Tag Archives: adam chard photography

Patterns of Cardiff, January 2016: a photo essay by Adam Chard

Designer / photographer / zombie lover Adam Chard is actually one of the co-founders of this site. Yes! Way back in 2010, on a quiet Friday afternoon, he and I hatched a plan to change Cardiff, the only way we knew how: BY THE POWER OF BLOGGING! Many of the wonderful portraits of Cardiffians that exist on this blog were taken by Adam.

These days, Adam can be found writing for the We Are Cardiff Press, doing artwork for Darkened Rooms, or hanging around Cardiff with his camera, taking pictures of everything. He took some dashed nice photos of the city (in between the rain) recently, so I took the opportunity to grab him for a quick Q&A too.

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Adam Chard profile pic

Hi! My name’s Adam Chard and I work as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator under the name Croatoan. You might also see me at Chapter Arts Centre in Canton where I work a few days a week as part of the marketing team.


I bought my first camera shortly after Helia and I set up the We are Cardiff blog in the summer of 2010. We were both working at the National Assembly for Wales at the time and we had an idea about getting people to write about their experiences in Cardiff and taking photos of them in locations that mattered to them – by the time I got home from work that day Helia had
already set up the blog, so I knew I had to get started.
I bought a starter-level Nikon SLR and went out on a couple of shoots with the excellent Simon Ayre before taking the plunge on solo missions – having assignments helped me get to know my camera really quickly.
I really love capturing a split-second, un-posed moment, whether that’s a Tiger Bay Brawler in mid-air at the roller derby or a band member jumping into the crowd during a gig at Clwb Ifor Bach. I also love to go on little missions armed with a specific fixed-length lens, seeing what I can shoot with that enforced restriction.
This set of photos is the result of a wander round Cardiff on a pretty grey Monday. I’d just watched and loved the trailer for Ben Wheatley’s film adaptation of JG Ballard’s High Rise, which is what inspired the retro-futuristic shots of the tops of buildings around town.

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I work as a designer and it’s really good to be able to offer photography in with any graphic design work that requires it, but I love it as a hobby. It’s a great way of expressing yourself and your interests. As with a lot of my design and illustration work, I like brightly-coloured, eye-popping things and lots of
angular or geometric patterns in my photography.
This photoset of the Zombie Walk in Toronto in 2012 is probably the perfect storm of all of my interests!
I have a website for my design work at croatoandesign.co.uk – I post my photos on Flickr (Adam Chard: Flickr) and you can find me on Twitter at @croatoandesign.
See a set of my favourite photos on Flickr here: Adam Chard favourite Flickr pics.
Thanks Adam! And see you all soon …

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Cardiff Alms – Jodie


The Cabin

Roald Dahl referred to the sweet shop in Boy as ‘the very centre of our lives. To us, it was what a bar is to a drunk or a church is to a Bishop.’ And I would hasten to agree.

What The Cabin brought us, with her little round windows and moss-green roof tiles, was a haven. She was the communal grandmother, the saccharine reward to keep me still in church that became a Sunday ritual.

With my pocket money burning a hole through my ladybird purse, I would count out penny sweets into the paper bag, pondering over my selection. Kola Kubes, Millions, Sherbet Lemons, Milk Bottles, Flying Saucers, Lemon Bonbons; all were scrutinised and mulled over. Not just anyone got in.

Once, the man behind the counter informed me, to my horror, that I was one penny short. He winked at me and told me not to tell anyone, handing over the corrupted bag with its nefarious stash. I reached up and took it, awe-struck. I couldn’t believe he’d put his neck on the line just for me. There and then I made a solemn oath that to my dying day, I would not reveal this treacherous debt. As soon as I got home, I hid the incriminating sweet bag in the back of Noel, my zip up monkey, and took from it furtively.

She’s a chiropractic clinic now, the Cabin. They tore out her wooden shelves, shelves which used to hold jar upon jar of tooth-rotting bribes and sticky enticers, to make room for treatment couches. They lino’d over the wood and white-washed her walls. Now people go there to get their backs cracked and joints adjusted.

