Tag Archives: cardiff arcades project

Walking Cardiff’s arcades

Cardiff’s arcades are definitely a hallmark of a city shopping experience. Given the strong concentration of Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary arcades in the city centre, Cardiff was known to some as the City of Arcades (this is according to WalesOnline though, so take all the salt you deem necessary with that claim).

Whatever is in the name, Cardiff’s arcades are amongst its finest features. I used to work in a shop in the High Street Arcade back in the early 2000s, and most of my lunch hours were spent wandering the holy trinity of High Street Arcade, Castle Arcade and Indoor Market. People-watching is at a premium in such locations – as too is the architecture, if you remember to look up.

Contributor Rob Khoo stepped out in the arcades recently to furnish us with some classy black and whites.







Rob says: “I had a nice sunny Sunday afternoon with little to do; so a delicious lunch in The Vegetarian Food Studio followed by a wander into town and then up and down the arcades whilst trying not to spend any money. A difficult task when there are so many great independent shops there, managed to get away with it though – just! Great to see so much going on in the Hayes too, Hijinx Theatre were doing a fine job of entertaining the shoppers, and the plant stall was lovely as well.”

If our antique arcades have piqued your interest, there are the following links you might want to visit:
Photographer Amy Davies spent some time a few years back wandering around our arcades and documenting them. The result is this lovely blog: Cardiff Arcades Project. It’s a few years old now but a great resource.
If you’re of an artistic bent, check out Jennie Savage’s Arcades Project: A 3D documentary. It was a series of projects initiated by artist Jennie Savage which took place in Cardiff’s Victorian and Edwardian Arcades between October 2008 and October 2009. Cardiff is known as the city of Arcades because it has the highest concentration of Victorian and Edwardian Shopping arcades in the UK. Between 2008-2009 artist Jennie Savage led an exploration into these spaces, inspired by Walter Benjamin’s Arcades project and constructed in the light of the St David’s 2 Shopping Centre.

Aaaand if you’re just after plain and simple tourist advice, have a look at the Visit Cardiff site.


Behind the camera: Amy Davies

You may have noticed that the We Are Cardiff website features some rather wonderful photography. We’ve decided to run a series of posts introducing you to our photographers, who volunteer their time to keep this website looking as amazing as possible. So please meet a lady who makes this all possible – the lovely Amy Davies!


Give us one reason why Cardiff is an ace place to live

Cardiff is an ace place to live because it’s small enough to get around most places super quick, but also big enough to have loads of different things to do. I love the beauty of the place, and that includes things that people don’t seem to notice, like the architecture, the roofs of buildings and so on. I’ve lived here for seven years now and still see things I’ve never noticed before on a weekly basis.

Favourite place to eat out in Cardiff

Ummm… I don’t know if I have a favourite place to eat, I’m not a massive foodie, but I do like to pick up fun things from Wally’s Deli of course. I’ve been impressed by the performance of the Potted Pig and I’m really thrilled for them… although it does mean I can’t get a table even though I live next door (literally!).

Favourite shop in Cardiff

My favourite shop changes from day to day, I’m a big fan of The Pen and Paper though as I love craft and the owner there has helped me with various things – including finding some sticks and sawing them up for me during a mad project to create props for a photobooth party I was having… so props to him!

Best Cardiff memory

I’ve got so many Cardiff memories, it’s hard to pick one. I had such a blast doing my postgraduate degree here though and I’ve made friends for life through that course. I also met my boyfriend here and now even though I work over in England I can’t bring myself to leave this wonderful city… too many memories to go into really!

Favourite books

I’m ashamed to say that I’m always so busy reading magazines and blogs etc (partly for work and also for pleasure) that my book reading has gone downhill in recent years. I’ve got a lot of craft books on the go though, my favourite one is probably the Everything Alice: Wonderland Book of Makes.

Favourite recent films

I’m probably more of a TV person (love my American dramas… hello Mad Men season 5!), but I am unashamed to admit that I’m really looking forward to watching Titanic 3D… I saw that three times at the cinema when I was 11, it’ll be great to see it on the big screen again, haha!

