madeinroath Blog

Countdown begins

Made in Roath 2017 is fast approaching. The festival this year kicks off on the 15th of October and runs until the 22nd. We’ll have the usual seven days of art, poetry, stage, film, photography, workshops, unexpected street chess, random flag parades and loads, loads more filling the streets and homes of Roath.

The theme of this years festival is “When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence”. This is a global comment on the state of the world and a reflection on how lucky we are to live where we do in such a rich, warm, welcoming, creative community.

We see examples of this goodness every year when we put on the festival. Made in Roath couldn't happen without the generosity and kindness people show in helping, running or volunteering their time or space for the festival. The perfect example of this is in ‘Open Houses’. The fact that people open up their homes, turning them into art galleries for the enjoyment of others is the personification of this philanthropy.

We see it too in the creativity. It is always amazing to see the brilliantly creative, imaginative and inventive projects that are submitted to us. It’s fantastic to see these submissions come to life and jump from the page into reality for the seven days of the festival.


There will be tonnes going on each day. We'll be holding a special pre-festival event on Saturday the 14th in the Gate Art centre as Wonderbrass celebrates 25 years of music making. Then on Sunday the 15th we are especially thrilled to be launching this years festival with a special parade through Roath. “By my side, Come rain or shine” is a project designed to celebrate the diverse communities, locations, friends and families that make Roath a very special place to be.

Our CREATE coordinator Pip Tudor has been working with artist James Cocks and community groups over the last seven months, to make a series of postcards and flags representing each group. We’ll be walking these flags through Roath finishing at the Inkspot Arts space with Congregation, an evening of music, entertainment and refreshments.

We’ll be posting a new blog post featuring a certain aspect of the festival over the next few days but if you can’t wait then do check out the online brochure. 

As always thanks for reading, see you in Roath.

Volunteering with madeinroath

You know a lot of the best things that I’ve done have come from volunteering.

My two present jobs, for example, as well as a previous job as intern in a gallery all came via volunteering. I’ve made some great friends, heard, seen and created quite a few amusing memories and got to drink countless cups of free tea (WINNER, I know)

The point I’m trying to make is that volunteering is great, especially if you like tea. Even if you don't like tea then its still pretty great. Nearly everyone at Made in Roath or any art gallery, museum or cultural body started out as a volunteer. The experience you get, the friends you make and the free cups of tea (I mean it’s not all about the tea, there are other drinks apart from tea. I just don't wish to acknowledge them) make it a worthwhile endeavour.

madeinroath kiosk

Speaking from my own experience, I went to art school and graduated with a degree and then discovered I didn’t actually know anything (yep I did a John Snow “I know nothing”). I mean I knew how to make art but not how the art world worked. I didn’t know how to approach a gallery or even where to start with showing work. Short of stapling examples of my work to the walls of galleries in the hope that someone would look at it I was a bit stumped. I looked around at my friends who were also searching their heads. Away from the supportive art school environment, we were all a bit lost.

It was then that I started to volunteer. I began to help out in a gallery, where I discovered like-minded people who were also going through or had gone through a similar experience. More importantly, I started to find out how things worked; how to put up shows, how to market and about the art world in general, not to mention all the tea I could drink mwahaha. Anyway, it wasn’t just about the tea. Fast forward a few years and I would never be in the place I am today if I hadn’t given up a few hours of my time to volunteer. If I’d never begun volunteering with Made in Roath I certainly wouldn’t be here typing this now.


Everyone at Made in Roath is a volunteer in one way or other. None of this would happen without volunteers. Most of our coordinators started off as volunteers before falling deeper down the rabbit hole that is Made in Roath. It’s a fantastic and enjoyable experience and one which you can read all about on our awesome volunteer page. You can be a team leader, exhibition or event assistants, help out with media and documentation or assist with a workshop (which is ideal if you like making things and getting messy). 

 Volunteering is not a one-way street. In return for your precious time, we offer a wide range of thank you’s such as one-to-one portfolio workshops, references for your CV, lunch and an after festival volunteer pub quiz.

