Tag Archives: portrait photography

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World – portraits by Lorna Cabble

The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition takes place every two years in Cardiff, when 20 of the finest classical singers at the start of their careers come to the capital of Wales, hoping to win this prestigious singing competition.

Cardiff Singer of the World contestants

You can find more information about the competition here: BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

We sent photographer Lorna Cabble along to take some portraits of the contestants …

Amartuvshin Enkhbat - Mongolia
Amartuvshin Enkhbat – Mongolia
Anaïs Constans - France
Anaïs Constans – France
Aviva Fortunata - Canada
Aviva Fortunata – Canada
Bass Sebastian Pilgrim - Germany
Bass Sebastian Pilgrim – Germany
Blaise Malaba - Congo
Blaise Malaba – Congo
Céline Forrest - Wales
Céline Forrest – Wales
Ilker Arcayürek - Turkey
Ilker Arcayürek – Turkey
Ingeborg Gillebo - Norway
Ingeborg Gillebo – Norway
Insu Huang - South Korea
Insu Huang – South Korea
J'nai Bridges - America
J’nai Bridges – America
Jaeyoon Jung - South Korea
Jaeyoon Jung – South Korea
Jongmin Park - South Korea
Jongmin Park – South Korea
Kelebogile Besong - South Africa
Kelebogile Besong – South Africa
Lauren Michelle - America
Lauren Michelle – America
Marina Pinchuk - Belarus
Marina Pinchuk – Belarus
Nadine Koutcher - Belarus
Nadine Koutcher – Belarus
Nico Darmanin - Malta
Nico Darmanin – Malta
Regula Mühlemann - Switzerland
Regula Mühlemann – Switzerland


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Yet more of those Humans of Cardiff

humans of cardiff

The Humans of Cardiff project that Wales Online are running has been posting some lovely pics of Cardiff residents out and about in the city. Here are some of my recent favs!

“I’m a nanny. I’m really passionate about bringing up children, nurturing their soul and their creativity, bringing up the next generation properly, with love, care, you know, not being stuck in front of a TV.”
“We’ve known each other for 13 years and like to live life to the full. We would advise each other to never change.”
“My earliest memory is looking at Sydney Harbour Bridge.”
“In my childhood I had a fear of darkness. Not any more but I have bad memories of darkness. I was left home alone when I was a little girl and I was scared a lot, you know, just for a couple of minutes. It was nothing serious, but it left something.”
“I’ve lived in Cardiff for eight years. I love the people. The local police always come and visit me because they love me. They come over for tea.”
“I’ve always wanted to jump out of a plane! I’m the least athletic or sporty person ever, but I think it would be quite freeing.”
“I’ve got little Cavalier dogs that I rescue. I’ve got one called Rosie and she adores feathers. She’ll play with these for hours.”
“I’ve played football with John Hartson.”
“My old man lives in America, but he’s back next week. We haven’t been together in Cardiff since 2009.”
“This is my nephew. He makes you laugh, he makes you smile. If he wakes you up at six or seven in the morning, that’s fine, I’m more than happy for him to do so. He’s the light of our world… and I hope he doesn’t grow up.”
“The biggest struggle I had to go through was my nan dying. I’m still grieving about that now. My life has got pretty rough since then as well. My stepdad became ill, he had to have a triple bypass and a kidney transplant. He’s still rough, he’s on tablets but hopefully soon he’ll be able to get back into work.”
“Back in the eighties the Hell’s Angels used to run the fly posting and they used to do it through violence. “And then all the hippies started to hit back and, you know, got rid of them. “Then a lot of councils started legalising it and actually making a profit on it. “So, you know, none of us have to run around being chased by coppers anymore.”
“I was standing on a crate trying to paint a little corner and I fell backwards, went to protect myself from falling, fractured my finger and tore some of the ligaments in my shoulder. “But it’s okay ‘cos we’ve got cricket now for the next six weeks. I’m an avid cricket fan so it gives me an excuse in front of my missus to say ‘Aww, I’ll watch the cricket then’.”
“I’ve been coming to this park for the best part of 65 years. I used to come here when the Taff swim was on. I used to come down and watch it. I never understood how they didn’t catch anything, it wasn’t the cleanest water in those days.”








The Humans of Cardiff!

humans of cardiff

Inspired by the Humans of New York project, a couple of months back Wales Online started their own photography project with snaps of people on the streets of the city of Cardiff. They’ve posted some lovely pictures with nice snippets of stories from people around the city.

