story I once heard. The tale goes that a wiseman attempted to find a phrase that was suitable for any situation. After much thought and debate he adventurually come up with the adage “This too shall pass” a phrase that could be used anytime or anywhere. It’s also one I think applies to what I do as a blogger as well as the temporary nature of social media and the digital environment.

All these thoughts emerged from a momentary halt, half way down a street in Roath whilst on the way to somewhere else. That’s what I really like about Made in Roath, it creates this open mindset which strengthens the creative thought. The environment of so much art happening in one week increases your own creativity. It reminds me of the story of the three princes serendipity. In the tale, three princes from Serndip travel through a land and through utilising a mixture of deduction (in proper Sherlock Holmes fashion) and good luck succeed in many adventures. It’s one of the worlds first detective stories. It is also where we get the word Serendipity from because the Princes were looking for good fortune and adventure and they found it. Much like during the festival, you’re looking for culture and art so are more readily able to discover it in the most unlikely of places.

Community chess

Behind door 4 of the Made in Roath advent we have a short blog post on the amazing world of community chess.

This year’s Made in Roath festival saw the popular return of Community Chess outside the Penylan Library. Run by the amazing Jack Nicol, community chess is basically what the words suggests. Games of chess in the community, free and open to anyone regardless of age, ability or skill all are welcome to try. It can be played with friends, family or complete strangers. I’m not sure if anyone walking past Penylan library were challenged, in an over dramatically duel style fashion, to a game of community chess but I like to think so.

Chess has been called the world greatest game, it involves strategy, thought and creativity to use each piece to win. Chess is an infinity game. There are over 400 different positions after each players made their first move. There are 72,084 positions after two moves apiece, 9 million plus positions after three moves and up to 288 billion different possible positions after the fourth move. No two games of chess can ever be the same.

Chess is a fantastically exciting game and it was brilliant to see it being played on the streets of Roath. It’s a game which has an air of intelligence about it but in truth Chess is such a simple game anyone can and should play it. Chess is a game that appears throughout history in the halls of the kings to the gutters of slums. It’s one that enlightens the intellect and changes the soul.

This year saw a series of games being played on the last Sunday of the festival. At first people stopped, confused by the sight of a series of small tables and chairs set up with chess boards on but once the concept had sunk in the games began. Some lasting minuets others lasting hours. The traditional silence of the library was matched with the silence of the chess games.

Its always a delight to see street chess games, its something that is common in other cultures but not so much here. Its always great to see in Roath and its always a sight that makes me want to play more chess.

 

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The Old Laundry

Behind door 3 of the Made in Roath advent we have the Old Laundry.

Made in Roath has a proud and exciting history of taking over spaces kindly donated to us for the festival. Last year we used the grand building of the Parade and until recently were installed in Welcome House. This year we were delighted to have the Old Laundry on Braveal street for an exhibition space for use during the October festival.

The Old Laundry was a unique space. A hidden gem that having walked the earth of Roath for many years, I must confess I had no knowledge existed.

 The entrance I discovered with sound. It was a windy day in Braveal street and a rustling sound was heard which increased in volume as I ventured past the terrace houses of the road. Then suddenly between two homes a small alleyway appeared. A red brick opening leading down an uneven, cracked path of stone. Across this opening a line of shiny tinsel paper was hung, gently blowing and whispering in the breeze. Passing through this paper door the alleyway opened up to a workman style yard with a square building of industrial purpose along the right hand side. To the left were a collection of old stables which indicated the age of this Victorian build.

Here was a place that had seen history, horse drawn carts and carriages walked these stones when first it was built. Then motorcars and petrol transport rumbled in and out, people worked, lived and spent their lives here. Jokes, friendships and memories were forged. This was a place that had seen life and now for the week of Made in Roath 2017 it was to see art.

The temporary exhibition space was divided into two parts. On the ground floor in the wide open garage like space. A group show of a collection of artists who responded and created work around Roath Park with a mixture of sensory, sound, visual and hanging work. Each artist had produced a thoughtful and fascinating piece that sat comfortably in this former white walled workshop.