The person in charge of all this is our volunteer coordinator, the wonderful Georgina Allen who has also planned an evening of skittle fun in the Albany pub tomorrow as a welcome to anyone thinking of volunteering with us. If you can, do join us for an amusing evening of skittle related fun.

If you can't come along but are interested or you have any questions then please do email Georgina at

Thanks for reading, best wishes and may your teas be always free.

How does Made in Roath work?

It’s a good question and one I’m not too sure I can answer. I’m not sure anyone can answer it actually. I’m not sure anyone knows how Made in Roath works, it just does.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of leadership books (for reasons which really don’t need going into right now) and in doing so I’ve come to realise that Made in Roath shouldn’t actually work.

According to most business models Made in Roath shouldn't happen, yet it does. It’s happening in 13 days, for the 9th time since it first happened in 2009. So why is this? Why is it that Made in Roath, like nearly every other art and cultural organisation in the country, is still going when according to the traditional business models it shouldn’t? The obvious answer is Made in Roath and all these other arts organisations are not businesses and are therefore not operating under the same requirements and outcomes.

But there is something more than that at work here. There is a reason why people spend all day in work and then come along to give four or five hours of tireless volunteering at an evening event. Why coordinators spend hour upon hour of their free time dealing with stressful and vexing situations determined to make an event happen. It is the same reason why people stay up until the wee small hours of the morning writing, painting or creating something that only a handful of people will see, even though they have to be in work in a few hours.


This reason is very simple to explain. It is also the same reason why you have heard of the Wright Brothers but have never heard of Samuel Pierpont Langley.

The turn of the century race for powered flight was the .com boom of its day. It seemed that everyone was chasing the dream of flight, as well as the fame and wealth that went along with it. The smart money was on Samuel Pierpont Langley. He was the US government sponsored inventor. A professor of engineering and a well respected scientist. He was also given a very generous payment from the US government to develop his ideas. He used this to design, experiment and hire all the best people to help him. The New York times even sent a reporter to follow Langley around so confident were they that he would be the first.

Yet it was the Wright brothers, neither of whom had a college degree, who self funded their experiments and were based in a windswept, out of the way sandy island called Kittyhawk that didn’t even have a pub let alone any scientific/educational establishments that were the first to fly. On the 17th of December 1903 they flew for 59 seconds, covering a distance of 852 feet.

So what gave the Wright brothers their advantage? Put simply it was belief.

Samuel Pierpont Langley was in it for the fame, for the wealth. That as soon as Langley learnt he had been beaten he gave up on his efforts is proof of this. He didn’t use his funds, resources and knowledge to work with the Wright brothers, he just quit. The Wright brothers on the other hand were in it for the betterment of the world. They believed that what they were doing was important. They believed. And thats what drove them to do it.

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It’s this belief that powers us to try, to make, to fly. No one is an artist or a maker for the money. You do it because you believe it in. Made in Roath and all these other cultural bodies work because of belief. Because we believe in what we are doing. Culture happens because people believe in creating it, they believe its important to show it, to spend their nights going to see it. They believe its important to think, to read, to consider. Culture happens because of belief. We give time, and often our sleep or social lives, to Made in Roath because we believe it’s important that it happens.

This is why we are thrilled to see it happen again, for the ninth time, from October the 15th to the 22nd. There is also a special preview event at the Gate on the 14th with the fantastic Wonderbrass. You can pick up a brochure of whats going on in multiple places around Roath or simply check out the online version.

Thanks for reading.

Are You Ready For A Challenge?

Guest Blogger - Rachel Carney

If you like art, writing and ideas then the Ekphrastic Challenge Poetry Competition is for you! ‘Ekphrastic poetry’ is poetry which has been written in response to a piece of visual art. It can be descriptive, interpretive or provocative. It can create alternative perspectives and play with the readers' expectations. It can question the artist’s intentions, the point of art itself, or its own existence, creating a conversation between artist, writer, reader and viewer.

To take part, all you have to do is get out and about during the Made in Roath festival, and have a look at the artwork on display. Find something interesting… one of the paintings featured in the Open exhibition perhaps, or something a bit more quirky in one of the open house displays… and take a photo of it. So long as it’s visual, displayed as part of Made in Roath and created by an artist, it will count.