You can see the full project on Facebook, but here are a couple of my favourites from the site so far. Click the images to go through to the site:

“When I grow up, I want to be a ballerina”


“My mate a caught a big bass half hour ago, but he won’t be in a photo. I’ll show you.”

“I am exactly where I wanted to be five years ago.”

“I’m a seaman. I’ve been here 53 years. The most frightened I got was in a hurricane, or a gale, at sea y’know?”

“I work in a bar in town. Last year we had a very, very drunk old man try to come in carrying a plastic bag with a fish inside. The bouncer said he couldn’t come in as he was too drunk – and he had a fish. The man stormed off and left the fish with the bouncer. We kept him in a bowl we used to keep the tea bags in and named him Owain. He doesn’t get out much, bless him.”

“Statues don’t speak.”


“People should be more open minded, we should judge on personalities.”

“The best thing we’ve done? Jumping 20 feet into a river. No, that’s not the best thing, I got earache!”
“We’re going coasteering next week.”
“We are adrenalin junkies!”

“I’ve lived here for two years so I’m going on a walking tour to learn about the city.
“Having the time to learn makes me happy… and good coffee.”


The Humans of Cardiff website 

100 Strangers Project Cardiff – Just Ard

Recently I came across the 100 Strangers Project on Flickr. It’s a group described as “a learning group intended for those wishing to improve both their social and technical skills needed for taking portraits of strangers and telling their stories … The challenge: Take at least 100 photographs of 100 people you don’t know. Approach anyone or a group of people, ask for permission to both take a photo of them and to post it to this group. Get to know your stranger/s. Who are they? What is their life like?”

Pretty great project, no? As half of what gets posted on We Are Cardiff is portrait photography, I thought this was a great idea for people interested in photography to get some portraits under their belts. I found a lovely set of 100 Strangers photographs posted by a local photographer who goes by the name of Just Ard (or Wayne, presumably to his mum). His photographs – along with descriptions – are posted below, for your viewing and reading pleasure, along with a Q&A with him at the end. Helia

Gerry #1 100 Strangers

Gerry is the first person in my 100 Strangers Project.

I met Gerry in Costa Coffee in Caerphilly, Wales. I was sitting alone and he asked if the seat opposite was free. He was pleased to sit by the window. He had popped in for a coffee whilst his wife was shopping. He was quite chatty, and we had a good conversation about pubs in the valleys and different real ales. A TV cabling engineer during his working life, he is retired now. I asked if he would mind if I took a few shots and explained the project, and he was pleased to oblige. I didn’t want to take him away from his coffee so I took the shots in situ.


Peter #2 100 Strangers

Peter is the second person in my 100 Strangers Project. I was walking along the Hayes in Cardiff, looking around me for my first shot of the day. I noticed Peter sitting on a bench with his little dog by him. I thought he would make a good subject for my strangers project. I approached him and asked if I could take his photo. He replied with “You thought to yourself he’s a good character to take a photo of, did you?” I had to admit yes, and that he stood out among the people that were walking around us. We both nodded. “Go on then,” he said.

I ran off a few shots, then he asked me if I would like to have a few shots with Queenie, his dog in. I took a few shots of them both. When I finished, I gave Peter my card and in return Peter gave me one of his, explaining he was there on business, and deals in Militaria, so as a thank you to him, I have put a link to his site here.


Priya #3 100 Strangers

Priya is the third person in my 100 Strangers Project. I was walking along Working Street in Cardiff, not long after taking a shot of my second Stranger, when Priya smiled across at me, so I went towards him. I have seen Priya in Cardiff before in the same area. He is a monk and uses his time to collect for charitable causes. He opened the conversation with “Have I spoken with you before?” I replied “Yes”. “Ah, I remember,” he said “You said to me, “You are a wonderful Monk, and I would love to donate.” I said “Nah, definitely the wrong person.” We chatted for a while, then I asked him if he would allow me to take his photo. I explained the project and he was very interested. I took a few shots, thanked him, then left him to continue with his work.

Thank you Priya, it was a pleasure talking with you, and always is watching you approach people and put a smile on their faces.


