Tag Archives: simon ayre

“I love Cardiff” – Justin

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

mevs_web

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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Behind the camera: Simon Ayre

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. Please meet the lovely Simon Ayre!

One reason why Cardiff is an ace place to live

One of the things that makes Cardiff so good is one of the many reasons why people often leave: it’s such a small place. This means that you’re no more than a 15 minute walk (if you bump into friends along the way which you probably will) from one end of the town centre to the other. As a town centre it caters for all sorts of people, at daytime or night. Outside of the town centre there are so many things going on it’s just a case of finding what’s right for you. Or you can be a hermit.

Favourite place to eat out in Cardiff

Anywhere that isn’t my house, pretty much. Probably Wagamama, maybe.
“Ooh but it’s a chain.”
“Oooh but I don’t care.”

I don’t eat out that often and when I do it’s usually in the Rummer Tavern before a gig (despite their peas). I love their food but have no idea why.

Favourite shop in Cardiff

Well, I rarely shop. I never have any money, so pretty much the only shop I really go into is Spillers, if they’re REALLY lucky.

Favourite Cardiff venue

Clwb Ifor Bach. We’ve got some great venues in Cardiff with the likes of the Globe and Buffalo, but the gigs and nights out I’ve had at clwb are consistently great.

5. Best Cardiff memory (can be a gig or show or exhibition or anything you like)

Too many to mention. Actually, my friend Gareth drunkenly getting the members of Broken Social Scene to draw pictures of him in his passport instead of getting autographs will go with me to my grave.

Book/s you’re reading at the moment

Press Gang: 3. Checkmate

Yes, a book based on the kids ITV series. Following a conversation on Twitter (with someone I’ve only met for about 10 minutes) about the books/ series around 6 months ago, I got a message last week asking for my address. I had no idea what it was for but gave her my address as I occasionally like to live my life REALLY on the edge, and it came in the post yesterday with a really lovely note. Also, given that it’s essentially a book for kids, I’m kind of at roughly the right mental level.

Film/s you’ve recently seen and likes

I probably haven’t been to the cinema since Scott Pilgrim. I recently bought Submarine for some inspiration for an engagement shoot for friends and really liked it. I generally like Shane Meadows’ stuff, a bit of horror and some older classics… Singin’ in the Rain is the best film ever. North By Northwest, Blow Up, Cabinet of Dr Caligari, Bonnie and Clyde… er…… . My film degree is absolutely wasted on me though to be honest. No concentration for films – I always feel like I should be doing something.

Band/s you’re into atm

If I was asked this three years ago I could have reeled off countless names. Things have changed a lot for me since then and I’ve found myself so out of touch with music as a result. I always wondered at what point my parents stopped listening to new music and I think I’ve reached that point in the last couple of years, due to various circumstances. Having said that, the newer releases (as in bought in the last few months, not released last Monday) I’ve been enjoying recently include Howling Bells (The Loudest Engine), The Horrors (Skying) The Sons of Noel and Adrian (knots) , Evan Dando (The Hotel Sessions) and Neil Young (Live Cow Palace 1986) … that’s pretty much it I think.

Any projects you’re working on at the mo you want to big up…?

Got a music based photography one underway which will probably go live on a website in a couple of months, once momentum picks up with it, but I’m not saying any more as I want it to be associated with me and not some other copycat!

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

Canon EOS 5D mk2 and a Canon EOS 7D. I don’t necessarily have a favourite lens for the shoots as all the portraits are different, so what is suitable for one story isn’t suitable for another. Generally I probably use a 50mm or 24-70 most, but If I get the chance I’ll get my 100mm out because it’s lovely.

Your favourite We Are Cardiff photoshoot

They’ve all been really good to do for one reason or another and it’s nice getting to find so much out about people while doing a shoot. The shoot with Zoe Howerska earlier this year was great for that reason, with the added bonus of an amazing dog!

Thanks Simon! Simon Ayre online: flickr / twitter

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