Upstairs in the former office space the decor was different, down stairs it had been industrial and practical. Here it was modern, a more business like place with walls and carpet of the style which could be anywhere between the 70s and late 00s in plain, calm, practical agency fashion. Individual artists had space here, each room was dedicated to their practise. Each unit off the L-shaped corridor found a different exhibition. Fascinating and individual to each persons expression of practise. Your mind jumped from one thought to the next as you moved along the compartments. The archive work of one, the visual projection of another, the incurable curious sound work of the next. The building hummed with delight as you wondered through this former Laundry complex.

Then when all the work had been seen you left, back down the narrow red brick alleyway and back out into the streets of Roath where cars passed and life went on with no hint of the art work which lay behind Braveal street. Apart from the slight rustling noise, which slowly faded as you walked away re-entering the world.

Artists displaying in the Old Laundry space included Sharon Magill, Helen C.A. Rowlands, Nick Davies, Gemma Bartlett, Maria D. Rus, Jessica Greenway, Ceri Morris, Anna Brazier, Christine Magill, Olivia Day, Claire Davies, Thomas Bartlett, Alexandra Andreica, Kyle Povey, Jill Kirkpatrick, Lindsey Hadley, Jill Adams, Ian Watson, Beth Morris, Lynette Margerison, Zena Blackwell, Tanya Dower, Reid Allen, Laura Welsman.

Congregation, Made in Roath 2017

Behind day 2 of our recap blog posts of the year we find Congregation. The official launch party of this years festival which took place on Sunday the 15th in the Inkspot art space.

Organised by the brilliant and hugely talented Gareth Llewelyn Thomas it was a night of music, light and art. 
 The upstairs hall of Inkspot was transformed into a venue ideal for the expression of harmony through sound. The community banners of Roath from “By my side, come rain or shine” hung from the rafters of the hall as below them, one long table spread out from the stage reaching to the end of the hall. Gathered around the table people spoke, laughed and listened as the musicians began.

Performing that night we had an eclectic mix of music makers, Atomic Supermna, Nevsky Perspective, Saccharyn, Nia Ann and the Irascibles. All performed spectacularly adding their own unique sound to the night.

The atmosphere was warm and good natured as people enjoyed the music, chatted to old friends and made new ones. The audience reflected the wide ranging and diverse congregation of the Made in Roath festival. All sorts of people from all over South Wales and further afield sat breathing in the festival opening. Proving once again that while Made in Roath is based in Roath it attracts people from everywhere.

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Open Houes 2017

Happy 1st of December one and all, I excitedly awoke this morning and ran downstairs to open a tiny door with a number 1 written on it. A ritual I’ll perform everyday between now and the 24th of December.

I read that the tradition of advent calendars originated in mid-19th century Germany when Protestants made chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count down the days to Christmas. It’s at this time of year that I like to look back on the year and oh dear sleepless me, it has been quite a busy year for Made in Roath. Starting off with the night walk in January, Red Route in May and the festival in October. Not to mention a whole host of other events.

I thought it’d be fun to spend the next 24 days posting recap blogs on stuff we have been doing throughout the year (yes, I have a strange definition of “fun”). So lets begin with the festival itself, back in October when we had over 200 different happenings taking place all in one week.

One aspect that will always remain fondly in my memory will be this years Open Houses. There is something quite exciting about venturing into a strangers home, not quite sure what you’ll find. Part of you feels like you shouldn't be there, that every inch of your British up bring of not making eye contact, always saying “bless you” when someone sneezes and never, ever, speaking to someone on public transport is urging you to turn and flee.

Once you make it through the door and into the home and once you have doubled, tripled and quadruple check the event brochure and house number to make absolute sure you are in the right place and haven't accidentally wandered into the wrong house you are greeted by wonder.

In every Open House I visited this year I discovered Wonder. Wonder in different ways and in different formats but wonder nonetheless. It was the wonder in an old school victorian photography studio in one kitchen. Wonder in finding the Kickplate projects hanging snow covered landscape in a front room. Wonder in the student house with the watercolour paintings on the stairs, the corner shop with an artist painting portraits, the house with the biggest hallway I’ve ever seen displaying a fine collection of pottery, my list is endless. At every venue something amazing was there to see.

