Tag Archives: blog about roath

“This is still the place I want to be” – James

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This is the place…

I’ve always thought there are two types of home: the one you have, and the one you want. Roath was definitely the latter for me. I moved here from Stoke in 2002 and straight away it felt right. In a short space of time I met an incredible group of friends, and this, together with my love of the city, gave me a sense of belonging. Aged 23 I thought this is the place I want to be.

Recently I’ve begin to question the choice I made 10 years ago. There are those friends who move away to bigger cities – some come back, some don’t. And there are those who never make the journey and ask themselves that meaningless question, what if? Big cities are naturally more conducive to creativity, offer more opportunities, and provide a bigger network to plug yourself into to find out what sparks, if any, may fly. Of course, you know this, but still, what if?

When I find myself thinking about this, I put on my running shoes and go to the one place I love more than any other in Cardiff – a home within a home – the Rec (aka the Roath Recreation Ground). I must have run, and walked, around this small park hundreds of times, and spent countless hours there lying under rare summer sun until my pale skin turns pink. It’s hard to convey why I love it – after all it’s just a park – bit if pressed I would say it’s a combination of the space and the skies above it. I’ve seen the most amazing sunsets, and formations of clouds and light, over the Rec. It may sound pretentious, but I feel like those skies have sheltered me over the years whenever I’ve been feeling low.

The final key ingredient that makes the Rec so great is the people who inhabit it. On any one night you can watch people playing rounders, rugby, football, cricket, or just reading, talking, and drinking until the sun goes down. It’s a reminder of how vibrant and eclectic this city is – I remember seeing one football game where each player wore the football top of their country of origin and no 2 shirts were alike. Having a garden is a luxury, but it’s not essential in Roath, as there is always the Rec.

When I’ve finished my run I always turn off my iPod and walk across the width of the Rec towards the Community Centre. I don’t think about work the next day, or what I’m going to do when I get home. I try not to think at all. Instead I just listen to the evening and look around me. It always gives me a sense of calm, and reminds me of how lucky I am to have this on my doorstep. Moments like this brush away all of my doubts and reaffirms that this is still the place I want to be.

James Nee works for The Festivals Company (where he directs the occasional promo and is the Director of ffresh) and is the creator of ernest – a collective of artists based in Roath who make short films and sketches. He currently lives in Roath.

James was photographed on Roath Recreation Ground by Jon Pountney

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“I need to be in a place where people are friendly and everything’s on your doorstep” – Jessica

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I have lived in Cardiff since I was born. I was never very adventurous in a travelling sense and stayed here to do my Foundation Course in Art & Design, and then for my degree in Graphic Communication. I can’t say I’ve ever regretted it. In fact I probably made the best decision. All through university we were told that London was the place to be for new designers. I frankly had a bit of a panic, because London is just so daunting to me.

I need to be in a place where people are friendly and everything’s on your doorstep. I know Cardiff like the back of my hand because I’ve lived in most areas. I was born in Pontcanna, lived in Ely for a bit, then in Grangetown, Llanishen, Llandaff, Thornhill, and when my mother decided to move out into the country I stayed and continued my tour, moving to Penarth, Cardiff Bay and finally Roath, where I mingled with my fellow students and loved every minute.

I met my partner not long after starting university and we’ve never moved from Roath. We now live in the heart of Roath and there’s so much to do. It’s amazing. The galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, awesome little independent quirky shops and funky bars are in abundance – not forgetting Roath Park. It’s just such a lively place to live and we’re lucky to have a number of friends all living in the same area.

We’re always popping to The Pear Tree on Wellfield Road for a cheeky drink, and mingling with the locals at The Claude or The Albany. We’re both also really lucky to work in the area and I count myself even luckier to be able to work for myself from home. I’ve worked in the design industry since graduating in 2009 and I’ve done everything from designing Christmas wrapping paper (all year round) to mobile application design for iPhones and iPads. Now I’m freelance and work from the comfort and convenience of my little studio under the name Jessica Draws. As I have the time, I’m getting involved in the community as best as I can. I’m in talks to supply some craft shops with my handmade greetings cards that I currently sell online and I am also involved in The Sho Gallery’s summer exhibition Art Flare (on Inverness Place), where I am displaying some illustrative prints and cards which are also for sale. My next stop hopefully is to be involved in the new St Mary’s Street Market and Roath’s Saturday Craft market. I’ve got lots of plans and I’m still getting in touch with local businesses to over my branding and marketing services.

