Tag Archives: portrait

“The wonderful bubble world of Cathays” – Tim


Just over three years have now passed since I first started life as a student here in Cardiff. three years of living in what, I, personally can only characterise as a bubble. A big shiny bubble cast from the disposed fairy liquid bottle that is the ‘studentville’ land of Cathays. This bubble is itself filled with smaller bubbles, with posh, flip-flop wearing, hands-free talking, ‘Walkabout loving’ numpties living inside. These smaller bubbles bounce along in unison to an overplayed Kings of Leon track in the glorified infant school disco that is the Cardiff Student Union. Wait a second … it gets better. These bubbles are not bouncing around without purpose, oh no, they do have purpose these bubbles … yeah; they call it ‘a degree’. So this bubble world is now even better, because all the bubble people bounce around in lecture halls to the bemused expressions of unshaven ‘slightly good looking in a weird way’ lecturers who have no idea why they themselves are even here in this strange smelly bubble world.  So, all we need now is Sean Bean to narrate this, because it’s already looking like an O2 advert.

Allow me to speak personally about my place in this bubble world. When I first arrived in Cathays as a fresher, I was an Alien. I was at first, bubble free. Before I knew it however, I was walking around in a bubble that was a lot bigger than everyone else’s. To put it more plainly, I was a massive twat. Living in the absolute shite hole that is Senghennyd Court, or rather ‘Senghetto’, (yes, I was not the only massive twat) myself and my bubble friends drank a lot of alcohol, damaged a lot of playing cards and drank a lot of alcohol. Looking not too dissimilar to a homeless man’s first bubble bath, my bubble self and my bubble friends soaked Cardiff by crowding into pubs and clubs dressed as golfers, becoming emotionally attached to fish and chip shops workers and constantly singing, or rather belching the words ‘House G!’ everywhere we went, in homage to our decrepit nest.

I would like to say that when starting this article, I did actually plan just to refer to Cathays and University life in general as one singular bubble. This was so that later on I could make an insightful, meaningful point about the bubble bursting when you graduate and how all of us ex students have to struggle to find our place in this world. But then I thought fuck it, that’s boring and students annoy me too much now so I am going to have a good old fashioned moan about them. This is the thing really. I wanted to illustrate Cardiff University students living in bubbles because it is the one style of life that inevitably has to end, the same way in which bubbles eventually have to pop. When this experience does end, and your shaking the hand of that ‘bloke’ at the graduation ceremony, it feels very much like you’ve been popped by a massive drawing pin. You then find yourself flapping around on the floor, gasping for air like an ambitious fish that wanted to see more of the world outside of his fish tank. However after jumping out of the tank, he realises when it’s too late that he cannot actually breath in this world. I, myself am one of those graduate people and in between trying to be a sitcom writer, playing Fifa 12 and furiously masturbating, I sometimes chat with my friends about how different we all were back then or rather, ‘how silly we were’.

When you try looking at all this objectively, I think you actually realise that maybe, the bubble has not actually burst. Instead, the bitter little masturbating graduate inside probably feels like that they don’t deserve to be like they once were in their student days because life is now apparently ‘hard’. Well it’s not though is it? The fear is based on having to get a job isn’t it? A boring job that everyone inevitably has to get stuck into. So, to all you graduates out there, get back in your bubbles and bounce around like you once did. Bounce around and be annoying by talking to your friends in the street really loudly so that other people can hear how cool your are, go out and get blind drunk … I can hear ‘Sex on Fire’ already.

After graduating from Cardiff with some degree to do with Religious Studies, Timothy Collins currently still resides in Cathays, and outside of working in the University libraries he is attempting to get to grips with sitcom and comedy theatre writing.  He also does other things. For example … erm, what else does he do? Oh yeah. BUGGER ALL!

Tim was photographed in The Vulcan Lounge in Cathays by Doug Nicholls




“It’s unusual to perform burlesque in a Masonic Hall, but it works for us” – Cherrie


During my decade in Cardiff, I’ve gained a degree, worked in the music industry, been backstage at some of the greatest festivals in the UK, made some amazing friends, been to some of the best gigs of my life, and transformed myself into a burlesque artiste amongst many other things.

