Tag Archives: arts in cardiff

The Actual History Museum of Roath

Every single suburb of Cardiff offers something different. But there’s something about Roath … Ellie Philpotts went along to investigate one project that certainly makes the area special.

actual museum roath

As readers of We Are Cardiff, you probably know just how vibrant this city is. Every day brings something new, while no resident has the same experience of living here. Plus, each suburb has its own cultural quirks. Where better to demonstrate this than Roath?

As a relative newbie to Cardiff, since moving here in 2014 to start English Lit and Journalism at Cardiff Uni, I’ve only ever lived in Cathays. Despite this, my favourite district has always been Roath. The place has it all – more international cuisine than you realised you could ever squeeze into a road (City Road, I’m looking at you); a beautiful lake, park and botanical garden; a tangible community spirit, with events such as the annual Made in Roath and Made in Spring festival; and now, of course, the Actual History Museum of Roath.

I’ve got to confess – I didn’t know much about this project, until We Are Cardiff’s wonderful founder, Helia, asked me pop along to do a piece on it. After as much research as I could do without ruining the suspense, I went along to the museum itself, and here’s what went down…

After getting kind of lost on the way (slightly embarrassing considering how close I live), I arrive at the address on Werfa Street, pretty soaked by that common thing called Cardiff rain, but excited to find out more. I’m offered a very warm welcome by the main curators, Dr Glen Roy and Sir Alfred Street, and before long we’re chatting away over a brew.

The first thing I want to know, from the horse’s mouth, is what it specifically is that the Actual History Museum of Roath represents? I’m told, ‘we bring knowledge to the ignorant, and open people’s eyes to the wonders of Roath. A lot of people know the aesthetics, of things like cafes, but they don’t think of the history much.’

Well now I’m intrigued. The Actual History Museum of Roath is a local project redefining Roath in a witty and unique way – leave your definitions of ‘truth’ firmly at the gate. The museum itself is in a garden shed at the Werfa Street home, featuring an interesting range of trinkets and artefacts which collectively form the north-eastern district’s rich history.

There are murals asking ‘what became of the Lake Roath Monster?’, plus maps, cave paintings and some rather amusing songbird rivalries with Splott…

The famous Roath vs Splott song goes as follows:

‘More beer landlord,
I’m a happy fella,
When I’m drinking in the Roath Bierkeller,
When I was young I travelled far,
I once went to Llanedeyrn,
The people there smelled funny,
And really did my head in,

(Repeat chorus)

Oh Roath it is a lovely place,
The pies are always hot,
Unlike those bits of gristle,
That they call pies in Splott,

(Repeat Chorus)

Oh landlord bring a flagon and we will make an oath,
To the greatest of all countries,
The place that we call Roath.’


This little hideaway and its connections play a vital role in Made in Roath, seeing visitors frequently flock to find out more about the true history of the place. The team behind the Actual History Museum of Roath all go by very Roathian names – there’s Dame Shirley Road; Dr Glen Roy and Professor Sir Alfred Street – and are keen to make Roath be considered independent. There’s no question about it – they certainly think it’s the pride of the capital, but this is taken to new heights with ideas such as their ‘Roatherendum’. 400 voted, with only eight preferring to stay dependent within Cardiff. Independence now!

A photgraph from the Museum's collection: Sir Lancalot Werfa, ever the Explorer of Roath, was already planning his next adventure with Sir Donald Street's grandfather Sir " Jimmy" Quality Street. This adventure never took place, due to his failure to successfully return from his Roath Recreation Park Crossing (1908, permission Actual History Museum Roath).
A photograph from the Museum’s collection: Sir Lancalot Werfa, ever the Explorer of Roath, was already planning his next adventure with Sir Donald Street’s grandfather Sir ” Jimmy” Quality Street. This adventure never took place, due to his failure to successfully return from his Roath Recreation Park Crossing (1908, permission Actual History Museum Roath).

Although of course unofficial and unrecognised by the government, the polls became quite the talking point around the close-knit community, and it seems even further afield – making it onto Radio Wales and Wales Online.

The Museum embodies the wacky charm that would surely only work on the good people of Cardiff. Engaging everyone by bringing a very new slant on what it means to be a Roath resident, I don’t think I’m alone in hoping the team keep up their open days; quirky Youtube videos and Made in Roath starring role for years to come. I’m just not sure their old rivals in Splott would agree…

PS – They’re expecting you to perhaps be a bit confused at first.

The actual history museum of Roath Facebook page

The actual history museum of Roath YouTube


Ellie Philpotts

Ellie Philpotts is our writer on the ground in central Cardiff. Telling it like it is!