I also noticed a common thread amongst which ran through each Open House; the fantastic spirt of the community and the willingness and good nature of people to open up their homes this year (and for the last nine years) to show art. To turn their homes into an art gallery for the week.

I am reminded by the inscription adorning Christopher Wren’s epitaph “not for profit but for the public good. Reader, if you seek monument – look around you.”

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Guest Post: Oh What a Studious Summer!

By guest blogger Hannah Pickering.

Hannah was a student at the Cardiff Metropolitan University Widening Access Summer School and was invited to take part in the Widening Access Exhibition at this year’s festival.  We have invited Hannah to write a number of blog posts about her experience at the WA Summer School and the events she took part in and attended during the festival.

Oh What a Studious Summer!

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Photos of me and my fellow students painting in our ‘Arty Party!’ course

You might say, that a summer can’t be studious, because you’re supposed to be resting, exploring, having fun and getting to know people better. However, since having studied a BA Degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, I have been finding it difficult to get work long term, or at all within the Creative Industries and I would like to use my skills as more than just a hobby. So being able to be a part of these Widening Access Summer School courses at Cardiff Metropolitan University, for free, has been a real privilege for me to attend. I would recommend to people from all walks of life, even if you’ve never done any of the subjects properly before, they have a range of courses you can choose from.

I attended the ‘Arty Party!’ course, which was about helping us learn how to put paint brush to canvas, with acrylic artwork, tools and skills. This was a two day course. My Photos above, are of these classes, the bottom photos are of me Painting the ‘It’s A Starry Night,’ work by Vincent Van Gogh. As it is an all-time favorite of mine and I have been longing to paint it for a while. This took me most of the first day to complete. Then I completed the finishing touches the second day. We were given a collection of artworks to choose from, this is what I chose.

Attending the Summer School art courses is as much a good chance to build up your creative portfolio, and maybe to learn a new skill, as it is to socialise and make new friends. It’s fun to meet others who have a similar interest in this field, yet possibly have different points of view on it all, use different artistic mediums, and have different skills and knowledge to share.

Here is some of my work:

Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘A Starry Night’
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Pencil Sketch | Painting in Progress | The Final Painting
My first attempt at painting my Nanna’s portrait

This is the work I completed on the course, I am now working on a new version of this painting.

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Pencil Sketch | Sketch with Picture Reference | The Final Painting

The other class I attended was How to Construct your Art & Design Portfolio’, which was run jointly with madeinroath and the Summer School. It was really cool to be able to see how we each presented our ideas to the world. We learnt about new ways to help present your artwork in a way that can help you sell or bring new interest to your work, for other people and companies. I didn’t produce anything in this, but I gained some new insight into how to do as I have said above.

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, and will hopefully be going back next year. I would recommend them to anyone from ages 16 plus, whether you have done a degree or not and if you are looking for work or not.

Also, who would have thought that it would lead me to have my very first piece of artwork in an exhibition? Which is my very first painting in my series of ‘Places in Cardiff and to be able to take part in the madeinroath Festival 2017. It was totally unexpected!

So thanks to madeinroath for giving me the opportunity to gain experience by exhibiting my artwork, writing for their blog and contribute to the festival’s social media documentation. Also, huge appreciative thanks to Cardiff Metropolitan University for the opportunity to do free art courses at the Widening Access Summer School.

Guest Post: Ekphrastic Challenge Poetry Competition Winner

The judges have deliberated, and the winner of Made in Roath’s Ekphrastic Challenge Poetry Competition has been chosen. Congratulations go to Jill Berrett for her poem ‘A Semi-detached Corner’ which was inspired by a painting entitled ‘No Place Like Roath’ by Robert Vokes (displayed in the Made in Roath Open exhibition).

A Semi-detached Corner

Here in my autumn years I visit this cul de sac of semi’s,
searching for you beside the sashes of the upstairs bay.
Are you hiding, or lying on the narrow bed, dreaming of sea
colours, teal and turquoise, uneven patterns with wavy lines?

