The Art of Haines

Please note, this post is part of a series. Click here to read it from the beginning.

In my last post I told you about the wonderful town of Haines, AK. I couldn’t move on to the next part of my trip without showing you photos of some of the artwork I saw in Haines. The whole town feels like a piece of art, every building unique and creative. Traditional Alaskan Native carvings and sculptures mingle with handmade jewellery and decorative architecture that looks like it came straight out of a hippy commune. Needless to say, I really like Haines.

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The Quirks of Seattle

Please note, this post is part of a series. Click here to read it from the beginning.

Seattle is a cool city. It’s as simple as that. If you’re at all arty, musical or a bit different, you’ll fit right in. When you scratch just under the surface, though, you realise that this creative and chilled out culture is by no means an accident. Local businesses, both big and small, and residents work hard to ensure that Seattle maintains its quirks. This city is proud to be different, and that’s why I like it.

One thing you’ll notice as you travel around Seattle is the massive amount of artwork everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It’s outside offices, in parks, on the sides of buildings. Styles and mediums differ greatly, too. It looks like no-one puts much thought into what goes where, although again I have a sneaky suspicion that this is purposely planned. The reason for the huge numbers of work becomes clear when you learn that, within Seattle, it’s compulsory for all businesses to use a percentage of their profits to support artists. It makes for an eclectic mish mash of pieces, but in Seattle that works fine.

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Made in Roath: Part 5


This week, I have been sharing with you my favourite bits of the 2013 Made in Roath festival. Here’s all the stuff that didn’t quite fit in anywhere else.

I came across these guys outside the community centre at the end of my street. I have no idea what their performance piece was all about, but they were certainly attracting a crowd.


This little critter was hiding in a tree next to the community garden.


When the festival is on, it’s not always easy to tell what is art and therefore part of the festival and what isn’t. I remember one year when a toilet appeared on the street outside my house. I was too embarrassed to phone the council and ask them to remove it incase it was an installation piece!

Down at Om Yoga Studio, Kalavathi showed us how to make Kolam art, an Indian technique using coloured rice powder.

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The whole festival finished on Thursday evening with a cycle-in screening of E.T. We are very environmentally conscious in our neighbourhood, and residents were given free popcorn if they arrived by bike.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my view of the festival. If you’re ever in Cardiff in October, come check out our cool community.

Made in Roath: Part 4

If you’ve ever read my blog before, you’ll know that I love street art. During the Made in Roath festival, there was lots of new street art that popped up around the neighbourhood. What made it more exciting was that we weren’t told exactly where the new pieces were going to be or what they would depict. You’d here a rumour from someone who’d spotted one, and then everyone would dash off to see it for themselves. Here’s the ones that I managed to find:

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Made in Roath: Part 3


As part of Made in Roath, The Closed Road provided an eclectic mix of activites in a relatively small space.

There was music…

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arts and crafts…


yet more artwork…

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(they provide educational workshops on where chickens and eggs come from. The owners of the chickens that is, not the actual chickens themselves)


And my personal favourite, the Milkwood caravan. Milkwood is a gallery a short walk from my home. They use the caravan as a mobile venue. For the festival, they asked people to tell them their story, and in return you got a free book. I chose a Lonely Planet guide to Germany. It’s a few years out of date, but I’m sure some of it is still relevant 🙂

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Made in Roath: Part 2

One of the great things about the Made in Roath festival is that it brings the community together. You find yourself talking to strangers that you have probably walked past hundreds of times and sharing stories with them. Some of the conversations are triggered naturally whilst admiring the same piece of artwork or asking others for directions to your next stop. Some, on the other hand, are slightly more engineered by exhibits that are designed to get people talking.

‘Shelternet’ by Francesc Serra Vila was installed in the community garden to encourage people to come together and get involved. Various activites took place there, including a skills swap. I really like standing in the structure, it felt secure and it reminded me of being in a tent.

Francesc's model for Shelternet
Francesc’s model for Shelternet

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‘The World in Roath’ was a simple, yet brilliant, idea from Johan Hilditch and Linda Hilditch. They put a giant map of the world on a board in the street, and invited everyone to pin their connections to different parts of the planet onto it.


Clive Ward asked people to contribute to his piece ‘Interacting with our Natural Environment’ by coming along to the conservatory and adding some plastic to it, highlighting the effects of our interaction with the environment.

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Made in Roath: Part 1


There are many reasons I love my neighbourhood. There’s always something to do here, exciting projects to get involved in and new friends to meet. It’s hard to define exactly where ‘Roath’ is. Officially, Roath doesn’t exist. Cardiff Council will tell you that the area known as Roath is an amalgamation of Plasnewydd, Pen-y-lan and Cathays. Locally, however, I think it will always be known as Roath.