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Autumn art in the city: Cardiff Contemporary, 3/10-9/11 2014

Somehow we’ve crash landed in autumn in the city, and as you might have guessed from the title of this post: autumn means art in the city of Cardiff. The Cardiff Contemporary Festival has already started – apologies for not blogging about it sooner but it’s been a busy few weeks! Anyway, without further ado, let’s get on with laying out the Cardiff Contemporary Festival for you.

cardiff contemporary 2014

Cardiff Contemporary bills itself as a city-wide festival of contemporary arts, showcasing a programme of exhibition, events, and activities over  five weeks (see the image above if you don’t believe me). The theme for this year’s festival is Reveal/Conceal, and thus the festival takes art into the city’s arts centres, galleries, museums and iconic spaces, but also uses hidden or unknown sites, revealing the city in “fascinating and intriguing ways”.

Cardiff Contemporary makes use of the entire city as a space to experience art – from Central Station to the pages of South Wales Echo, you may find art anywhere.


There is absolutely shedloads going on in Cardiff Contemporary this year. I thought I’d pick out some of the things I’ll be trying to see. I’ve chosen things that are taking place in buildings you can’t normally get into, or events that seem to indicate some kind of interesting exchange between artist and visitors. Etc.

Read on!

CIVIC (4 October – 9 November, Cardiff Story Museum 11am-5pm)

CIVIC is an interactive display put together by a series of artists, inviting visitors to propose ideas and interventions for Cardiff. All visitors are invited to experiment with constructing and rebuilding their own cities using a variety of materials – to help you out, there are workshops in drawing, shadow puppetry, wireframe sculpture, and even a Phonebox Disco! (CIVIC – more info)


The Told and Untold Tour (11, 18, 25 October 2014)

The Told and Untold Tour is a weekly series of themed, artist-led mystery bus tours in Cardiff. Each weekend throughout October a selected artist with tannoy in hand will take participants on a journey through the city and its lesser-known points of intrigue. The Told and Untold Tour highlights the mystery of travelling, asking the passengers to let the artists lead in an educational leap of faith. The excitement of simply stepping on a bus to who-knows-where becomes a catalyst for exchange between artists and the public.

Pick up at Cathays Park, tours are as follows:

Saturday 11 October 2014, 2pm
Thomas Goddard ‘Nato in My Town’

Saturday 18 October 2014, 2pm
Roger Lougher

Saturday 25 October 2014, 2pm
Neil McNally ‘Far Off Things’

Tickets: Please call St David’s Hall Box Office on 02920 878444. Tickets are free but limited.


Sculpture Trail (3 October – 9 November 2014)

The works encountered on Matt Cook’s Sculpture Trail range from life-size abstract figures overlooking the canal, to discreet works concealed in the surroundings. The sculptures use natural processes such as wind and water to create sounds and movements that mimic those in the environment. Only a few minutes’ walk away from Cardiff city centre, the Feeder Canal walk is a world apart, a different time or place. The sculptures acknowledge this particular ambience, highlighting and merging with the natural sights and sounds to create a unique experience (more info).

Location: Docks Feeder Canal, parallel to Schooner Way (Little Venice)
Guided tour 12pm, Saturday 11 October 2014, starting from The ‘Stute’


Radio Nought (Wednesday 15–16 / 22–23 / 29–30 October and 5–6 November 2014, Radio Cardiff 98.7FM, 12am – 2am)

On this late night live radio programme, the lone voice of Samuel Hasler rambles and drones through oddities, clichés and strange tales: an exploration through the twilight zone of Cardiff. Broadcast live, a lone human voice in the night. Transmitted from the far horizons of the unknown, tune in for tales of dark debauchery, jumbled jokes, magnificent myths and experiments in excess, splurges of speech, tinkerings of time, and spooky, spinning space. These are stories of the near future and the distant past; adventures in which you’ll live through a million could-be nights in a thousand may-be cities.

With a rambling structure this set of live, late night, radio broadcasts will borrow heavily from the twilight zone, noir fiction, alternative humour and similar tropes. The broadcasts make use of their late night scheduling, to have freedom from conventional radio and to speculate about the strange types of people that might be listening. The programme is focused on a lone voice that digresses from and repeats a series of oddball autobiographical stories.