Or are you curled up downstairs enfolded by the winged armchair
reading Kollontai’s Love of Worker Bees? Can you see out
to the bare tree, no birds singing, no leaves fallen on to the
empty pavement, neither people nor animals pass you by.

Neatness is everything in this quiet corner, nothing allowed
to grow out of shape, even the greenery can have no
individuality. Although what would your mother have said to
next door’s privet, leaning, as though in need of company?

Low brickwork walls still keep boundaries, held upright
by determination more than mortar, perfectly capped,
as I prepare to release my storm. I travelled a long way west
to capture it, carried it inside myself across oceans,

gathering along the way all that was caught in its draught. I lean
back, my face to the sky, my mouth issues a long cry and my
bloated body releases its hurricane. Windows shake, trees
shudder in anticipation, branches shake with delight, bushes

bow and sigh. In its wake fly painted ladies, silver striped moths,
seeds drop, swallows swoop, warblers and wagtails pause in their
migration, a new colonisation begins. Sashes give way and walls crumble.
I shout  ‘Run’, the door flies open, and I go forward to catch you.

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The judges only had a few hours in which to make their decision. This is what they said…

“The imagery is visceral, dreamlike yet realistic. The poem almost acts as a juxtaposition to the image itself but because of the quality of the descriptions and adjectives employed, the poem fits perfectly. I feel that it would be a great poem for an anthology on the seasons but it stands alone well, too. A strong aspect of the poem is how it also can compare to today's climate of violence and aggression in certain news stories when the writer has written about elements of the weather.”

(from Rhys Milsom)

“I find the pace to be perfect, the subject matter well considered, the imagery both interesting and original. I love the image of the privet, for example, “leaning, as though in need of company”. I love, too, the balance between loss and lusciousness in this poem - the ‘I’ of the piece is missing someone, yet still the scene is full of flora and fauna, the elements as well as burgeoning new life. The beauty and fragility of life is captured beautifully in a piece that is precise and poignant in its rendering. A very worthy winner indeed.”

(from Mab Jones)

A Single Tree: a Christmas tale gone wrong

We have asked Made in Roath friend and regular to the festival Olga Gimenez Traver to review a performance she attended.  She very kindly reviewed "A Single Tree: A Christmas Tale Gone Wrong".

A SINGLE TREE: A CHRISTMAS TALE GONE WRONG

 It was very nice show.

We sat in chairs at the beginning of the show as the actors decorated us with Christmas decorations.
A guy asked us if we wanted turkey, chicken or beef (those traditional Christmas meals).
The story is about a couple celebrating their first year of living together. They decide to invite people who would otherwise be on their own to celebrate with them. They were joined at their Christmas meal by their sisters, the man's ex girlfriend and a male friend of the woman. 
During the course of the celebration they play traditional party games like charades and freeze but in a different way.
These are stereotypical characters, very funny and very well presented.
I was most impressed by the fact that even though all the actors were often in the same scene while two were talking the others managed the difficult trick of remaining quiet but still adding to the scene with their actions without distracting from the dialogue.  
I don't want to spoilt the end but it is well worth seeing to find out how it's finishes.
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"A Single Tree: a Christmas tale gone wrong" was created and performed by the Hoovering Flour Theatre Company.  Their dark comedy was seen at Nofitstate on Sunday the 15th October.

By My Side, Come Rain or Shine

The wind blew gently through the park. Recently fallen autumn leaves, crisp, crumpled and yellowing on the floor found themselves scattered far from their original tree as they began their journeys of flight around Roath.

Also scattered around Roath Park on that bright Sunday were people busying themselves with their daily activities. Kids were playing football in one corner, a guy practised his golf swing in another. Dog walkers and runners proceeded on their endless laps of the parkland. There was no sense of the urgency that normally haunts a day in the city.

 Then from one street a flag is seen to approach. It blows gently in the wind. Inviting looks of curiosity and wonder as it crosses the park. The flag stops. It is red in colour. The pole it is attached to carried determinedly by a person. This person see’s the light change as the flag swims in the sun. They can see the ever growing shadow, stretching out from their flag across the green grass of the park.

