There’s always something magical about Cardiff’s maze of Victorian arcades, a real mixture of shops where you can find anything from old books to fancy dress to musical instruments. You can find all kinds of food and drink, and quite often you’ll come across some art as well. You might not have always noticed it but the ‘ARTcade accessible art initiative’ is using empty shop spaces to allow artists to show their work, and for the public to access art in a public space.
This exhibition is a showcase of artistic talent of students and graduates from Cardiff Metropolitan University’s art and design course. Supported by Career Development Services at the University, and spearheaded by Esyllt George, who as an artist herself, recognised a unique opportunity to support creative students and graduates through the use of social media groups and regular meet ups at the School of Art and Design. From these meet ups creative students couldcome to together to share ideas and discuss opportunities, to show work and collaborate.
So, with support from the ARTcade project, from 26th January to 8th February 2016 members of the Creative Exchange present a pop-up exhibition of locally-produced artworks at 12 High Street, High Street Arcade in the centre of Cardiff.
As a taster of the exhibition, here are some descriptions of the artists and their work on show:
Ruby’s work in this exhibition focuses on playful intrigue into the perception of symbols in her environment. This is applied visually, such as seeing trees as mythical beings with multiple eyes, or a discarded umbrella as an insect. It is also relevant and a response to experiences and events; in the last year she has begun, as an experiment I have decided to pay attention to synchronistic events and use them as a guide for the direction of my work, with interesting results.
Deidre is sharing her work ‘Roots in the Community’. A participatory arts project, Deirdre is inviting the public to engage within the exhibition space to make trees from recycled materials to create and ‘City Forest’.
While making their trees the participants will be invited to share memories of times enjoyed around trees; to talk about their favorite types of trees; and to probe their knowledge relating to native and non-native trees. The intentions of this project are to promote an interest in nature, highlight the important symbiotic relationship that we have with trees, and create or enhance the participants love of the natural world in a creative and playful environment. Deirdre says, “In a world that is increasingly distracted by trending technologies I am hoping to create an interstice that initiates a dialogue about our tenuous but vital relationship to the natural world.”
Is a Finnish artist working with many mediums, including painting and installation, and is currently studying MA Art History at Cardiff School of Art and Design. In this particular exhibition Terhi enjoyed the freedom of working on her own practice and experimenting outside of her studies once again. Here Terhi uses film, photography and camera obscura to alter the viewing process of the audience and allow them to take a more active part in it. She says, “By being more observant we can find a new insight in mundane subjects.”
With work previously exhibited at home and in her native Finland, as well as Italy and Japan, Terhi also had the honour of being a part of the Kobe Biennale 2015, which can be seen here.
As these short profiles show, the work is truly varied. One of the great things about this group is that members come from a wide spectrum of artistic backgrounds and influences. The work on show includes illustration, ceramics, sculpture as well as video projection and painting. Ensure you venture downstairs as well to uncover the hidden gems on the lower floor.
There’s also a chance for people to get involved as well as learn more about the artists themselves, with planned artist talks and a series of participatory workshops across the exhibition run. The invigilators who look after the space are all members of the wider group, and will be happy to talk to anyone about the work, the group and their general experiences as an artist.
What is exciting about this exhibition is not only is it an opportunity for these artists to share their work with the public, in an accessible space, for free, but also the artistic freedom they’ve been given. There were no particular rules or theme given to the artists, so anything goes. The artists have brought a mixture of older work they’d like to get to show again, new work that is the start of something new, or simply something they just like. Talking to those involved it’s a great experience for them to have free reign and sometimes just ‘play’ bringing out whatever they feel will fit the space. The artists also plan on bringing bits from other collections to put in shared spaces around the exhibition to give a real diverse flavour to the event.
If you’re walking through Cardiff on a lunchbreak, shopping or out for the evening it’s worthwhile popping into the space, and seeing what this group of artists has to offer. All are welcome and are sure to get a warm reception from people keen to open up their work to the public. They can be found at 12 High Street Arcade Cardiff from the 27th January until 6th Feb. Opening times: 11am-6pm with a late night showing on Thursdays (until 8pm) admission free!