Dragons, herons and giant bathtubs painted onto Cardiff's buildings have created an incredible urban art gallery. It's just one part of the Welsh capital’s thriving arts scene, which Cat Gardiner from the innovative Cardiff Arts Collective and gallery/ten is keen to share with visitors to the city.
Cat believes that what makes the Cardiff arts scene special is “the fact that it's growing year on year. And that is down to individuals, groups, collectives and institutions making things happen – whether publicly funded, privately or crowdfunded." According to Cat, it’s the “impetus to put on exhibitions of all media, to provide art opportunities to the artists from within and outside of the city” that has turned Cardiff into such a dynamic and exciting place for art.
The Cardiff Arts Collective, formed in 2012, is one such collaborative effort. Cat explains that its aim is “to provide a platform for exhibiting and promoting art, craft and design by Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan based practitioners.” Artists exhibiting with the collective include Michael Goode, who designs colourful linocuts inspired by vintage advertising and architecture, and Sian Elin, whose Scandinavian sensibilities merge with Eastern inspiration to create unique textiles, like her cotton lampshades printed with stripes and peacocks. Cat describes the Collective’s activities as “governed by the goal of encouraging creative enterprise, debate and discussion within the sector. Through collaborative projects and events, we are able to share ideas and assist with the development of professional artists and makers, and increase exposure to the public and potential markets.”
Seek your inspiration
A high point in the Arts Collective events calendar is the Cardiff Open, which last year was held in an empty Blockbuster Video shop in the picturesque Roath neighbourhood.
Cat remembers that the “response to the exhibition, the artists in residence and the simple fact that we had transformed a sad, empty, huge shop in the centre of the village was phenomenal – visitors came in their droves.” The Open was part of a wider local event, and during the Made in Roath arts festival weekend, "over 500 people came through the doors to see the work of 30 Cardiff and Vale based artists”. The appreciation seems to have been entirely mutual, as Cat adds that “we were certainly inspired by the people of Roath.”
For 2015, the Collective has already planned "an art fair in the Penarth Pier come spring... Cardiff Open - now in its fourth year - will once again be held in the autumn, plus numerous workshops and artist opportunities." Cat's also excited about other upcoming arts events, including "the National Museum of Wales’ blockbuster ceramics exhibition – [it] will include the work of a number of artists that have worked with us over the years”. The Museum is located just a 15-minute walk from our Radisson Blu Hotel Cardiff, so you'll have plenty of opportunities to explore its collections.
In between exhibitions, Cat recommends “walking around the city centre to see the street art hosted by the Empty Walls project". Inspired by Welsh and British lore, street artists from around the world have created fantastical murals over Cardiff’s buildings; look out for larger-than-life portraits and enormous painted birds that swoop across houses and over the cars beneath.