Band/s that you’re into

I firmly believe I was probably born in the wrong decade as I spend very little time listening to modern music and a lot of time listening to a variety of bands from the 60s-80s. The Beatles are a really cliche answer, but I do love them. I’m also very much into Northern Soul and Motown … impossible to pick a favourite!

Any personal projects that you want to big up?

I’m always working on the Cardiff Arcades Project … I’ve had my ups and downs with that, but I’m still keen to keep it going. I want to have a solo exhibition and a book … but of course it all takes time (and money), which I’m short of at the moment… one day, one day …

What camera do you use? Any favoured lenses for portrait photoshoots like the We Are Cardiff shoots?

I’m very lucky that because of my job I use all kinds of different cameras on a weekly basis. I own a Canon 60D and an Olympus PEN E-P3 though. With my 60D I have a 50mm f/1.4, 60mm f/2.8 macro, 10-20 Sigma and 30mm f/1.4 Sigma lens. However, recently I’ve been shooting with a Nikon D800, Nikon D4 and Canon 5D Mark III (which a couple of my WAC shoots were done with). Like I say… I’m very lucky!

Most memorable We Are Cardiff photoshoot?

One of my favourite shoots was with Sarah, who I photographed on the roof of St David’s Car Park. It was one of my favourites because I’d never been up there before. Other than that, I also enjoyed Rachel Kinchin’s shoot (not published yet) because she’s just so damn pretty! 🙂

Thanks Amy! More on Amy Davies here: web / Arcades Project / twitter




“Find yourself feeling very proud to be a Cardiffian” – Alistair

Alistair Stuart

My name is Alistair and this is my ode to Cardiff. Well, as close to an ode as an amateur like myself can get.

I have lived near or in Cardiff for most of my life. I grew up in Cowbridge, approximately 14 miles away, and in those hazy days of childhood, Cardiff was the proverbial “Big City”; shimmering (in places), noisy and just a little bit scary. Now I come to think of it, Cardiff has seen me through some pretty important junctures in my life. It has witnessed my darker days of dodgy student attire, misguided boyfriend selections and many a questionable home dye job! It has nurtured me through adolescence, the university years and now my current incarnation as a “young professional”- whatever that means!

The great thing about a place like Cardiff is that there is literally something for everyone. Granted, that is a worn-out expression, but in this case it truly applies. Whether you’re a lover of vintage goods, farmers markets, art house cinema, filthy nights out, fine food, not-so-fine food or shopping- oh! the shopping- Cardiff has it all. I know what you’re thinking; most cities in Britain do have it all these days, but my response to that is that not many other cities have achieved that elusive blend of cosmopolitan edge and homeliness that Cardiff has.

My partner and I recently began an illustration and design enterprise, the first few months of which were spent selling our wares at craft fetes and gift markets around the city. Despite the early mornings and lugging around of heavy boxes I was both thrilled and inspired by the amount on home-grown talent on show. I encourage every resident of Cardiff to visit the many events taking place around the city as much as possible – my particular favourite is the Joie de Vivre market at the Norwegian church which offers up a variety of Welsh-made products in one of the most charismatic venues in Cardiff.

Cardiff continues to evolve and, I think, improve; and whilst there are always emerging attractions there are also hidden gems that occasionally fling themselves into your path. Jacob’s Antique Market, Madame Fromage delicatessan and Milgi’s bar are all places I stumbled across by chance, invariably using the expression “How did I not know about this place sooner?” Now they are amongst my favourite haunts.

Of course, like most things in life, Cardiff is not all champagne and roses – it certainly has its dingier regions – but in all honesty our fair city would not be the same without them and their absence would detract from its eclectic charm. Waxing lyrical, you say? Yes, but I mean every word.

After reading this I hope you take a moment or two to wonder at the magnificence of our capital city, kick back with a cocktail (or your tipple of choice) and find yourself feeling very proud to be a Cardiffian.