Then you will have just a few days to write a poem in response. Send your poem (along with a photo of whichever artwork you wrote about) to me (Rachel Carney) via email by 5pm on Friday 20th October. Please include your name, email and phone number, plus information about the artwork (artist’s name, title of piece, where you saw it).

From Paint to Page Ekphrastic Writing Group

The poems will be judged by local writers Mab Jones and Rhys Milsom, and they’ll announce the winner on Sunday 22nd – the last day of the festival. The winning poem will be published right here, on the Made in Roath blog, and displayed for a short time at the ‘Three Doors Up’ art space in Queen’s Arcade (part of Arcade Cardiff). The winner will also receive a £15 book token and a fascinating book on world art, purchased from Cardiff’s very own Aladdin’s Cave (aka Troutmark Books).

You could also come along to The Gate on Tuesday 17th October, where I’ll be running my usual ekphrastic writing group ‘From Paint to Page’ (7.45-9.30pm). It’s a monthly group, and this one will be themed around the Made in Roath Open Exhibition. To find out more about the group, and see some examples of ekphrastic writing, visit my blog.

Made in Roath Open

Well its 21 days until Made in Roath (which means I really must do an awful lot more typing and posting). 

 21 days until your favourite Roath based arts festival returns on October the 15th. 

We have lots to expect from this years festival, poetry, performance, art, film, happens, open houses and nearly everything else you can think of. Even with 21 days left to go its still not too late to get involved.

The Made in Roath Open is still accepting entries for this years exhibition. The Open this year will be held in the Gate Art Centre in the very heart of Roath. This popular Roath venue has already got it self a fine cultural standing and we are delighted to be holding the Open there.

But what is the Made in Roath Open you may ask? Well the Open is a popular and memorable part of each years festival. The Open is for anyone who wishes to submit and show a single piece of art work. There is no admission fee for showing or restrictions according to age, ability or experience. The Open is as the name suggestions, OPEN TO EVERYONE.

If your interested in taking part in this years Made in Roath Open then just submit an expression of interest to to find out all the information.

Deadline for the Open closes on October the 2nd and the very best of luck if you enter.

Made in Roath pub quiz in the Gate

According to the internet the pub quiz all began in the 1970s by a company called Burns and Porter. They created a weekly quiz night in their pub loosely inspired by the popular Trivial Pursuits general knowledge game. It was a cunning and frankly brilliant plan to get people into the pub on quiet nights.

 Since its humble beginnings the pub quiz has grown to be one of the most popular pub past times (the most popular one being “drinking” surprisingly. Not sure where karaoke falls upon this popularity scale but probably not as high [unless its soprano karaoke night of course hehe]).

Last night Made in Roath with the kind help of the Gate art centre in Roath joined in on this fine 1970s tradition (possibly the best tradition from the 1970s). The night was a great success with the Gate Pulpit bar being packed to extra seating added level. We held the quiz to raise money to help Made in Roath pay a very unfair and uncool bill that has been forced upon us.

The night saw 10 teams taking part in the ultimate Roath test of wit and general knowledge. Each team took part in the traditional six rounds (first being the very difficult picture round) with the other five rounds being themed around “Art knowledge”, “Music”, “Local/Roath knowledge”, “Current Affairs” and a fifth round that I currently can’t recall because I was outside at the time but it was something to do with questions about things, possibly.

Anyway there was a gripping finale with two teams tied in the lead. To settle matters we went to the tie break question, “how long is the River Severn?” (The answer is 220 miles.)

Stu, a regular quiz goer, with team mates Sam and Beech won the tie with the closest guess of 200 miles and claimed victory for the night.

But the real winner of the night was the fun we all had along the way. Questions were asked, some were answered and a few were guessed but I can’t help feeling we all became a little richer from the nights experiences.

