Brooklinde: treasure trove of gold, silver and platinum in the High Street Arcade

Happy New Year!

Alright, we’re quite a way into the new year, but this is the first post on the blog of 2013 so I thought I’d get that out of the way. When I started this project almost two years ago, I didn’t think I’d still be going all this time later. I’ve got some great new posts coming up soon, so watch this space!

Now back to the business of this post. A couple of weeks before Christmas I was invited to photograph the great Brooklinde Jewellery shop in the High Street Arcade. I’m a bit of a shiny things magpie so I was keen to get down there and have a look. I’d also been told there was a workshop downstairs, and I’m always intrigued by what happens away from the shopfront.

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Christmas in the Arcades: Magical lights in the Castle and Morgan Quarter

For many people, Christmas means presents, turkeys, Father Christmas and maybe even Jesus. For me, my favourite part has always been the lights. And maybe Mariah Carey’s all-time best song (no, not Dream Lover).

This year, the Arcades are looking as gorgeous as ever, with an array of lights to really heighten the festive cheer of the shoppers inside. I think the Morgan and Royal Arcades have really gone all out this year, and a visit to Cardiff this December wouldn’t be complete without a wander through the arcades to check them out.

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Christmas in the Arcades: Vintage festivity in Hubbard’s Cupboard

In this second installment of Christmas specials, I take a look at Hubbard’s Cupboard.

I photographed the shop a few weeks ago, but at Christmas they’ve decided to go all out and the store is looking beautifully vintagely (is that a word?) festive.

You can pick up all kinds of treats and goodies in the shop, including lots of handmade decorations (I think my favourite are the birds and owls) and beautiful Christmas cards from local designers.

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Cardiff Arcades from a totally different perspective…

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of borrowing a Nikon D4 and an 8mm fisheye lens.

What better subject for such a combination than the beautiful arcade architecture?

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City Surf… Skate and Snow, in Cardiff since 1986

As one of the oldest arcades shops still trading, I’ve been hoping to shoot City Surf ever since the project began. Finally, over a year into it, I managed to pop by and take some photos of the new location for the shop.

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Arcades 2011: Farewell to some greats and big hopes for 2012

Well… what a year it has been! This time last year, the project didn’t exist at all, so it’s pretty cool to look back at all the photos I’ve taken. In that time I’ve photographed some of the best shops in Cardiff, probably the entire of Britain if not the world, so it’s been, on a personal note a really fantastic experience for me.

However, it’s also tinged with sadness, as we’ve also seen some of these beautiful shops get beaten by the world economic state and close down. Of course it’s the nature of things that shops come and go, and it’s certainly not the first year we’ve lost some fantastic businesses, and if we’re being realistic, also not the last.

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Cardiff Arcades Project Christmas special… Madame Fromage: cornucopia of foodie delights

I know I seem to say this for almost every shop I photograph, but Madame Fromage is one I’ve been exciting about shooting for ages. After trying, and failing, to set up a time for me to go in since March, I was actually kind of glad that I missed any earlier opportunity as it meant going in just as all the delicious Christmas produce was coming in.

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Puma Bluebirds pop-up shop in High Street Arcade

It’s always nice to see something taking up the empty shops, even if it is just a pop-up or an exhibition. In this case, the former Lunacy shop has been transformed into a pop-up for Puma, who are promoting their Cardiff exclusive Bluebirds merchandise.

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‘Being’ at The Wardrobe, High Street Arcade: Opening night photos

Last night I popped along to the opening of a new art show taking place in one of the empty shops of the High Street Arcade. It’s fantastic to see the empty units being used for something positive, and it always brings a new sense of excitement to the arcades when this kind of thing happens.

Taking place at the site of The Wardrobe, the men’s clothes shop that closed down last year after nearly 20 years of trading in the arcade, the art exhibition is hosted by December Lab the same people who organise Vertical Cinema over at Gwdihw.

I spoke to one of the organisers, Lee, last night about why they chose to exhibit in the arcades. He told me that originally they’d originally tried to exhibit in the Morgan Arcade but were met with costs that weren’t there for the High Street Arcade. Although the space in the Morgan Arcade is bigger, it’s fair to say that The Wardrobe has a great amount of character, especially upstairs.

I met two of the artists who are exhibiting, Jonathan Thomas and Garrett Lynch. Also on display is Henrik Hedinge, Freeman & Fine, Daniel Jeczalik and Liam O’Conner. Unfortunately exhibitor Inga Burrows has pulled out. The show focuses on the idea of ‘Being’ and uses video installation and other artforms.

One of the organisers of the exhibition, Lee, who told me he was delighted to see so many people at the opening.

Speaking to Garrett about his work was fascinating. A lecturer at the University of Glamorgan, he puts on ‘performances’ through Second Life, the virtual reality online world. As you’ll see in his portrait, he wears a sandwich board, with the phrase “I AM GARRETT LYNCH (IRL)” on it. This is the same as his virtual avatar wears, a play on both his nationality (Irish) and the abbreviation for “In Real Life.” It would probably take me far too long to explain in this post exactly what the performances involve, so the best thing you can do is go along to the exhibition to see it for yourself! And you can find more information on Garrett Lynch’s website.

Jonathan, who wasn’t so keen on having his photo taken but let me anyway, is displaying a video projection upstairs and is, according to the information leaflet, ‘An investigation into/with/through frames (aesthetic, spatial, temporal, epistemological, ontological, ideological…), offscreen space and the imaginary object. Again, it’s probably better if you just pop along to see the show.

You can see more pictures from the show in this post, and it runs until the 28th May. For more information, you can visit the Facebook event page – or just call into the shop the next time you’re in the city centre!

Jonathan Thomas' projection, upstairs in the exhibition

Liam O'Conner's piece, an 11 minute film, watch as the ice melts to reveal the picture behind it - every time I walked past it was different.

Freeman and Fine's work, single frame animation.


Art show ‘Being’ at The Wardrobe, High Street Arcade

It’s always a shame to see empty shops in the arcades, so when those spaces are filled, even temporarily, with art it’s fantastic news. The Wardrobe, which was for a long time a men’s clothes shop in The High Street Arcade will open its doors again starting from tomorrow (private view – 19th May) for an art exhibition by DecemberLab.

The exhibition is hosted by the same people who organise VerticalCinema and is a show loosely based upon the theme of ‘Being’, bringing together various artists working in the moving image (and related fields).

Those artists on display will include:

Garrett Lynch
Daniel Jaczalik
Jonathan Thomas
Freeman & Fine
Inga Burrows
Henrik Hendinge
Liam O’Conner

Private view and drinks starts on Thursday 19th May from 7pm, you are encouraged to bring a bottle. The exhibition runs until 28th May. If you are in town over the next few days I urge you to stop by and take a look, even if just to check out the beautiful unit that is The Wardrobe. I love the curvy shape and art-deco finishing so it’s nice to see it put to some good use.

I’ll be there tomorrow night, hoping to meet some of the artists involved with the show, and taking some pictures and portraits, which I’ll report back on as soon as I can.

More information on ‘Being’ can be found on the Facebook event page.