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 The flag stand alone. But not for long. Soon more flags approach the park. Coming from different directions they all head towards the original red flag. The flags of Roath have been summoned. Now they gather to flutter and fly in the air of Roath. Their time has come.

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   What am I talking about? Well, it’s very simple. I am merely describing the situation on Sunday the 15th of October as the flags from the Made in Roath project “By my side, come rain or shine” gathered for a walk through the streets.

  The flags are part of a project MiR has been running with artists Pip Tudor and James Cocks. Together they have been working with different community groups over the last few months to create these brightly coloured wonders. They also made a collection of postcards which can currently be seen on the railings of the Macintosh sport centre.

 Back in the park and soon people began to gather, representatives from each community group proudly claiming their banner. The groups coming together were from the wide ranging communities of Roath and wider. They were the Trinity Centre, TAVS, Journeys, Vision Twenty One, Tradgerville Primary, Roath Park Primary, Albany Primary, Cardiff High, St Teilo's C/W High school and The Trebanog Project.

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When all were assembled drums and shakers started to sing an unknown tune and we began to march. Drawing looks and questions from passers by at this unusual sight. The flags reaching high above the walking procession, a procession of a community coming together under the flag of creativity. The untamed tune playing out drowning the noise of passing traffic.

  The walk took us through the streets of Roath on a winding path. We halted at cultural stopping off points along the way. At one point we stopped at the wall of Juno Lounge to see Paddy Faulkner "Passchendaele" on the outside wall. The work marks the anniversary of the battle with the text of little known war poet Alfred Noyes and combines a digital image. Paddy spoke with great passion and elegance about the meaning of the work and inspiration behind it. I myself found my thoughts dwelling on that terrible conflict and the advancement of 100 years of time. 

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Later we moved off down the street to enjoy more spoken word, music and other delights. We also halted at the Mackintosh Community Garden for a brief tea stop before moving on to Inkspot.

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 As we entered the grand old church we discovered a long table set before us, food was served and we sat and ate, chatting about the day and ourselves. As we spoke the flags from the walk proudly fluttered above us.

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Morning of Day one

Sunday the 15th of October 2017 was a Sunday as normal as any other to countless many. In fact I am sure that Sunday the 15th of October 2017 will go by unnoticed and mostly unremarked upon by the majority of planet Earth’s citizens.

The citizens of Roath and Cardiff on the other hand may remember it differently. Because Sunday the 15th of October saw the start of Made in Roath 2017. The week long community arts festival which has over 200 different events, exhibitions and happenings occurring all crammed into seven'ish days. Sunday saw the start of many of these things. The day was thankfully bright and clear, the perfect October Sunday with crunchy leaves under foot.

There is art all around Roath, the festival map is packed with stuff almost on every street. On the first day I found myself wandering into the Roath Park greenhouse to see Philippa Brown’s “a curious nature” installation. Her installation, a colourful object interacting and floating on the warm water as its exotic surroundings carry on their days around it. The object was at home but still out of place, like an unknown intruder from a foreign world nestling in a far flung jungle.

Phi Brown 2017

I proceed through the park, happening upon artist Cerys Thomas-Ford collecting stories and thoughts with her “Not from around here (journeys)” project. She was spending the first two days of the festival collecting tales about the area. Being a newcomer to Roath from the far flung land of “Swansea” (See Google earth). Cerys was inviting people to share with her their favourite stories about the area, she plans to write these up and turn them into an exhibition which will be seen on Ninian Road from Friday to Sunday (11am-5pm). 
 We shared a coffee and a brief walk around the park chatting about the interactions she’d had that day. Stopping at the white park bridge we attempted a game of pooh sticks.

Cerys Thomas 2017

Later on in the day I found myself outside Punk Bikes looking at photographer Mehdi Razi's work. “Cardiff in Detail” is a collection of photographs from around Cardiff. Mehdi had spent weeks walking the streets of Cardiff using his phone to photograph points of the city he found interesting. This has made for an interesting and thought provoking display showcasing another person’s view of our favourite Welsh capital city.

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But this was just the start, just three events in the jam packed calendar.