It just doesn’t seem as fun.

May she rest in peace.

The Monico

We are gathered here today in remembrance of a lady dear to all our hearts, who has now been demolished and turned into luxury flats.

I remember when it happened. After years of darkness she sat blinking in the sun, her back wall ripped out, exposing row up row of faded red seats. Through the lesion I could see her sleepy projector window clouded with glaucoma, and her set of centre steps which now just led to nothing.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t done with any kind of decorum. It was as if someone had bent her over, lifted up her brown and yellow skirt and showed her big granny knickers to the world.
And that was that, the heavy velvet curtains drawn on the days of Saturday cinema, the screechy Wurlitzer organ and the parade of birthday children. The credits had rolled on the excitement of seeing the stern-faced, Mr Monico in the foyer and the nomination of who was going to ring up the answer machine to get the timetable.

Her carpets were sticky with generations of ‘not to be sold separately’ cans of coke, kernel-heavy popcorn and overpriced Revels. “Keep the floor neat beneath your feet”, she’d say, “Refreshments are available in the lobby,” and then serenade us with the ‘Pearl and Dean’ theme tune.

She was a place of playdates, first dates and Beauty and the Beast. Not to mention burgeoning romances and first-time teenage fumblings. I distinctly remember a man smoking in there once, big puffs billowing up through the projector beam. My mum was too polite to say anything.

Mr Monico came through my brother’s till in Tesco a few years after, and he was surprised to learn that his name wasn’t Mr Monico at all, it was in fact, Mr Bull. He looked genuinely upset when he later informed me of this.

And so, with a heavy heart, we say goodbye to this Disney sympathiser, Titanic trader and Star Wars supplier.

We’ll miss you.

The Bandstand

A friend to the people of Cardiff and to Bon Jovi, the Bandstand was a man to be trusted and depended upon. He the meeting place for countless people over numerous generations. I myself used to wait for friends with him, in the days before mobile phones, when we just made solid plans. I also spent most of an afternoon with him once, queueing to meet the Super Furry Animals in Virgin Megastore. There was an awkward picture of me in the Echo the next day, clutching my newly signed copy of ‘Rings Around the World’ and looking like, as I did for about a year, the oldest one from Hanson.

“I’ll see you there at eleven”, we’d say, carefully timing our phone call to try to avoid the embarrassment of having to speak to one of our friend’s parents. I’d only had the five minute window of when my mum chucked my brother off the dial-up so I could use the phone. “You should get outside more”, she’d tell him, brushing back her perm and adjusting her massive glasses. So, bang on eleven we’d turn up in our peasant tops and Gwen Stefani bindis, skirting the Goths which congregated on him to smoke.

He supplied a familiar facade, a destination to aim for. He was reliable and stalwart, a permanent fixture. And then one day, he was gone. It happened so fast it was over before I’d even acknowledged it.

They paved over his uprooted foundations and twisted his ribs up through the concrete to make bike racks.

People walk over his grave every day and have no idea he was ever there.

Rhiwbina Infants
I am happy to see so many of her friends here today, and I’m sure many of you will remember her with the same fondness and affection as I do.

She had been my first teacher. She had stuck star stickers on my recorder and taught me how to write my name. She was there the time I forgot my vest and had to do PE with my dress tucked into my knickers, and when Sophie peed herself during assembly and I had to keep shuffling further and further back to escape the spread.

She had sympathised with me when I was sick all over her parquet floor (in my black and white stripy jumper) and the time I was caught drawing pencil stars on the desk (wearing the cursed flowery dress which I refused to wear ever again). I was made to wipe them off with the entire class stood around the table watching, my face hot and red.

“You missed a bit,” said Chloe, which was ludicrous, as she had drawn just as many stars as me. In fact, she had drawn the first. It was that moment that I realised that there was no justice in the world.