Philip #4 100 Strangers

Philip is the fourth person in my 100 Strangers Project. I first saw Philip as he walked out of St John’s Churchyard Gardens in the centre of Cardiff, to the area outside the Indoor Market carrying a film camera on a tripod. He was with two lovely young women, one of whom was carrying a large microphone. They set up their camera, which Philip was operating, and began encouraging people to talk on camera. I took a few shots of this and left them to carry on whilst I went on a wander for a while.

When I walked back around they had moved along and were setting up again, and interviewed a few people and I got a couple more shots. When it went quiet I approached them and asked what they were filming for. They explained they were doing Vox Pops about who people thought would win the Rugby 6 Nations Competition. They asked me who I thought would win. Fancy asking a Welshman! I replied “Italy…No Chance”, and laughed, then said “England…Not, Ireland”, and they stopped me and pleaded that I do that on camera. I agreed and, at the time the camera was on me forgot what I had actually said, but said something along those lines, and obviously finishing with Wales of course.

When I finished, I asked them what they were filming for and they are in Cardiff University studying for Masters Degrees in Journalism. It was really fun watching them work to encourage people to get in front of the camera. I decided to ask Philip if he would allow me to take his photo, as he seemed the wildest of the three of them. They were all bubbly, but, sorry girls it was his smile. I explained to them about the 100 Strangers, and it was at that point that I found out that Philip is from Uganda.

The photos started with a sort of pose, nothing to do with me, but what Philip adopted to a fun face then to the standard portrait. I decided to use this shot, the fun shot, as I think it shows how I saw Philip. I hope you can see his character through this.


Irmak #5 100 Strangers

Irmak is the fifth person in my 100 Strangers Project. I first saw the lovely Irmak taking photos of St John’s Church in the centre of Cardiff. With her was Penache. I took a couple of shots of her taking photos. They saw me and spoke to each other and smiled. They went around the church and Irmak continued taking photos. I was wandering in the same direction.

As they walked outside the Indoor Market, still taking photos I approached Irmak and explained about the 100 Strangers Project and asked if I could take her photo. She hadn’t heard of Flickr, but Penache had. I think Irmak and Penache to a degree had trouble understanding my Welsh accent, and they spoke between themselves, but I couldn’t work out what language they were speaking in. Irmak agreed to have her photo taken but Penache didn’t want to.

I took some shots and showed them to Irmak. She asked me to take some more, which I did and on reviewing them, asked that I use the one you see. I asked where she was from and it was Turkey. A town called Bursa, which is south of Istanbul. She was on holiday and staying with Penache and returning home on Monday.

Q&A with Wayne Lovatt, aka Just Ard

Q. What’s your Cardiff connection?
A. I was born and raised in Fairwater, Cardiff, hence my affiliation to the city. I moved to Pontypridd in my early twenties and have lived there now for over 30 years. Apart from a three year period, I’ve always worked in Cardiff, so have stayed familiar with how it has changed over the years. If we go back about 45 years ago, I know the streets in the centre of Cardiff had become slums, with no bathrooms and outside toilets, whole communities were moved from Newtown (what is now part of the centre of Cardiff), and the Docks area, to the new estates of Pentrebane, Llanederyn and Pentwyn. Moving all the communities out to the new estates on the outskirts of Cardiff ripped the centre apart. Over many years since, the centre has changed, and is now just a commercial centre, without the character of what it once was. The main commercial centre has grown outwards. You have to go outside it to see anything like the Old Cardiff, areas such as Splott, Roath, Grangetown, Riverside, everything that skirts the centre.

Q. Tell us about your background in photography.
A. I first studied photography in school, many years ago now, where I learned to develop and process my own photographs. Over the years other interests came along, though I did keep a little interest in photography. Then about two years ago a work colleague and friend, who was really enjoying his photography and using Flickr spurred my interest. From that point I started to find focus. In June 2012 I decided to try some new technology and invested in a Nikon D7000. Wow what an upgrade. My main focus through 2012 was flowers, which was the same in 2013. Then, came street photography.

Q. Street photography? Go on…
A. I was on Holiday with my wife in Falmouth September 2013. We found ourselves on the streets of Falmouth where there were  lots of characters, a great photographic opportunity. On returning home, I took a look at others work on Flickr who shoot people  on the street. I really liked the work of Leanne Boulton, a photographer from Glasgow, and contacted her for advice, with which she was so helpful. We still keep in  contact. A big influence to me was Thomas Leuthard, a Swiss photographer.