Paradise Lost (26 October – 7 November 2014, tactileBOSCH)

ParadiseLost unites established and emerging artists in one of Cardiff’s most iconic disused buildings. Painting, video, installation, sculpture, photography and live performance respond to the unique setting of the Customs and Immigration Building on Bute Street, in a fully immersive art experience organised by the great tactileBOSCH collective in celebration of the memory of Kim Fielding. (more info)

Location: Former Customs & Immigration Building, 56 Bute Street, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5LE, 12 – 5pm
Preview: Saturday 25 October 2014, 7 – 11pm




Bedazzled – A Welshman in New York (29 October – 1 November 2014, Cory Chambers)

Ffotogallery presents Bedazzled, a celebration of the special relationship Dylan Thomas had with the United States (New York in particular), and the enduring influence of his life and work on both sides of the Atlantic. In a series of live performances/installations, audience members are transported back to the 1950s world of bohemian New York where Dylan Thomas’ charisma and dramatic and lyrical use of language left all around him spellbound. Conceived by artistic director/curator David Drake, writer Ben Gwalchmai and composer John Rea (more info) (Facebook event page)

Location: Cory Chambers, 57 Bute Street, CF10 5LE
Tickets £12, concessions available (book at Ffotogallery’s website)



Art Hotel (7/9 November 2014, The Abacus)

The Art Hotel is an all inclusive hotel which specialises in holidays for makers and creators. All guests who stay at our hotel will arrive with a suitcase filled with all the necessities required to turn their hotel room into an art installation. The selected guests will be in residence for one week and on Friday the 7th of November the ArtHotel will open its doors to visitors for the whole weekend.

The public will have the chance to explore the artists suites as well as enjoy the Art Hotel facilities. These include, vacant art suites where you can create your very own piece of art, the lobby where there will be a cocktail bar and lounge area, and on Saturday the 8th of November the Art Hotel will be collaborating with Milgi to put on a supper club with live entertainment from our resident bands and vocal entertainers. Booking is required for the Supper club so please email info@milgilounge.com if you want to reserve a space. (Art Hotel Facebook event)



Like I said, there’s LOADS more on during the next couple of weeks in Cardiff Contemporary – if you’re brave enough, dive into the CC calendar, and if I’ve missed anything that you think looks particularly worthy, let me know in the comments.



Cardiff Contemporary website

Cardiff Contemporary Facebook page



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Snapped Up Market – Furry Little Creatures at the Printhaus

Contributing writer Jodie Ashdown popped along to the Snapped Up Market at the Printhaus to have a go at some activities. Here’s what she got up to!

Printhaus Snapped Up Market

Sitting just off the main street, nestled in between closed hairdressers and Sunday drinkers is a special little place. A place that throws open its doors to the public so that they can print, shop, sew, hammer and drink craft beer to their heart’s content.

And this place is called the Snapped-Up Market.

Occurring quarterly, the Snapped-Up Market is a hands-on experience with activities suitable for adults and children and an overarching theme unique to that particular market. This time the market, which took place on the 6 April 2014, was focused around the theme ‘Furry Little Creatures’. Previous themes have included ‘Heroes & Comix’ and ‘Circus’.

Taking place in the Printhaus workshop on Llandaff Road, the market is a chance for local artists, artisans and generally artistic people to come along and show their wares, as well as giving us less-creative folk the chance to try our hand at making something awesome.

Printhaus Snapped Up Market

Printhaus Snapped Up Market

We are Cardiff headed down on the day to try out a few of the crafts and sample one, maybe two, of the beers.

Snapped Up Market

The atmosphere is immediately uplifting, even in the dreary rainfall of a cloudy April Sunday. Everyone is friendly and relaxed, not just the stallholders and artists but also the customers who meander, coffee in hand, through the workshop under crisscrossed bunting surrounded by original art. The graffiti artwork adorning the outer walls is an accurate indication of the creative hub inside. We decided to have a go at a few of the activities on offer.

First up was Alys from www.thepocketpirate.com. Aside from selling, among other things, handmade cushions, fabric purses and bags, Alys provides you with the opportunity to make a leather purse. The procedure is pretty simple: you choose your leather, cut, mark, stick, sew, chat and then you’re done. A simple but effective project, all for £7.

Jodie at the Printhaus

Next was Lydia who will guide you through making your own silver ring. It’s a satisfying process involving a hammer, acid and a blow torch. For obvious reasons, you have to be over 16 years old but it’s a pretty unique way of hammering out your frustrations and turning them into something beautiful. Lydia also has an array of silver jewellery on sale at the market and also does bespoke designs. Here’s her website: www.niziblian.com.


The printing part of the market came next. The Printhaus ( www.theprinthaus.org ) have a good stock of printing equipment which the team (Nigel, Tom, Jude and Rob) bought after some pretty solid fundraising, which can be used to put designs on all manner of things including t-shirts, tote bags and tea towels. They run courses on site and there’s an option to become a member, meaning that after training and induction you can use the facilities whenever you want for a small fee. They’re a not-for-profit organisation who want to help bridge the gap between school or college to starting a business by providing an art space and all the necessary equipment.


I began my printing escapades with Helen of www.nellystreasures.com who took me through putting a design onto a tea towel. Helen also had a clothing rail and other pretty special knitted items for sale as well as being a dab hand at screen printing. Next to Helen is the kids table where the little ‘uns can get in on the action, I don’t know what they were doing but it definitely sounded like fun.

