Forbesfield Flowers: Beauty, colour and quirk in the Castle Arcade

Just a few days ago I had the pleasure of photographing the absolutely gorgeous Forbesfield Flowers, a beautiful florist in the Castle Arcade.

Anybody who reads this blog with any kind of regularity will know how infrequently I’m able to get my act together and post photos within a few photos of the shutter being released. However, Forbesfield, in its current incarnation, will cease to be in a short while, so I thought I better hurry it along so you can see it while it’s still around.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

Continue reading

Arcades Portraits: Lucy from Catapult Vinyl

Catapult was one of the first shops that I photographed for the project. Since then, Lucy the owner, and Simon, the manager have been incredibly supportive of the project and always been very enthusiastic about the work.

They’re always good to pop round and say hello to, and recently you may remember they moved premises just round the corner to the Duke Street Arcade.

However, a massive oversight has always been that I haven’t photographed the beautiful and wonderful Lucy for the project. That had to change, and so, when I had the pleasure of helping to review a Nikon D800, I jumped at the chance to shoot some portraits at the new shop.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Vintage Zizou: Beautiful, colourful, delicious clothes and jewellery in the Castle Arcade

It always thrills me to see a new shop opening up in the arcades, so full of hope and exciting spirit – and none possess this more so than the beautiful new vintage shop which can be found in the Castle Arcade.

Continue reading

Ushi’s: Papier mache mannekins, beautiful clothes and chairs on walls

It seems odd to think of it now, but Ushi’s was actually the shop that inspired the whole project. Quite the accolade you might think – but it was an interesting display in the window that caught my eye way back when and set the ball rolling.

So when I got the chance to photograph Ushi’s properly I was very excited at finally filling the gaps in. Ushi’s is one of the bigger shops in the Morgan Arcade and is owned by Lynne Beresford who I met with when I was photographing the shop.

Continue reading

A Vintage Affair: Cornucopia of retro delights in the Morgan Arcade

Unless you’re living under a pretty hefty rock, it can’t really have failed to escape your notice that vintage is BIG right now. Heard of little show called Mad Men, anyone? Anyway, I digress… A Vintage Affair in Morgan Arcade caters to those looking for their fill of lovely clothes, pretty teacups, gorgeous jewellery and pretty much everything else in between. There’s only one rule, ‘I usually only accept items from before the 1980s’, says owner Melanie King. So if you’re looking to offload any of your own items, bear that in mind.

The shop itself has been there only around a year or so, taking up the empty shop Rouge left behind (recognise the wallpaper?) and was originally run by 3 different sellers. Now the only Mel from the original trio is left, she is joined by Edwin Dyson, well-known in the city as the creator of the Blind Lemon Vintage Fair who supplies the line of men’s clothing which can be found upstairs.

It’s important to note the presence of menswear in the shop, undercatered as the sartorially sophisticated males of the city seem to be, especially in the vintage market. It’s nice to know that there are certain hotspots which they can find something to pick up (others include Looby Loos and Hobo’s, both in High Street Arcade).

Setting up the shop, owner Mel wanted it to be a little different from a traditional shop, with something to look at in every corner. Resulting in a pleasing ‘wow’ as you enter the door, I wager you could probably spend days in here and see something new with every glance. In short, a haven for those who like to rummage to find a hidden treasure or two.

Since its launch, Mel tells me its been popular. Indeed, when I visited it was pretty tricky to get any empty shop photos, having to sneak them in wherever possible. Obviously its wares are a popular subject, but it’s also helpful It’s situated in a pretty neat spot, next to the famous Plan and within a few metres of the infamous Spillers Records. It also benefits from being not too far from the regenerated Hayes/St David’s area, and is surely a welcome diversion from the more sterile environment of the bigger chain shops that surround it.

Way back when (that’s what people say when they don’t know the exact date, right?), Mel tells me it was a Sarsaparilla Bar. Still she gets older people popping their head round the door to tell her all about its former days selling it to the locals.

Sourcing her goods from a myriad of places including vintage fairs and customers bringing stuff in to sell, Mel tells me of the time she visited an Aladdin’s-cave of an old house packed to the rafters with (very) old magazines, clothes, accessories and crockery. Heaven for her shop, and my mind instantly wonders exactly how many photos I’d take in a place like that (rough estimate: 12 billion).