It was a sad time, the night she burnt down. I was there myself, watching her impromptu pyre from the fence, bundled up in my snowflake dressing gown and wellies. I remember feeling the heat on my face and the cold autumn air on my back, like ice cream and warm chocolate sauce.
We stood in silence, the whole street, the dead air punctured by a steady crackle and the occasional muffled crunch. Her immolation was hard to watch. I thought of all the ‘mummy and daddy’ crayon drawings and the painted hand prints that were now reduced to just spiralling embers.

But she lives on through us. I have many fond memories of her, which I’m sure you all do too. She was a teacher to us all.


It is with great sadness that I stand in front of you to remember the life of Zeus. He was a brother, a father and a friend, not to mention a matchmaker and a pretty damn good dancer.
For me, he bridged the gap between childhood and adolescence, a neon lantern in the dark no-man’s land of the first few years of high school. Through his under-sixteen nights he taught me about boys, about wearing heels and the importance of keeping your head up during a foam party.

We’d queue round the block for an hour or so, girls on one side, boys on the other. The doormen would check our pockets for cigarettes and our bags for booze. I never tried to sneak anything in, I was far too much of a goody two shoes. One time, the woman on the door gave me an odd look when she reached into the pockets of my denim jacket and found them packed to the brim with sanitary towels. My mum said I only needed to take one, two at the most, but I always was paranoid about stuff like that.

Once inside, we’d totter up the stairs in our super cool wedged sandals and pedal pushers and immediately cluster in a corner. We couldn’t believe what some of the girls were wearing.

After scoping it out a bit, and getting the obligatory group photo taken (that’s three pounds each, you can pick it up on the way out), we’d make our way over to the dance floor. He’d always play the 90s favourite, ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’, which was always, always followed up with ‘Mambo Number Five’. We’d always dance in a circle, not daring to put our handbags down after our parent’s stern warnings: there could be kids from Cantonian here.

Although someone now stands where he once stood, he’ll always be special to us. He was the platform for our first foray into adulthood, showed us what it was going to be like from there on in, taught us what it was to be big.

And for that, I thank him.


Jodie Kay Ashdown was born in Rhiwbina in the golden days of 1985, but now walks her dog on the streets of Llandaff North. She places myself firmly in the ‘Cardiff born, Cardiff bred’ category. To top it off, she’s now studying an English and Creative Writing degree at Cardiff Met and plans to complete a Masters there after that. She spent just under four years travelling around the world experiencing such delights as snake feasting, being bitten by a monkey and contracting acute giardiasis. But no matter how far she travels, she always ends up back here, and it’s always a pleasure to come home. In Cardiff, you’ll usually find her in one of the proper pubs around Womanby Street, with a gin and tonic and probably a good book. 

She was photographed at Trout Books by Adam Chard


“Adamsdown is my favourite” – Ellie


I went to Aberystwyth University and had a few friends that moved to Cardiff when they graduated. A few of us hung around Aber for a bit not knowing what we should do and then decided we would all just move to Cardiff. I’ve lived in Riverside then Roath and now settled in Adamsdown. Adamsdown is my favourite, because it’s cheap and most of my friends live in the surrounding streets. Though I have fond memories of Riverside and my housemates, and Roath because I met a lovely landlord and his family who became my adopted Cardiff family! Cardiff is just so friendly and welcoming which is why it rocks!

By day, I am a legal secretary for a Patent and Trade Mark firm. It’s a job I fell into but it’s pretty great. In my spare time I do the admin for the Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club. If you haven’t heard of us we are a Cardiff-based (so far!) cabaret night. We began in 2010, staging themed shows in our local community hall that featured circus performers, musicians, dancers and actors from Cardiff and around the world. Our shows are immersive and intimate, driven by playfulness and good fun; the audience is invited to become part of the cabaret family for the evening. By 2011 these nights were growing in popularity, and we were invited by the Wales Millennium Centre to perform as part of the 2011 Blysh festival. Since then, Mary Bijou has been going from strength to strength. We recently performed at our second Machynlleth Comedy Festival 2013, of which we were invited back to before our 2012 first year’s festival was even over! We provide the after-hours’ entertainment in the evenings as well as daytime circus workshops.