Alistair Stuart is a freelance illustrator, avid dickie-bow wearer and proud parent of Slightly Wobbly Designs www.slightlywobbly.co.uk.  He lives with his boyfriend, Jonny, in Cardiff Bay.

Alistair was photographed at Madame Fromage in the Castle Arcade by Amy Davies.
See all the photos from Ali’s photoshoot on Amy’s blog.

Did you know that We Are Cardiff are making a film about our project? It’s about all the lovely things that happen in the city over the course of 2012. If you’re sick of bad press about the city, why not donate just £3 to help us make a lovely film we can all be proud of? Donate money here or check the film’s blog here




‘I’ve loved Cardiff’s arcades for as long as I can remember’ – Amy


It took me five years to fall in love with Cardiff. Maybe I’d been in love with it from day one, there was certainly some kind of mysterious force keeping me here. But I only realised how hard I’d fallen a few months ago.

I’m not a native Cardiffian. I’m not even Welsh (although for some time I did believe I had Welsh grandparents…). I moved here for the same reason I imagine many thousands do – university.

The strangest part about my decision to move to Cardiff was that I’d never even visited the city before I agreed to come and live here. It just seemed like the right thing to do. So up I rocked on day one, no clue where anything was, no clue about the history of the place, just sureity that this was where I was meant to be – and thankfully, I was oh so right.

Fast forward five and a bit years (and it really does feel like fast forward) and I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else. Even after I graduated and got a job in Bath, 50 miles away, I took the decision to commute rather than move. Now, while commuting has the odd strange benefit, believe it or not, it’s not exactly a picnic, so what is it about this place that still keeps me in its clutches?

I probably don’t need to tell anybody reading this about the many marvels of Cardiff, but I think it’s only now that I’m not a student and I actually spend a lot less time here than I used to, that I really appreciate it for what it is.

I’ve ended up with a city centre flat surrounded, pretty much, by all the things I love. I have the wonderful Bute Park only a few minutes round the corner, the magnificent Castle is opposite and the extra special Victorian and Edwardian Arcades line the street I live on – I couldn’t really ask for more.

The funny thing is, a lot of the places that I love, I didn’t really discover until after I’d made the decision to stay here after graduation. It sounds blasphemous, but it took me until last year to discover Wally’s – if you can believe that – I’d walked past it a few times but for god knows what insane reason not been in. Jacob’s Antiques, just behind Central station is another place that I often find myself in on a lazy Saturday afternoon, shamefully again something I’d seen from the train window a million and one times before I actually went in.

I could go on (and on) and list a thousand other great places, but I simply wouldn’t have time, because there’s too many, and you probably already know about them. Suffice to say, now that I know what I’d be missing out on if I left, I’m more in love with the place than ever before, and I also know there are so many more gems that I’ve probably also missed just waiting for me to explore.

It’s my love of all things Cardiff that led to the sudden lightning bolt of inspiration I had just the other night. I’ve been taking part in a Project 365, where you take one photo a day for a year, when I casually strolled into the Morgan Arcade one evening looking for that day’s picture. I’ve loved the arcades for as long as I can remember, and I think it’s fantastic that there’s a place that’s so uniquely Cardiff literally on my doorstep.

I tweeted that it might be a cool idea to do a photography project based entirely around the arcades and since then it has snowballed, there’s been a lot of interest and it’s now a full-blown project. So now you see, I really can’t leave, because I’m committed now to seeing through my Arcades project develop into something that I can be proud of, and it’s hopefully something that other people will get a lot of enjoyment out of.

So that’s my story, in a very tiny nutshell. I wonder what else Cardiff will ensnare me with over the coming years? Whatever it is… I can’t wait to find out.

Amy Davies is a journalist and photographer living in Cardiff city centre. Having moved to Cardiff 5-and-a-bit years ago for University, and never having the decency to leave, she now calls it home. During the day she boards the train of fun for her daily commute to Bath working on a photography website, and most of the rest of the time she’s either taking photos, writing things, baking cakes or a combination of all three. Visit the Cardiff Arcades Project website for more details on her latest project of insanity.

Amy was photographed at Cardiff Castle by Adam Chard