It’s not just Cardiff that’s getting some Jessica Draws shoved in its face. I love to draw and it’s what keeps me cheerful, and so the illustrations I do aren’t always for clients. Some recent work I created for fun around the recent Marvel film releases was featured on some prominent online blogs (here and here), which triggered some awesome responses and a few commissions (now available in my etsy shop too).

Drawing is what I do and I like to think of myself as re-designing the world, one illustration at a time.

Jessica Donnan (also know as Jessica Draws) is a freelance designer and illustrator. Since graduating in 2009, she has worked in many areas of the design industry. Check out her online shop where you can find lots of goodies, and have a gander at her blog, where she posts giveaways, competitions and her latest news.

Jessica was photographed at The Pear Tree in Roath by Ffion Matthews

 

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“It all began for me with my first exhibition at Milgi” – SnowSkull

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Despite not growing up in the “bright lights” of Cardiff I have always felt drawn to the city with its many different cultures – this is where I found my feet so to speak.

From a young age I’ve always been interested in all forms of art. After school was art college, where my interests also took me into music, through someone I met who is still a very good friend. Our friendship influenced me to be one of the founding members of bands such as Funeral For A Friend, From This Moment On and Dignity Dies First. This in turn led us to touring the UK including Cardiff venues Clwb Ifor Bach, Barfly and The Point (both since disappeared). Also parts of Europe in the back of tour vans – which still hold fond memories today and the amazing people I have met along the way who have helped to shape my life. I love an array of different styles of music and I believe that all music is one – there’s simply good and bad in every genre.

Through music I found poetry and philosophy, which in turn has developed me into an abstract artist known as “SnowSkull”, so-called after one of my favorite poets Gregory Corso and influenced by such artists as Picasso, Basquiat and Jesse Reno.

My plan is to delve into other aspects of art to experiment and showcase the alternative contemporary art scene which is already established in Cardiff with the likes of Chapter Arts, Project Ten and Tactile Bosch (to name a few), and independent galleries like The Sho and G39.

But it all began for me with my first exhibition at Milgi – a vegetarian art cafe run by sisters Rebecca and Gabby Kelly. It was these two young women who gave me the opportunity to showcase my art and I will be forever greatful for their help and continued friendship. You’re always sure to have a good welcome at Milgi’s – friendly staff, good organic food and a homely atmosphere. You can even pick up a bargain at the Northcote Lane Market, held at the Milgi warehouse on the first Sunday of every month, which also hosts anything from exhibitions to comedy shows and workshops. The Kelly sisters are very supportive of the local art scene, as they were when they co-ran the Cardiff Arts Institute with Kaptin and Matt the Hat.

Although only open for a couple of years, I loved the C.A.I. It was like a second home to me. I remember nights when there were sometimes just me, Kaptin and the bar staff watching great producers such as Ital Tek, Linton Brown & Pangaea who have all gone on to greater things since their Cardiff appearances. Word of mouth soon spread and before we knew, it was a thriving community where music art and friends came together on a regular basis, kind of like ‘The Hacienda meets Cheers’. Just before Cardiff Arts changed hands I was asked to paint a mural on one of the walls – of which I am still very proud of. Unfortunately, due to new ownership, my art is gone, along with the good times and bad hangovers.

Six months on I feel that Cardiff is not the same without the Arts Institute. It’s a shame because it seems that only commercial bars have the capacity to stay afloat. I have met people from all walks of life who have left their mark on me in some way or another. A big influence on my life is Kaptin – for me, one of the biggest personalities in Cardiff. He lives and breathes music and alongside local producers Stagga & Monky are known as the Chrome Kids – a family that I have recently joined. Chrome Kids are an electronic music and art collective. Our aim is to put on nights showcasing local talent. We also do a fortnightly month radio show on Radio Cardiff, generating an average audience of approx 500, but our intentions are to widen the spectrum.

I currently have a studio for my artwork at Warwick Hall. I share the building with an abundance of talent which varies from painters, photographers, ceramicists, graphic designers and installation artists who are coming together with plans to put on events and shows.

Music, art and poetry run through my veins and I have future projects involving all three. If I didn’t live in Cardiff I would never have had the opportunities I’ve had, or met the people who have influenced me. Who knows what the future holds – but at the moment I am happy to be living in Our Nation’s Capital – ‘Cardiff’.

SnowSkull is an abstract neo-expressionist painter and is part of the Chrome Kids family, Sleep Walk collective, DSY and The Nines. His hobbies include listening, looking, touching things and dreaming. Keep up to date on future shows and works at www.snowskull.blogspot.com or on Facebook or on Twitter @snowskullartist. He currently lives in Roath.

SnowSkull was photographed at his studio in Warwick Hall by Simon Ayre

 

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