To me, the three (four if you count Folk Farm) vintage shops in the arcades complement each other perfectly, because they’re not really competing with each other. Looby Loo’s is the place to go for clothes, with its rails of elegant finery, whereas A Vintage Affair, although selling a few clothes, is probably more about the accessories, the jewellery, the ‘bits’ and Hobo’s, well that’s just a world of its own that really has nothing like it.

So next time you’re picking up a rare vinyl from Spillers, or treating yourself to a delicious brunch in The Plan, why not pop across to A Vintage Affair and see what you can find. Warning – I take no responsibility for any hours lost as you wander the rails/shelves/floor in amazement.

See below for some more pictures from A Vintage Affair. Predictably, the shutter button didn’t get much rest during this shoot so you can see a whole heap more over on this Vintage Affair Flickr set. Enjoy, share, tell me what you think in the comments box.

















Folk Farm: the most incredibly insane (in the best possible way) shop in Cardiff’s Arcades

Knowing where to start on this post is incredibly difficult. If you know anything about the shop, Folk Farm, or its charismatic owner, Chris Brick you’ll know why. If you don’t… well… prepare for something like you’ve probably never seen before.

Folk Farm is like no other arcade shop. In fact, it’s like no other shop. Certainly I’ve never witnessed anything like this before. Based around the theme of an old country farm, with sprinklings of the American mid-West liberally dashed around the place, this is a clothes-cum-record-cum-god-knows-what shop nestled away in the Castle Arcade.

If you’ve walked past it you’ve probably not really had any idea what’s going on in there. And if you’ve been brave enough to venture in, you’ve probably come out none-the-wiser.

It actually boasts Britain’s, if not Europe or the World’s largest collection of folk vinyl. Put simply there is a LOT here. It doesn’t seem to be in any order, so you will really need to root around if you’re looking for something in particular. There’s incredibly rare stuff here too, I’m not exactly in the know about this kind of thing, but you would hope a £100 record is £100 for a good reason.

On the other end of the spectrum, the clothes are amazing value. You’ll find mountains of t-shirts for £5. Or even £1 in some of the baskets. You’ll find random bits of clothing in the window that you could probably even haggle on the price of. You’ll also find random bits of whatever from all over the place floating around.

This isn’t the first time the owner, Chris Brick, has owned a shop of course. Oh no, far from it. Go in and ask if you want more details, honestly it’s really worth the chat. According to Chris, every 7-10 years he thinks up a new random idea, always based around a certain theme, and goes with it. He’s taken his shops to the US, notably in New York and San Francisco, but now, in what he thinks will be his last venture, he’s back in his homeland of Wales for Folk Farm.

Anyone familiar with his past might know of his previous ventures, Demob in London, Smylon Nylon in New York, Center for the Dull, also in New York and Teenage Millionnaire in LA. If you’re not familiar, now is a good time to get acquainted with the latest project. But even they weren’t his first ventures, he tells me, in his Welsh-American lilt that his initial business projects all collapsed, losing hundreds of thousands in the process. But he always picked himself up, dusted himself off, and got on with the next one. Until people started to cotton on and the shops became successful, a bit weird, a bit different, somewhere people just want to hang out.

He lives up by Abergavenny, the surrounding counties being the places he sources his crazy collection of goods from.  He tells me a lot of things in the shop are designed to evoke memories in customers. The tin bath for example, which you’ll find hanging off the ceiling as you come in the door (of course), reminds him of fireside baths as child.

Unbelievably, Chris says that not that many people have come to photograph the shop before for the press and so on. What?! I ask, probably 10 times during the course of our 2 hour chat. This can’t be possible. Why wouldn’t people want to photograph this? This is the most incredible place I’ve been in for a long time. Stand on one spot in the store and you can take 50, no 100 pictures and they will all be completely different. Honestly, try it out for yourself. Chris won’t mind, he just goes with the flow.