Thanks for reading, see you at the next quiz.   21752342_1308138235981180_5513902107978059528_n

Welcome House a welcome mess

“Its easier to have new ideas in old buildings”  I can’t recall who said that but it sounds about right. We moved the last of our stuff out of Welcome House yesterday. The former Youth hostel that Made in Roath have been using as a free artist studio and general creative hub for the past year. Its played an important role in our calendar for the last year with it being used to hold exhibitions and studio openings, CREATE workshops and even a group of very talented architecture students who were designing seating. IMG_4030 It has been fantastic to have our own space and a roof over our heads, it comes as a surprise to most people to learn Made in Roath doesn’t have an office or any permanent building. The whole organisation is run from kitchens, using mobile phones with hasty meetings fitted into busy lives.   Welcome house has provided a welcome place to base ourselves. We hope too that it has also provided a welcome studio for many artists. The old youth hostel layout made it ideal for temporary studios which we were pleased to make available for artists to use free of charge. It also provided a base for workshops, the CREATE team installed their own mess making place and were able to run everything from postcard to life size puppet workshops.   I think my lasting memory of Welcome House will be the mess, the place was a mess when we went in, housing a collective group of creative people, not to mention a few break in’s by villainous riff-raff (to put it politely). The place was never going to be clean but it was never meant to be clean. Creativity isn't clean, its messy. From mess and madness work comes out. Wondering from room to room it was evident that this mess was part of that creativity. It was wonderful to witness the places creative mess.   Welcome House will be taken down soon to make way for new housing but we thank the landlord for allowing us to create mess and to house our creativity in Welcome House.   IMG_4036   p.s as we were clearing our Welcome House we came across this thing. For the life of us we have no idea what it is or what it could be used for. One lasting mystery of Welcome House.   IMG_4283  

42 days

There are seven days in a week and six weeks until October the 15th, which means there is just 42 days left until Made in Roath 2017 begins. This year’s festival is taking place between the 15th and the 22nd of October and will be the 9th year that your favourite community art and culture Roath based festival has spread out into the homes and streets of Roath (and occasionally, technically Cathay’s but “shhh”). The world has changed a lot in the last nine years, the festival along with it. We have grown from exhibitions in peoples homes over a few days to a week long festival of art, music, poetry, stage, film, pottery, photography, installations, happenings and things I don’t even know how to describe. This years festival will be no different, you will see this for yourselves in just 42 days. One thing to definitely look out for is this years street fete taking place on October 21st with the theme of “longer tables”. This will once again be the centre point of art, amusement and creativity. We’ll be posting more information about the festival in the coming days but your blogger chose this 42 day marker to begin the countdown to Made in Roath 2017. But why 42 you may ask, is it for some sort of cleaver and soon to be revealed reason which has some sort of very witty purpose in this years festival. (42 gazebos possible?) Nope, I’m afraid not. Is 42 a hidden easter egg like clue to some Roath wide art event? Nah. Or is it 42 because your blogger is a massive geek who processes a singular determination to work in references to Hitch Hikers Guide, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter at any possible opportunity… It doesn’t take a fool of a took to work out which. 21317670_1301305103331160_4111966427166767431_n