We’re going to be back at The Centre’s Blysh festival this July and August, bigger and better than ever, with a show called “Hitch” in the Spiegel tent which is ever so exciting. This year we get a four night run!

We’re confident that this summer’s show for the Centre will be our best yet. We’re already planning our shows for Machynlleth next May, and hope to include a daytime family-friendly “children’s’ cabaret”.

Some of my favourite things to do in the city are head to the hula hooping class at the Nofit State Circus HQ or at a spin class after work, or trawling junk shops for 1950s kitchens at the weekend, going to any number of the wonderful gigs and shows happening around town, electro-swing hopping with the Kitsch n Sync girls at their Tuesday class, drinking Waterloo tea in Porter’s and catching up with friends.

There are a whole load of fun things to recommend in this city – but obviously the first one would be to come and see our show in the spiegeltent this July 31st until 3 August 2013!

Ellie Pilott has collaborated with Mary Bijou since the first show in 2010. Nofit State circus inspired her to take up hula hoop but she is too shy to perform so she stays in the background and does a number of jobs filling in where appropriate but mainly the administration and marketing. She is a proficient tea drinker, junk shop trawler, hula hoop teacher and property finder. She makes Mary Bijou Go, Go, Go! Catch Mary Bijou on Facebook or Twitter @themarybijou or on their website. She currently lives in Adamsdown.

Mary Bijou’s show Hitch premieres in their purpose-built Spiegeltent in Cardiff Bay outside the Wales Millennium Centre between 31 July and 4 August 2013.

Ellie was photographed with her hula hoops at Porter’s by Adam Chard


“Unity Festival’s visiting acts always comment on how much they love coming to Cardiff” – Ben

Ben Pettitt-Wade photographed by Adam Chard

For the last nine months I have been planning and organising Hijinx Theatre’s annual Unity Festival – a two week event that sees a variety of award winning inclusive arts companies descend upon Cardiff. I have to say I’m exhausted! We’re a Cardiff-based inclusive arts company with a very small team. In reality we don’t have enough staff or resources to be doing this, thank goodness for volunteers! But every hour spent is worth it for Cardiff, the arts and the performers.

Having worked in Liverpool, London and Seville (albeit briefly) and Cardiff, I can honestly say that Cardiff is on a par with these cities in terms of the inclusive art scene and the work being produced, but it’s the audiences that differ. I’ve sat in packed 1,000 seat theatres in Seville watching a piece of inclusive dance, we wouldn’t get that in Cardiff, and that’s something we are trying to change through Unity Festival. We believe in the work we present and believe it should be enjoyed by everyone.

We started in 2008 with an audience of 1,500 people and year on year the festival has grown in both size and ambition to become one of the largest inclusive arts festivals in Europe, with more than 7,000 people enjoying performances in 2012. Last year will always be unforgettable. For the first time we received £100,000 of funding from the Arts Council of Wales which meant we could start thinking big and turn what were pipe dreams into a reality. We brought Back to Back Theatre from Australia over for the Festival; they performed for three days in the middle of Queen Street. It was incredible.

This year we’re lucky to have secured the same funding and as a direct result of the Paralympics we are welcoming more home grown acts than ever before. Our mission is to build on the Festival each year while staying true to its core – to provide a platform for the inclusive arts, offer more opportunities within the spotlight for disabled artists and expose their amazing talents.

For the first time, Cardiff audiences will be able to enjoy spectacles including modern fable The Iron Man (a colossal iron puppet the size of a double decker bus) from London-based Graeae Theatre Company, who can be credited with kicking off the whole movement in disability arts in the 1970s. As well as Three Acts of Play from Candoco Dance Company, UK pioneers of inclusive contemporary dance; it will twist your perceptions of who can dance and who enjoys it!

