Today, (6 August) seven pieces of hanging art have been unveiled in Cardiff’s historic arcades in this year’s ‘City of Arcades’ campaign – The Art and Soul of Cardiff – run by FOR Cardiff.
A 21-foot-long angel suspended from the ceiling, sculptures balancing on tightropes and huge murals of Cardiff castle’s famous animal wall are just a few of the pieces on display.
In collaboration with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, FOR Cardiff has commissioned seven alumni to create pieces of suspended art – to celebrate Cardiff’s distinct and vibrant culture.
Education, history, green spaces, music, arts and theatre, food and drink, and sport are the key themes which FOR Cardiff think makes Cardiff a diverse city of culture.
Each piece of art forms part of a wider themed collection which will encourage the public to visit each arcade to get the full story.
Following on from the success of the inaugural City of Arcades Day in 2019 – where more than 80 businesses put on special offers or hosted events across the seven arcades – 63% of businesses saw an increase in sales.
With footfall down by 31% across Wales during August 2021 compared to August last year and the businesses in the arcades are also looking to get back on their feet.
Adrian Field, Executive Director at FOR Cardiff, said:
“Cardiff’s arcades are one of the capital’s strongest assets, and City of Arcades is about putting Welsh culture and Wales’ capital city on the map.
“Hanging these vivid pieces of art across the arcades is about making art and culture more accessible, while making Cardiff’s city centre a more attractive place for locals and tourists alike.”
Cardiff’s arcades are steeped in history with over 150 years of Welsh retail history brought together under a roof of classic Victorian and Edwardian architecture.
FOR Cardiff hopes people will come out and continue to support city centre businesses.
Rory Fleming, Centre Manager of the Morgan Quarter, said:
“It’s fantastic to welcome the return of City of Arcades campaign this year.
“The Morgan and Royal arcades are filled with some of the city’s most unique businesses, and this incredible exhibition will help drive footfall through the arcades, and into stores.”
The artwork is on display from Friday 6 August and people are encouraged to visit the arcades and enjoy the art up close.
Sean Crowley, Director of Drama at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, said:
“After a difficult 18-months for those in the creative industry, we’re delighted to play our part in this year’s campaign, and help give creatives the boost and exposure they need.”
The seven commissioned pieces will be unveiled across the City of Arcade’s social media platforms, and FOR Cardiff is encouraging people to support the artists and share photos of the artwork on Twitter (@cityofarcades_) and Instagram (@thecityofarcades).
About the 7 commissioned artists/pieces of art —
SPORT, Brad Caleb Lee, Dominions Arcade
Having previously pursued his Masters at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the city feels like a second home to Brad, who returned to Cardiff in 2019. Brimming with local flavour – from local cafes to green spaces to theatre and live performance, Cardiff continues to inspire his work, both locally and abroad.
Brad has created the experience of Sport in the Dominion Arcade. When most think of sport within Cardiff, they think of one thing – Rugby. However, Cardiff is host to a plethora of sporting venues – Rugby, Football, Cycling, Ice Hockey, Athletics, Cricket, and the list goes on. The city also offers endless opportunities for amateur, social, club, and individual sport. Throughout the centre of the arcade, copper graphic silhouettes highlight the sports that Cardiff is known for while colour waves celebrate the opportunities for inclusivity and shared community experiences that sport offers to participants and fans alike!
Found objects often mix with digital tools in Brad’s work, and this sculpture was created using laser cut recycled cardboard.
FRUIT & VEG, Cadi Lane, Wyndham Arcade
A Cardiff based illustrator and maker, Cadi worked in Theatre as a Set and Costume Designer prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Over the past year, she has had a chance to use new mediums to create her pieces and has completely fallen in love with rug tufting. Combining her set design skills with her newfound love, Cadi has been able to create some spectacular sculptures whilst keeping her work fun and eye-catching.
Cadi’s favourite thing about Cardiff is that you’re never far from a friendly face – a sentiment she has incorporated into her experience. The faces on her sculptures capture the variety of fun and quirky characters you’re likely to run into whilst spending a day in the Welsh capital.