Why do I shoot street photography? It gives such a buzz. In a way it takes over and you have to have your fix. I
suppose some people would call my work “Street Portraiture”, but like with any labels, you restrict people to limits. You have to use the element of surprise. If someone sees you they automatically, without even thinking change either their stance, expression, look away or smile when all you want is to catch them naturally in their

If we look back through time we see old photographs of the rich and famous. Before that drawings and paintings of
Kings, Queens and nobility, but so little is known about the “man in the street”. If you look at those old photos, the best ones are not the Lord sitting posing, but the farrier hard at work, covered in dirt and sweat, with the steam billowing from the horseshoe as he plunges it into the water, or the miners and their families on a charabanc outing. Ordinary people doing ordinary everyday things. This genre of photography also gives me time to study
how people behave in different environments, and also to see what is around me and not just to look.

Q. Any advice for budding street photographers out there?
A. If I have any advice for others, the first would be to get a Flickr account. Things have changed on Flickr over the last year, but whichever way you look at it, you get 1 Terabyte of FREE space to store your photos. That is one hell of a lot of photos. Check out the “Street” groups on flickr, you will be amazed at how people interpret the genre, and the terrific levels of skill and art there is. Then put that into your head and get out on the streets and shoot away. The only way you will progress is to shoot. Don’t worry about the length of the lens. If you feel nervous use a longer lens until you feel more comfortable, I did, I started with a Sigma 70- 200mm zoom, then onto a Sigma 105mm, but now on nearly every shot use my Nikon 85mm, because that is what suits me. Remember you take these shots to please one person: yourself.

To see more of Just Ard’s work, visit his website, Tumblr, Flickr or his publications.

“There is so much to be inspired by in Cardiff” – Rosie

Rosie Oxley

I’ve lived in Cardiff for almost 17 years… just under half my life so far (I’m 35). There is so much to be inspired by…

Almost wherever you are in Cardiff you can see the hills of the valleys to the north and the Bristol Channel to the south. As the Capital city of Wales, there are a wealth of cultural landmarks, civic buildings and tourist attractions.

My father Andrew Fitton is an Artist by occupation. He studied at Cambridge College of Art from 1967 to 1969 and later Swansea Art School from 1969 to 1972.

Andrew has produced art through his working life. He has painted a number of views of his favourite places in Cardiff. Many of these are iconic views of our city.

Andrew’s influences include Paul Cezanne (1839 – 1906) and two artists influenced by Impressionism… Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880 – 1938) and Robert Delauney (1885 – 1941) The Impressionist style is much loved for it’s use of vibrant colour, subjectivity and depiction of outdoor views with the artist’s own individual responses and creativity incorporated into the work.

I’ve been inspired to set up ‘Impressions of Cardiff (and Swansea) a business bringing together his artwork in an online gallery, and selling a range of Giclees, greetings cards and gifts featuring images from his art. www.impressionsofcardiffandswansea.org.uk

The title reflects the influence of the Impressionist Art style on Andrew’s work, and also the fact that the art hopefully gives a good impression of the locations depicted…!

Individually and together, the paintings offer an excellent depiction of some of Cardiff’s most iconic locations which are significant to the city’s culture, heritage and social life.

Some favourites are…

Andrew’s painting ‘An Impressionist View of Cardiff Castle’ offers a unique depiction of this tourist attraction, and symbol of Cardiff’s heritage.

‘The Hayes Island Cafe’ portrays the popular venue in the heart of the City Centre, and shows people visiting the cafe and sitting at tables outdoors in the Hayes.

Andrew’s view of ‘Castle Arcade’ highlights it’s Victorian style architecture, boutique shops and independent cafes which contribute to Cardiff’s lively cafe culture.

‘A stall on Cardiff Central market’ shows a stall offering an abundant array of vegetables and produce highlighting the contribution of independent and local retailers in the city.

The image of Roath park depicts the expansive lake, the Captain Scott Lighthouse, and looks across to the tree lined verges and Lake Road East beyond it.

The business also features art by Andrew featuring views of Swansea.

I’m enjoying operating Impressions of Cardiff and Swansea. Independent businesses bring unique and diverse goods and services, and offer alternatives to high street chains. I hope this sector continues to grow and thrive in the years ahead.