Red Route 2017

This will be the 4th time we have strolled to and fro over the earth from Merthyr to Roath on the journey to Made in Spring.
 It all started in 2014 under the name the “Red Shoes”. We then returned in 2015 and 16 under the banner of the Red Route. The red theme stems from the fact that Merthyr was the first place in world that saw a red banner being raised as a sign of protest during the 1831 Merthyr Rising. That event saw some 7,000 to 10,000 people marching under that red flag which later was adopted as the internationally symbol of struggle, injustice and socialism. It has been my privilege to have walked all three previous Red Routes and this shall be my fourth. It’s a 27 mile ritual, over two days that begins in the Red House in Merthyr and ends on Plasnewydd Road for Made in Spring and the start of the Spring arts season the next day. It works out at about 17 miles the first day and around 10 the next. The thing that frequently surprises me about the Red Route is the look of daunting disbelief that comes across peoples faces when they hear the mileage and the route. But the truth is it really isn't that bad.
 I mean it’s not like we are doing S.A.S. selection or anything, it’s just a pleasant stroll through some beautiful Valley countryside, past some incredibly interesting remains of the industrial revolution with frequent cultural stopping off points along the way for performances, art work and readings to watch and ponder over as you walk at your own pace along the Taff Trail. Plus you’re surrounded by some lovely people, get to enjoy a somewhat excess amount of tea and cake stops and thats not mentioning the Made in Roath guide team who know the Taff Trail so well they can (and in my case have often) walked the trail in the pitch dark, at 2 a.m., somewhat tipsy from the pub without falling over a single tree. (Horses are another matter mind.)
The most challenging thing about the Red Route is the same with any distance walk. It’s getting the mindset right. The walk isn't hard at all, it’s on a good path and to be honest the whole trail is parallel to a train line so you’re never more than a few miles from a train station.
Its all about the mindset, if you approach the walk with doubt or uncertainly then you’ll probably have a bad time but if you approach it with a sense of adventure, a positive attitude and a cheerful idea of fortitude then you’ll love it. Even if the weather turns wet. Some of the best walks I’ve done have been where it’s been hammering down with rain but because of the people around me and the mindset that “yeah this is pretty rubbish but hey I’m in it so may as well enjoy it and at least it’ll be an amusing story to tell”.
In some strange way it’s an encounter into the Sublime. (That strange artistic/philosophic idea by Edward Burke of experiencing awe in the strongest physical elements of nature.) Approach the Red Route with a positive mindset and you’ll have a great time. Oh and of course wear comfortable footwear, either boots or trainers and maybe bring a bottle of water.
Do join us for Red Route 2017. These days we rarely get the chance to walk. Time is often against us in our busy world, finding the time to walk and just think is sadly a rarity. One of the beauties of the Red Route is that it allows you this time to slow travel and ponder. To walk and not run. To journey rather than travel. Even if you can only join us for one of the two days you’ll still enjoy it. Thanks for reading, hope you’re having a good day. P.S. One great tip is to wear two pairs of socks, a thin pair and a thick pair. This stops your foot rubbing your shoe and cuts down on blisters.

The 2017 Roath is open, night walk

  “Well, it’s a marvellous night for a night walk with the stars up above so bright, a fantabulous night to see art works ‘Neath the cover of a January sky…..” These were the words I was humming as I stood alone, holding onto a large red light outside a charming Edwardian church on a street corner in Roath in the bitter cold of a January evening. As the light began to fade and dusk turned into the inky blue of night we were putting the last minute bits and bobs to the evening adventures. An event which signals the beginning of the creative year for all involved with Made in Roath and one which is a firm (if not cold) favourite. The event sees us taking a pleasant stroll through the streets of Roath stopping off at pre-arrange cultural points to enjoy and be enlightened by artists, poets, speakers, music makers and historians.  This year Made in Roath was illuminated by a large red light outside a charming Edwardian church on a street corner. The proceedings begin at G39 (our local international contemporary art gallery) in the shadows of the towering structures of Cardiff and with the sounds and yellow passing lights of traffic on City Road, we gathered ready to begin. It was a lovely night, cold and dark and we were surprised at the amount of people who braved the conditions and crowded together in harmony with the sounds a violin player serenading the air. The night walkers procession headed down City Road to the now rubble filled site of the former Poets Corner Pub where we heard the message that its better to do something rather than nothing. Onward then pushing down to where a proud car garage once stood, now transformed into a restaurant, a sign of the changing nature of the city and City Road in particular. Onward once again with an unexpected turn down a dark ally way and into the Yurt of Miligis where we learned about the history of the area. Off we went again, moving on quickly we headed passed a charming Edwardian Church illuminated very nicely by a very large red light on the street corner which served as an indicator as where to go next (see we had a plan for that). After another ally, this one containing refreshments and hot potatoes we finished the night at Welcome House, Made in Roaths current studio space, for a tour of the artist studios and to get warm around a roaring outdoor fire. It was a whistle stop tour of the night and its culture, a tale telling glimpse into the cultural heart of the city. As we the a new year, a refreshing reminder that yes there are things going on and yes there are people doing things so why don’t we join them and do things too. Cultural, musical, historical, writing, speaking, learning and enlightening things, I’d recommend all those things and more to try in 2017.