Exploring the use of wool, glue and wadding – Cadi has used a tufting gun to create a sculptural experience inspired by the food stalls in Cardiff market.
MUSIC, Gabrielle Moore, Duke Street Arcade
With a background in Fine Art and having recently studied Scenic Arts and Construction at RWCMD, Gabrielle has found herself being drawn back to Cardiff city centre despite having graduated a few years ago.
The creation of the experience of ‘Music’ in the Duke Street Arcade has allowed Gabrielle to combine her fine art skills with her newly discovered scenic talent to create her inspiring piece.
Inspired by an ethereal nature, representing the organic flowing nature of music – Gabrielle has used the form of weeping willows to reference the many different types of music that make up the sounds of Cardiff. Intrigued by lights and shadows, she has used translucent materials to explore patterns and reflections that can be created on the different surfaces in the arcade.
HISTORY, Oliver Harman, The Castle Arcade
An active practitioner in Theatre, Oliver Harman started his creative career in Cardiff and draws inspiration from the city still. Cardiff, with threads of history weaving through the strong identity at the heart of the city, is place Oliver considers to be a place of community and inclusivity.
Oliver has drawn inspiration from Cardiff Castle, a site of international significance. Cardiff Castle’s Romanesque walls and fairy tale towers conceal 2,000 years of history.
The famous Animal Wall, created in the 1890s for the 3rd Marquess of Bute – the animal wall was brought to life by Architect William Frame, based on sketches by William Burgess.
ARTS & THEATRE, Petros Kourtellaris, Morgan Arcade
A RWCMD graduate who has been living in Cardiff for the past four years, Petros has seen Cardiff at its busiest when hosting events in the city centre, and quietest as a Capital City emptied due to a pandemic. Throughout this time – the city remained a hub for art and theatricals.
Petros prides himself on his creation of unique and thought-provoking pieces – with dramatic colours and fabrics being two elements that he enjoys incorporating into his work.
Petros has used recycled fabrics covered in beeswax to bring the experience of Arts & Theatre to life in the Morgan Arcade. Creating an abstract ethereal figure, inspired by artefacts from Cardiff Museum, Petros has created a spectacular sculpture – suspended between the two arches of the historical arcade.
GREEN SPACES, Seren Noel, High Street Arcade
Seren believes that Cardiff is a city which is thriving with creative potential. Working in an environmentally conscious way, from design to making, Seren has a background in large scale props, scenic art festival design, installation, protest art and sculpture. Sculptural pieces are her passion, and she has fantastic experience with creative the pieces displayed at the Abergavenny Food Festival.
Using recycled and natural materials, Seren has created a narrative through mixed media with an environmental message.
From Bute Park and Sophia Gardens to the gardens within the castle walls – Cardiff is home to an abundance of green spaces and wildlife. Seren has created her beautiful flowers from willow and mesh – you’ll also notice some insects and creatures on the lampshades lining the arcade!
EDUCATION, Sophie Kahn, The Royal Arcade
Born and raised in Cardiff, the arcades are steeped in an abundance of happy memories for Sophie. Recalling times spent going to art exhibitions on the second floor, admiring the Victorian architecture, and stories her dad told her of secret tunnels within the arcade – Sophie has brought the experience of Education into the Royal Arcade. Her aim was to create a visual spectacle, using wire to reflect the city’s industrial heritage interspersed with colourful fabrics to resemble the vibrancy and multi-cultural character of the city.
Depicting the immense skill, balance, decision making and support needed – Sophie has captured the balancing act that is being a student with her wire figures walking on a tight rope across the arcade.
Not only do the figures represent teamwork and individual excellence, but also the efforts and people who have come before us to allow us to reach new heights. Playing with ideas from molecules, DNA and the lightning lab in Cardiff University – Sophie has used found fabrics, threads and off-cuts to create the experience of Education in Cardiff.