Rosie Oxley was born and grew up in Swansea, has lived in Cardiff for almost 17 years, and currently lives in Fairwater. She set up Impressions of Cardiff and Swansea in 2011 shortly before the arrival of her young daughter Jessa. She’s an enthusiastic fan of Cardiff and of Impressionist Art, and is thrilled to be selling items featuring images of iconic views in the city. Visit the Impressions of Cardiff and Swansea website at http://www.impressionsofcardiffandswansea.org.uk Twitter @ImprCdfandSwans

Rosie was photographed at the Roath Craft Market in the Mackintosh Community Centre, by Amy Davies.


“Butetown is my hometown” – Beatrice

Gavin Porter Giving a tour of Butetown-by Angelo Gianpaolo Bucci

Butetown and me have never been more than acquaintances. As a journalism student at Cardiff University back in 2009, I used to walk down Bute Street only to head to the Bay, unaware of what laid behind the terraced houses that decorate the sidewalk: I would glance at the African shops and the colourful murales on the right hand side of the street and assume I knew something about the place.

I couldn’t be more wrong about it. I ignored that since the early 18th century Butetown has been the multicultural spot of the city, a place where people from different continents lived in the same Victorian house; nor I knew the first Yemeni and Somalis sailors making landfall to the Bay where also the founder of Britain’s first mosque in 2 Glynrhondda St, Cathays. I knew very few about Butetown up until March 2013 when I visited the Diff again after working in London. This time I was determined to learn more about the area for personal and professional reasons.

On the personal side I needed to know more about African culture and migration. Despite being in Italy from Congolese parents I haven’t lived in an African community and so my knowledge of the  continent and its cultures was limited to what I read, watched and was told. The hunger for information wedded so well with my professional soul as I started to work on a documentary on migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Back in 2011 and throughout 2012 few trips brought me to Oslo, Brussels and Istanbul. And in these cities I couldn’t help but notice the urban isolation of African migrants. In Istanbul, tall, muscled men would appear during the day, selling goods on the Galata bridge over the Golden Horn and disappear when the sun sat down, like invisible presences. After doing some research and discovering how few has been written on these communities, I decided to work on a reportage called “Where we are”, with the aim of discovering and let emerge un(der)reported ethnic groups and cultures, baring two questions: are these groups isolating or isolated? How are people living there?

With these queries in mind and the will to avoid the same old representation of migrants, I began working with Gianpaolo Bucci, an Italian filmmaker who quitted his job at RAI, the equivalent of the BBC in Italy, to focus on social issues and human rights.

From a reportage confined to few European cities, the project became an ambitious multimedia documentary to be shot in 12 different cities of the world. It brings the name of (IN)VISIBLE CITIES.

Among those cities, Cardiff was the first stop and Butetown the main focus.

Butetown and me have always been acquaintances maybe because nobody properly introduced to each other. Our relationship status updated in March 2013 when the first episode of (IN)VISIBLE CITIES was shot and when I befriended with people who have lived in the area sometimes for their whole lives.

It was a long chain of people introducing us to other people that made everything possible. Never the “everyone knows everyone” expression was more adequate. Although Butetown might appear as a closed space, confined between a railway and the Taff river, it is a “town” where doors are literally always open. This works for historic institutions like the Butetown History and Arts Centre as well as for private houses. So shows the way Himmat welcomed us.

Himmat came to Butetown few years back after living in other areas of Cardiff and in Denmark. He’s originally from Sudan, but loves the idea of his two little girls growing up in an environment where children gather in the yard and don’t even notice whether they’re from Yemen or Somalia or Malta.

Race was never an issue for the Borge’s either, an eleven-people-family whose ethnical roots can be traced back to Malta, France, Somalia, India … just to name a few. So it’s entrenched their love for Butetown that one of the daughters, sitting in the loud and crowded kitchen a stone away from the Bay touristic restaurants, proudly told me she’ll never leave, because that’s her “hometown”.

Very few people told us about government benefits, how they have struggled to get where they are or crime, but those who did have diverse opinions on these issues. Some mentioned about how Butetown is considered or is a “tough area”, or has been isolated by the government or the place has been a safe haven for multicultural groups. But mostly we discovered intimate stories and African tradition we did not know about.