We are also showcasing international acts, Sevilliano flamenco Cia Jose Galan, back by popular demand following a near sell out last year and jaw-dropping acrobatics from French company Cirque Inextremiste. I saw this show in Marseille and I guarantee it will blow you away.

More than anything I love the feel good vibe that the Festival creates and can’t wait to experience it again. Our visiting acts always comment on how much they love coming to Cardiff, how friendly people are and the great reception they get. So, people of Cardiff, I’m asking you to come and see for yourself the brilliant theatre dance, music and comedy on offer and help make this year the best yet with the biggest audience!

Ben Pettitt-Wade was born in London, grew up in Carmarthenshire and has lived in Riverside for the last six years. Following completion of a drama degree, Ben’s acting career was cut short when he broke his ankle in rehearsals; he then joined Spare Tyre Theatre Company in London where he co-ordinated inc.Theatre, a training course for learning disabled actors. It was here that Ben discovered a passion for working inclusively and specifically in drama with learning disabled performers. Since then he has amassed over 10 years experience in this field, in Cardiff, London and Seville. Ben is responsible for the Hijinx Academy, the Hijinx Pods, the community projects,  forum theatre pieces, and the Unity Festival. He currently lives in Riverside.

Unity Festival runs from 12-22 June 2013, and offers both free and ticketed performances across the city at Wales Millennium Centre and Sherman Cymru. Visit www.hijinx.org.uk/unity for a full programme or see @HijinxTheatre on Twitter. 

Ben was photographed in Cardiff Bay by Adam Chard


“You’re never alone in Cardiff. It’s like Lost but with the warmth of Postman Pat” – Jonny


On July 30th, 2008, at Estació de Sants in Barcelona, I got my heart broken. Shutting myself away from the world broken. Every song on my iPod relating to my failed relationship broken. Not getting dressed all weekend broken.

To get me through the trauma, I grew a beard. This proved utterly useless. After six months of moping alone, I moved to Grangetown.

Back home in the Merthyr valley, I was something of an outcast due to my aversion to drinking heavily and impregnating strangers. My parents were concerned at my choice of location. They live opposite a crack den. Their argument is invalid.

It wasn’t a snap decision. I wanted a change of scenery and to be within walking distance of work. Using High Fidelity’s ‘what really matters is what you like, not what you are like’ test, I scoured Gumtree and settled on one advert titled ‘Ace Room Seeks Good Person’.

My prospective housemates appeared to share my tastes and interests, but the clincher was the reason they gave for their other housemate leaving: ‘It’s because we like to stand outside the room at night dragging my nails down the door and whispering things like “Are you asleep?”, “I hate you”, “What are you doing?” and “Are you asleep now?”. Either that or because she got offered to move in with some of her bestest best friends ever.’

Reassuring though that was, packing up and moving to the big city is a pretty intimidating move.

Cardiff is not a big city.

In fact, I think Douglas Adams who once said “Cardiff is tiny. Really tiny. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly tiny it is. I mean you may think it’s a short way down the stairs to the kitchen, but that’s just peanuts to Cardiff.”

What might be claustrophobic is a disarming strength to living in Cardiff. Walks to town are frequently broken up with quick catch ups with passing friends. There are always familiar faces to be found at any event you choose to attend.

It’s like Lost but with the warmth of Postman Pat.

You’re never alone in Cardiff. And given my reasons for moving, it’s proved the perfect place to be. The beard continues to be utterly useless.

When not fixing computers for Cardiff University, Jonny Bull organises a Sunday afternoon kickabout for the unfit and untalented and co-runs a monthly quiz at Gwdihw. He curates the entire internet at http://dogscantlookup.com and documents his life in nauseating detail at http://twitter.com/jonnyathan. He believes ‘ear’, ‘here’ and ‘year’ are all pronounced the same and loathes compliments, photographs of his face and writing in the third person.

Jonny was photographed in Grangetown by Adam Chard