After leaving the States behind to come back, New York was the hardest market to crack apparently, Chris is less bothered about making money these days, so long as there’s enough to pay the rent and the bills and get by. This is clearly just about him doing what he wants to do and not worrying about what anyone else thinks – the best way to be.

His children, having grown up in America had to swap Malibu for the Welsh Valleys, love it all. They probably get their attitude from their father – it’s only his wife who would rather be back Stateside (on a rainy day would you blame her?).

You’ll see that I’ve taken a lot of portraits of Chris – all his idea. What can I say other than this guy’s a natural in front of the camera. He says he picked it up from watching the film extras that used to visit his American shops, but it’s obvious this isn’t the first time he’s been photographed. He asked to see one of the photographs I’d taken. “Look how old and fat I look!” he remarked. “Uh-oh…” went through my mind. “Isn’t it great!” was his next sentence.

Chris Brick and Folk Farm. Incredible guy, incredible shop. Go and check it out, now.

As you can imagine, I took hundreds of photos in this shop, of which I narrowed it down significantly. You can see a selection in this post, but there’s even more over on this Flickr set.

On this post, comments are, more than welcome, please share your thoughts, notes and insanity at the bottom.













Cardiff Arcades Bargains: April 2011

The last time I posted a round-up of great little Arcade bargains I had a positive response, so, with that in mind I’ve decided to make it a (semi) regular feature.

I rounded these up in about an hour, so imagine how much more you could find if you devoted your Saturday afternoon spending trip to it?

I’ll be posting any bargains I find as often as I can muster the energy, and promise to do a full-round up at least once a month.

In the meantime, if you see any bargains that you want to share, please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment!

Prices in this post range from £1 to £1100. If you’re thinking £1100 and bargain don’t really go very well together, when you consider that the item in question should be worth around £5000, you might begin to think differently.

In this issue you’ll find accessories, jewellery, shoes and clothing and crockery – enjoy!

Vintage Bag, Looby Loos, High Street Arcade, £6

Hand-made earrings, Looby Loos, High Street Arcade, £5

Purses, Bejewelled, High Street Arcade, £10

Converse trainers, Buzz Shoes, High Street Arcade, £25

Army shirt, Hobos, High Street Arcade, £12

Green belt with star detail, Hobos, High Street Arcade, £5

Butterfly trinket box, Rossiters, Royal Arcade, £5

Owl ring (also available in other colours), Rossiters, Royal Arcade, £7.50

Various singles, Folk Farm, Castle Arcade, £1

Engagement ring, Jonathan David, Morgan Arcade, £1100 .... its supposed to be £5000!

Mix n match teacups and saucers, A Vintage Affair, Morgan Arcade, £2

Teapot, A Vintage Affair, Morgan Arcade, £8

Arcade Bargains: February 2011

I thought I’d do a very quick post to share a few of the bargains I picked up yesterday on my arcades birthday.

Now that I’ve done it though I’m wondering if this would be good as a regular feature? Obviously I won’t always have the cash to buy all of the bargains I find, but a post every couple of weeks or so with a round-up of some great finds might be a welcome addition for Cardiff shoppers out there – let me know what you think!

Doing this project has certainly made me stop and think twice about visiting a high street chain for something, as Ben from Hobo’s pointed out when I interviewed him – in his shop you can pick up a whole outfit for £35. Even though we’re in a recession, we’re never going to stop shopping, but if we can think of ways to still treat ourselves while saving a few quid (and helping out independents!) then all the better.

There are obviously some expensive things in the arcades, but these bargains that I picked up show you that you can get something for a few pounds that not only are you likely to pay more for elsewhere, but they are also more likely to be a bit special.

Enjoy the pictures and any feedback welcome!

Thick shiny black belt from Hobo's Vintage, High Street Arcade: £5

Retro sunglasses from Hobo's Vinage: High Street Arcade: £10

Flower ring from Bejewelled, High Street Arcade: £5

Bracelet from Bejewelled, High Street Arcade: £7.50

Teaset, including teapot, cup and saucer, sugar bowl and milk jug from A Vintage Affair, Morgan Arcade: £8

Silver evening bag from A Vintage Affair: £6

Butterfly ring from Rossiter's, Royal Arcade: £4.75