Like when we first met Maher, a single dad who lives near what was the historic Loudoun square. After recounting his tales of a former sailor coming from Sudan, he let us in his kitchen where we had a taste of Sudanese culture. Maher’s house was filled with a pungent and exotic perfume which he revealed being an incense women use before getting married. Back in the days, his mother might have used that too. He smiled when showing some pictures of his family and parents, especially his mom, who had two long excavation on her cheeks, apparently scarves resulting from a traditional mark made to differentiate tribes. He commented only by saying: “That’s what they do!” Like he wasn’t part of the Sudanese frame anymore.

This is something that happens to migrants and second generations: crisis and loss of identity. I experienced it myself when others were asking whether I feel Congolese or Italian. British actress Thandie Newton talked gorgeously about her identity crisis as a girl born from Zimbabwean mother and British father, in a TED Talk. But finding the same paths in people in Butetown just brought me closer and closer.

Hassan for example, was the youngest of the people we talked to. Born Somali in Denmark and now a happy resident of Butetown, he confessed he’s a bit confused about his cultural identity and hopes his children will have a clearer vision about this. Hassan is a poet, one of the group that together with producer Gavin Porter, created a two-day show on Somali culture in Butetown. The pièce, De Gabay, took place early in March and introduced to other people living in Cardiff a culture that is now embedded in the history of the capital.

I could go on and on talking about people met in Butetown and how they broaden the idea of (IN)VISIBLE CITIES, but it’s better not to spoil the contents of the documentary, that will soon be screened in Seoul in South Korea after being promoted in the U.S.

Not too long ago our chase for African migrants led us to Los Angeles and then continued as we crossed the US from coast to coast.

No question we’ll be back in Cardiff to show the documentary as well and catch up with what are now not only protagonists and makers of this adventure, but also friends.

Ngalula Beatrice Kabutakapua is an investigative journalist and photographer born in Italy but with Congolese roots. In her seven years spent working in the media she has collaborated with media companies such as The Guardian, L’Espresso, Radio France Internationale and the BBC. Focused on international development, migration and human rights issues, she has also been a staff member of the UN Department of Information and is currently an editorial trainer for the US-based NGO World Pulse. She is an active volunteer and works in Italian, English and French.



“I’ve become the most employed life model in the UK – the UK’s most naked man” – Andy


My first ‘proper’ girlfriend was Sian. I used to visit her every now and then, catching the coach down from London. Back in the day, Sian would take me to Pillars for snacks, shopping in the arcades, to the ‘animal wall’, Spillers Records, a dusty old book shop… But this is now. Sian and I have swapped locations. She lives in London, and I, mostly, live in Cardiff. I don’t see Sian anymore, as that was then. That was 33 years ago.

And me? I’m 48, live in a van, and am, usually, as naked as the day I was born.

Cardiff has changed over the years. Cardiff has been spruced up. Cardiff has had a facelift. It’s a bit unfinished and tired in places, development land in the Bay is laying fallow, modern estates of twenty years past are so soon decaying… Cardiff’s heart is pumping, but its pimped up and requires feeding. The shops and pedestrian zones demand regular re-invention and a fatty, corporate growth. It’s as if Cardiff wasn’t ready, wasn’t right for the glitz and shimmer of town centre apartments, the footballers wives lifestyles. It’s limbs, it’s Roath’s, Cathays’, Canton’s and Grangetown’s, they are where Cardiff’s at.

I think I’ve aged better than Cardiff. You can see my history on my face. There’s no mask, no veneer, no lick of paint. I’ve grown craggy, I’ve grown brave, I’m wild now, a feral human… My eyes shine bright like the gleaming windows of the smart, dressed stone Victorian town houses that hem in Roath Park. There are lines gathering about them, lines of laughter, of sorrow, of astonishment and dismay. Those lines are as the rivers Taff, Ely and Rhymney that flow over the damp, dank creases of the cities weather beaten skin. My body is tighter, taughter. It’s straining to bursting. My body is the vehicle for my voice, the voice that it holds captive behind its sinew curtain, within its bone cage. And it creaks. And it’s slower to bend. And as I speak, I ache…

And Cardiff aches and snaps at times. It’s people spark at each other. It’s architecture has raised eyebrows. I see violence of fists and of the demolition ball against the backdrop of a screaming birthing of gleaming towers. I see it’s roads slow to a halt, but, always, there is movement over tarmac once more, an edging forwards, a traveling through time and space. There’s a fidgeting to the Bay, a trembling to Whitchurch, a lurching to Llanrumny. Cardiff breathes in and out a mass of humanity, several times a day. And the humans grow up, grow old. And the city changes. It’s forever changing…