Five years ago, a small group of local artists set up some exhibitions that enouraged new artists to show their work alongside established ones. Flyers were dropped through the doors of neighbourhood houses, inviting people to open up their homes as mini galleries.

One of the Made in Roath numbers that are given out to guide people around the exhibits
One of the Made in Roath numbers that are given out to guide people around the exhibits

Today, the Made in Roath arts festival takes over the entire neighbourhood for a whole week and includes film, music, performance, demonstrations and some things that just can’t be categorised. There’s an amazing buzz around Roath when the festival is on, and the great atmosphere makes it impossible not to leave the house and join the hundreds of people wandering around with festival programmes in their hands.

And the best thing about Made in Roath? It’s free! Oh, and wherever you go, there’s always lots and lots of cake.

It’s impossible to visit all of the events during the festival. There are over sixty inlcuded in the art maps given out to visitors to help them find their way around, and that’s not including the people who just decide to randomly set up on their own. I tried my best to get around as much as I could, though, even when the weather turned against us and it poured down with rain. I’d like to share with you what I experienced during the festival, but even with the limited time I had free I managed to cram in a lot, so I’ve decided to split it up into different posts over the week.

I thought I’d start at the beginning, the reason the festival exists – art.

A record number of people decided to hold open houses this year, and the work ranged from traditional paintings and sculpture to canvases made from melted wax crayons, weaving and textiles, poetry displayed in windows and robots. There was more than enough to fill a day just on my street.


Jacob Whittaker covered the path to his front door with records to show how the recording format has virtually disappeared in recent years. He also placed pieces of broken record around Roath with QR codes that led to various videos including the first published birdsong recording on a 1920s grampohone.


‘Facing the Park’ by Betina Skovbro showed a series of individual portraits, placed in the front windows of a row of houses, revealing the people who live there.

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There was also a bigger diversity of locations this year, including pubs, shops, restaurants and even the local laundarette.

Unfortunately, some of the venues were not up to defending themselves against the British weather. New artists having a go at painting as part of ‘Paint the Park’ found their canvases got more than a bit wet.

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My friend Paddy, a professional photographer, included some of his work. My favourite is the first photo 🙂


All the photos from the 2013 Cardiff Photomarathon were displayed outside one of the community centres. And, as I entered the Photomarathon, I can technically say that I was a contributing artist to Made in Roath. OK, it’s a tenuous link I know, but let me have my moment.

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And, just in case you lost your map or couldn’t decide what you wanted to see, Gerogina Fineman helpfully doodled recommendations of the best things to do every day on the window of my favourite restaurant, Milgi.


The snow is on it’s way


We found out on Friday that we were due to get snow here in Wales over the weekend. Cue mass hysteria in our office. Us Brits really don’t deal well with snow. To be fair, the snow we get here in the UK isn’t like the nice, soft, fluffy stuff you get in the rest of Europe. Here it falls in big, slushy dollops and then freezes within hours, turning the roads into massive ice cubes.

For most of the weekend, the weather has just been wet, cold and incredibly windy. I braved it yesterday to walk to the market and the gym, but then retreated inside to enjoy a hot bowl of homemade leek and potato soup.


The first snow flakes, although still very wet and slushy, started to fall here in Cardiff at about 8.30pm tonight. I’ll be up early in the morning to see if it’s settled and find out if we’re snowed in!

2013: Bring It On


I hope you like my new sketches that I’ve started adding to some of my posts. One of the things I want to do more of this year is draw, as it’s something that I used to do a lot of but I’ve let slip in the past couple of years. I thought my blog would be the perfect opportunity to encourage myself to get drawing again. My idea is to add sketches to my posts that represent what I’ve been up to that week.

This little doodle symbolises how I hope to grow in 2013. But who knows where that growth will take me?

I’m also loving being inspired by other people’s art at the moment. Good street art in particular is really getting me excited, like this great silhouette stencil that I spotted on my way home from the market on Saturday morning.



Italian Street Art

During my recent trip to Italy, one thing I noticed in abundance everywhere I went was the amount of really good street art. It was painted on the walls of subways, train stations, on the sides of the trains themselves, on temporary walls to hide building sites. Basically, anywhere that there was space that wasn’t already being used.

I know a lot of people just see street art as vandalism, but my personal opinion is that, when it’s done properly, it’s beautiful. Here are some photos I took whilst wandering around Italy.

I also really like the design of this building – I assume it’s supposed to echo the Leaning Tower of Pisa that is just a couple of miles away