Snapped Up Market teatowel

Furnished with my special new tea towel, I headed over to the Print Haus guys to pick out a design for my t-shirt and tote bag. The guys will guide you through everything, even the oddly satisfying act of seeing your newly printed t-shirt drop all nice and warm out of the end of the tunnel dryer, it’s slightly akin to freshly baked bread. T-shirts are just £10 including printing and the tote bags are £5.

Snapped Up Market

And there were other activities I didn’t even get round to, not to mention the many stalls and craft tables set up. It is a creative and friendly environment with a real sense of community with an admirable ethos; provide an accessible and open environment in which anyone can learn everything about printing and create one off designs. And not only that, the opportunity is offered to become a member and then display your wares at the Snapped-Up Market. The project is a breath of fresh air from the big brand, high street take over and is one which definitely deserves to be supported.


Run by locals, for locals, supporting locals and good fun for kids and adults. It’s a sweet initiative and something which Cardiff could really do with more of.

The next market is on 6 July – keep an eye on the Printhaus Facebook page for updates – and the theme is Wrestling. I’ll see you there.

Printhaus outside

Printhaus Snapped Up Market

For more information about The Printhaus and all the excellent things they do there…

The Printhaus website

Printhaus Facebook

Snapped Up Market Facebook page – next event 6 July for a wrestling-themed day!


“Layers of memories have grown around my life in Cardiff, like rings on a tree trunk” – Katrina


My Cardiff.

Wet, black and red.

Growing up in London, that’s all I knew of Wales – constant rain, coal-black miners and dismissive comments by adults about red strikers.
And children like me being killed in Aberfan. Altogether a gloomy and dangerous place.

Then 30 years ago I had to come and live here, discovering Cardiff’s bus routes, libraries, supermarkets and DIY stores, its parks and people. Occasionally venturing into the even more threatening ‘valleys’.

The Cardiff NHS saw me through child-birth and the buggy pushed memories into my head as it navigated the streets, parks and shops. And babies brought friendships, but only to a point. My mum wasn’t around to babysit, I couldn’t go shopping with my sister, and my nan did not live round the corner. I shared no school-day memories with the swing-pushers beside me. And keeping up these crucial relationships kept the other mums too busy for an alien like me. We could thrive side by side, but we were different plants, growing from different stock, needing different nutrients.

Zoom past Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, the setting up of the Welsh Assembly and time working as a scientist, housewife, student and artist. Fast forward 30 Christmases, 10,950 days to meet people, four children, 1,560 weekly shops, and one broken marriage and I find Cardiff is my home. It’s the setting for most of my memories, the place I know best, the place I’m always glad to come back to, the place I’d never want to leave. The most constant factor in my life. I’m a fan.

Layers of memories have grown like tree rings. I walk its streets scanning each face, peering beneath the veils of age and discovering people I knew. Where did we meet? Was it…? Or was it….? Or were you…? But I’m sure I know you. And you’re sure that you know me. And one day our blurry memories may release the knowledge that eludes us now.

The streets are like the people – through the connections in my head, I see what my neighbours don’t see – my own good places and bad, my unique portfolio of connections.

But Cardiff doesn’t just hold the ghosts of the past. It constantly surprises me. Each time I walk down the hill, where I live, the light highlights something different. And I wonder how it’s taken me 30 years to see it. It’s familiar, yet unfamiliar. I can walk my local patch a different way each day.

It’s the same with people. Different circles suddenly reveal links I didn’t dream of, yet there are always new circles to explore. An unlimited source of new opportunities, new encounters, new possibilities for re-inventing yourself, new things to do. It’s big enough to vanish in, but small enough for cosiness.

I wouldn’t claim to be Cardiffian though. There are vast tranches of it where I never tread. Territorial, I fear to tiptoe beyond the boundary of my patch into the threatening unknown, as though I wore a label, “Alien, please target”. And after all, I haven’t read the Echo enough to be Cardiffian and I’ve worked in the valleys so much I’ve grown to love them too.

What am I then? Whatever my accent, I’m utterly, totally certain I’m not English. I don’t fit in over there. I’ve had 30 years without England and Wales has rooted in me, opening my mind, challenging my thinking, re-jigging my understanding, giving me a place to grow. I’d gladly be considered Welsh. Wet, black and red? How wrong can people be?

Katrina Kirkwood is now a digital and storytelling artist. She arrived here a very long time ago as a scientist working in medical research, turned into a mother, then an art student and now loves meeting an incredible variety of people throughout South Wales with her story-making work. You can find out more at her website, www.katrinakirkwood.org. Katrina lives in Penylan and makes a game of NOT having her photo taken.

Katrina was photographed in Roath recreation ground by Adam Chard