And I’ve changed. I’m 48, live in a van, and am, usually, as naked as the day I was born. More so, in fact. Swaddling’s not my thing. I’m my partners muse, an artists muse, I can be your muse. I’ve become the most employed life model in the UK, the UK’s most naked man. I work for colleges, universities, artists, hen party’s, TV… I run drawing sessions in bars in the evenings… I’ve been filmed naked with Lacey Turner and Caroline Quentin… My bum’s been booked for theatre, appearing live, on stage, an avant-garde performance arse… I’ve been interviewed by the owner of the UK’s most famous bottom, for Radio Four…

I have Cardiff to thank for this. It’s the right size for a city. It’s easy to get stuff moving, to build on an idea, to drive a project to success. Cardiff enables personal re-invention as fluidly as it re-invents itself. Cardiff’s a city on a human scale. And when it gets me down, when the planners, politicians, businessmen and all their associates, that band of corporate bland, when they piss me off, I head to Roath Lake. I sit in my van. And I watch the duckies…

Originally from South East London Andrew has been in Wales for 25 years and has experienced living in the Valleys, Brecon, Talgarth and Cardiff. Since moving to Wales he has become, amongst other things, a mountaineer, a poet, youth inclusion specialist, an activist and of course, the most naked man in the UK! He currently lives in his van with his partner Becky and his dog, Rowan. They mostly park up near Roath Park and welcome visitors who often are treated to a cup of fresh mint tea. More info can be found at about.me.

Andy was photographed at Roath Park Lake by Lann Niziblian


Street seen: positive socialising


“Fundraising is my absolute passion. I put on events to raise money for different charities – I raised twelve and a half thousand pounds last year. It started out being quite low-key – I love a good night out, and people started asking me to organise them locally. They’re great events and so much fun – and it’s all for a good cause. I call it positive socialising!”

As seen in: Roath

Read Wayne Courtney’s story for We Are Cardiff

Photograph by Helia Phoenix


Street seen: favourite tune


“I can’t pick a favourite song. There are too many I love! If I had to pick the perfect song for this very moment, it would be ‘Africano‘ by Earth Wind and Fire.”

As seen in: Roath

Photograph by Helia Phoenix


Project Cardiff – new exhibition at Milkwood Gallery

Marc Thomas photographed for Project CardiffA new exhibition featuring the work of We Are Cardiff photographer Lann Niziblian is launching this weekend at the Milkwood Gallery, Roath.

The exhibition will feature portraits from Lann’s Project Cardiff – ‘a portfolio of photographs of people how have been identified as making a positive contribution to the creative life and soul of the city.’

A selection of the images has previously been shown at the Senedd and they will now hang in the Milkwood Gallery from 2-24 February.

Exhibition Dates: 2 – 24 February 2013
(Private View: 2 February 2013 from 6.00pm)

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10.00am – 5.00pm

Venue: Milkwood Gallery, 41 Lochaber Street, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3RU

Image is Marc Thomas, Editor of Plastik Magazine, with thanks to photographer Lann Niziblian.

“Cardiff is gentle, real and always grounded” – Amy

amy mcclelland

As I write this, I am sitting in my front room in Cathays. I can hear those seagulls we all hear on the roof and can smell “student cooking”. A thought comes into mind. No matter how hard the council tries to ‘Keep Cathays Tidy’ (and I know how hard they try) … it never really is tidy. I am starting to feel that somehow this is meant to be. Discarded pizza flyers and nibbled bin bags appear to be part of the shabby chic ephemera which typifies Cathays.

I love Cardiff. It is gentle, real and always grounded, no matter how many students, well-oiled rugby fans or naked cyclists pass through its streets.  When I tell people that I live in Cardiff, they always say ‘’I have heard that Cardiff is meant to be a great place to live’’. They are right. Having happily lived here for nearly ten years with my partner, I always speak extremely highly of this wonderful town. Where else in the British Isles can you walk in a beautiful park, see a man banging sticks on a bin, see absolute stag and hen hedonism, an Indian City Hall wedding and the delights of a Norwegian church all in one day?  Walking through Cardiff offers so many delights besides the great culture, architecture, museums and shops. If you look carefully enough, you may get to see its hidden treasures, like the teenage PDAs outside Blue Banana, the lady with the hat and black boots who spends hours dancing in front of buskers, the RAC man who seems to be everywhere, the religious preacher with his speakerphone or the almost edible kittens upstairs in the market. In Cardiff, no matter how crowded and busy things get, there is always somewhere for you to escape to. There is always a haven. One of my favorite havens in Cardiff has to be the ‘Summer House’ in Bute park. Just a five minute walk from my office or the town centre, it is the perfect place to sit and breathe, be it the middle of winter or the peak of our wet summers. Full of children with sticky fingers rushing around panting dogs, people getting lost in books and mums and dads on health kicks with bike helmets on, you can never be bored.