All of these things happened to me because I moved to Cardiff.

There are so many talented people here, from Santa Macabre – who makes jewellery that just blows my mind – to Ewan Jones-Morris and Casey Raymond who create fantastical music videos, the people who make Chapter Arts Centre so amazing, Swn festival, and Caroline Duffy – a beautiful graphic designer (a physical beauty and beautiful work!) to name but a few!

I have battled with depression for the past few years, and one day a friend handed me a flyer advertising burlesque classes, with the intention of going for a bit of a laugh. I was nervous, but agreed to try it out. We were introduced to Miss FooFoo La Belle and took our first, somewhat wobbly, high-heeled steps into the world of burlesque.

And what a world it is! That was four years ago, and since then I have become a chorus girl of FooFoo’s ‘Burlesque Cardiff’ troupe. After venturing into a duet or two, I slowly gained the confidence to become a solo performer in my own right, and so Cherrie Pips was born!

In the beginning of my burlesque life, fellow Cardiff performer Violet Noir was a huge influence on me. She really inspired me to make the leap and become a solo performer. I was captivated by her style and grace, and her music choices showed me I could be bold and unusual with my performance.

Burlesque Cardiff’s first outing was with 25 of us crammed onto the tiny stage at Ten Feet Tall, but we’ve come a long way since then. Our current home is at the majestic Guilford Hall, just around the corner from Gwdihw. It’s unusual to perform burlesque in a Masonic Hall, but it works for us! FooFoo LaBelle has put together some incredible shows for us, including a tribute to Hollywood, some memorable characters such as Beetlejuice and Tony Montana, and even some Mexican all-female wrestling thrown into the mix. She sets a new theme for each show, choreographing group routines, as well as performing her exceptional solos. We also have the gorgeous pole dancing doubles with Sminxie and Cariad Cwtch, to add an extra bit of tease to our shows.

Some of the starlets currently performing with Burlesque Cardiff are: Miss FooFoo LaBelle, Poppy Vanguard, Sandy Sure, Miss Betty Blue Eyes, Evie Wonder, Katie Von Cupcake, Sunshine Sparkle, GiGi Sextone, Scarlet Blush, Molly Toff Cocktail, Sassafras Sundae and Luna C Fur. Each performer has a unique style and our fans are equally fabulous! I love being a part of Burlesque Cardiff, because no two of us are the same. We are of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Our troupe does not conform to consist of only skinny young girls – we are all different and that’s what’s so great about being a Burlesque Cardiff girl. We’re like a family, we support and love one another, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Cherrie Pips hails from Kidderminster, and moved to Cardiff to study for a Fine Art degree. She loves photography and collecting photographic paraphenalia. She teaches photography classes during each term at Celtic Learners Network, an adult learning initiative set up in 2010. She currently lives in Canton.

Cherrie was photographed in the bar upstairs in Ten Feet Tall by Ffion Matthews




“floorboards creak out a secret or two” – Ivy




worms drill, silent in the wood
floorboards creak out a secret or two

this bench needs another polish
a neighbour exchanges a pointed word
to the woman next to her
who smoothes her old wool skirt and nods

at the couple glimpsed in the lower floor—
the wife goes through the little door
her husband holds open for her
her new hat trembles as she sits
he slips the latch closed behind them

when the priest speaks, the shuffles hush
everyone’s here for the word of God
he rests his Bible on a cushion
it’s still all true, last year’s sermon

out the windows, houses climb the hill
rooves of soot, limned with sunset

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (Red Morning Press, 2006), her first book of poems. While finishing her second book, she wrote poems at St Fagans National History Museum, which will be included in her third book (thanks to a bursary from Academi). She arrived in Cardiff in 2004 and, after jumping the appropriate hoops, swore allegiance to the Queen a second time and became a British citizen in 2010. She lives in Canton.

Ivy was photographed at St Fagans by Robert Bell