I first came to Cardiff to study Psychology in 2003. My sister loved it so I figured I would too. Being from Birmingham originally, Cardiff initially felt small and a bit old-fashioned. In my mind, I would stay for the three years of my degree and then go with my partner to somewhere more ‘exciting’. However, one night, as we walked under the bridge by the Hilton, my friend said ‘’Amy, I think you will find your Karma here’’. Little did I know, he would be absolutely right. I can’t see myself settling anywhere else anytime soon.

Cardiff has many wonderful resources. It is clever yet humble and gives often without wanting anything in return. May our wonderful town live on. Thanks Cardiff, you have been good to us.

Amy McClelland is a local Psychologist who runs the Cardiff Sleep Clinic ‘Sleep Wales’ and ‘Optimis Psychology’. Away from her office, she is a passionate linguist, likes singing, collecting her niece from nursery, yoga and spending free time in the College House chatting to Salvo, Dan and Michaela. Her favorite place in the world is the Blue Marlin in bar in Ibiza.

Amy was photographed in Bute Park by Lann Niziblian



“I love Cardiff” – Justin


My name is Justin and I love Cardiff. I feel like I’m at an AA meeting…!

I write for Buzz Magazine from time to time and go to many gigs, I enjoy my life and these sort of things keep me happy.

Y’see it could’ve all gone a little bit different from this. For a few years certainly did.

I was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 27, which was a great shock. At least it was found in time. It had to be monitored at first as it was on the brain stem and in a dangerous position to remove, but after a couple of years it had grown too big and it had to be gone.

After the operation (which was carried out in London) I went into a coma and woke up a vegetarian (after dreaming I was a dead fish on a boat at sea). A few years of recovery has seen me walk with the aid of a stick, which is quite amazing considering the state I was in.

But after this operation some part of the tumour found another place to regrow, in a part of the brain that affected the sensations in my face. So I had a steel cage on my head fitted with pins while they attacked it with lazers in Sheffield, and I then had radiotherapy in Velindre hospital in Cardiff which involved getting a tattoo on my spine. They gave me Christmas Day off the treatment though!

The help of family and friends has helped me all the way though. I now attend Headway once a week. Headway is a charity that helps and encourages people from various brain injuries and it has done so much for me and many other people.

I now arrange a fundraiser every summer for Headway Cardiff with help from Cardiff musicians, promoters, and friends. Clwb Ifor Bach is one ‘friend’ who helps with everything. Clwb is probably my favourite place to go to gigs and I try to go at any opportunity.

The Cardiff music scene has endless bands and styles that could and does cater for everyone, so local music is my favourite and here is a list of (I know I’ll miss some, sorry!) my favourites: Islet, Them Sqirrels, Kutosis, Pagan Wanderer Lu, The School, Gindrinker, Threatmantics, Brandyman, Evening Chorus, Barefoot Dance of the Sea, Ratatosk, Right Hand Left Hand, Them Lovely Boys, She’s Got Spies, Strange News From Another Star, Future of The Left, Winter Villains, Little Arrow, John Mouse, Spencer McGarry, Sweet Baboo, H-Hawkline, Francesca’s Word Salad, The Method, Houdini Dax, Gruff Rhys, The Gentle Good, Euros Childs, Richard James, Cate Le Bon…

I could go on but I suppose you’re bored by now. So go to a gig instead, or ask to listen and  buy at Spillers Records, which is another favourite haunt of mine for info, cds,vinyl and tickets.

The things that have happened to me make me appreciate smaller things a little more and Cardiff is a great place for these experiences and has such great people. I shit you not.

News update: the most recent scan results for Justin were positive – he now now moves on to annual treatment, and his doctor at Velindre believes he is on his way to being completely cured.

Justin was photographed at Spillers Records by Simon Ayre


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