BBC News

Cardiff Contemporary: City opens up unusual spaces for art

image copyrightRob Allen/Cardiff Contemporary
image captionDouble take - work is popping up in unusual places across the city, as a shop window for contemporary art

Some unusual sights in some unfamiliar places can be expected in Cardiff from this weekend as part of a month-long visual arts festival.

The fourth Cardiff Contemporary is set in traditional galleries but also in derelict buildings - and even on the roof of a car park.

Artists are working to the theme of communication.

The festival, subtitled Are You Ready?, is inspired by Guglielmo Marconi's radio experiments on Flat Holm Island.

Those were the words transmitted in Morse code across the Bristol Channel to Lavernock Point in May 1897.

The biennial festival has already grabbed the headlines after a sighting of a "meteorite" off Penarth seafront, which went viral on social media, turned out to be a deliberate hoax by artist Mark James.

It was part of his work 'A Response', inspired by "a response from whatever life lives out beyond the stars, who might be watching us and the state our world is in".

There are 45 artists involved in different projects across the city, some of them arts spaces but also in derelict buildings and pop-up venues.

image copyrightRob Allen/Cardiff Contemporary
image captionLaura Ford was inspired to create her alternative animal wall after driving past Cardiff Castle as a child
image captionAndy Fung working on a multi-media project which explores childhood and nostalgia

Ruth Cayford, festival manager, said: "It's been incredible how the city has come together to make this work - from artists, businesses, the hotels, the council, the support from Arts Council Wales - it's quite a beautiful story how everyone has been working to make something cultural happen in the city."

Musician Richard James has been working with artists Angharad Van Rijswijk and Andy Fung, as well as comedian and writer Stewart Lee, on themes explored in Arthur Machen's book The Hill of Dreams.

"We're using stereo surround sound - trying to make it an immersive experience. I wanted a project which incorporated different types of visual art, sonic art and composition," said James, co-founder of the band Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

"It was all about trying to capture the magic of childhood and childhood landscapes and how they inform us as we get older and mature into adults."

It is one of the installations in a former derelict motorcycle garage in the city centre.

"It's quite dilapidated - I quite like the idea of having it in this sort of place. It takes it out of conventional galleries and I like making use of buildings no longer in use."

media captionPoet and visual artist Robert Montgomery uses the roof of a car park, soon to be demolished

The festival includes:

  • All Palaces Are Temporary Palaces - a 10m (33ft)-high light sculpture by Robert Montgomery - an artistic response to the refugee crisis - on the top of a multi-story car park in Wood Street, which continues a series of others in European cities.
  • The Garden of Earthly Delights - cabaret, sound and performance art in a takeover of the empty Victorian Customs and Immigration Building in Butetown by tactileBOSCH.
  • The Angel - four galleries in a derelict former motorcycle garage beneath the city centre's Angel Hotel.
  • Keepers of The Wall - sculptor Laura Ford installs her "animals" alongside the 19th Century stone-carved lion, wolf and ape outside Cardiff Castle.
  • Revelations: The Poison of Free Thought, Part II - by Cardiff based visual artist S Mark Gubb and Mobile Homestead by the late American artist Mike Kelley at g39, Oxford Street.

The event is sitting alongside the start of the Artes Mundi exhibition at National Museum Wales and Chapter.

image copyrighttactileBOSCH
image captionBuilt in 1865, the Customs and Immigration Building has stood empty for three decade
image copyrighttactileBOSCH
image captionNormally closed to the public, there is a chance to look inside as part of Cardiff Contemporary
image copyrighttactileBOSCH
image captionThe ornate Victorian staircase is still a sign of its former grandeur
image copyrighttactileBOSCH
image captionThe Garden of Earthly Delights opens on Saturday night and events will run until 2 November

Related Topics

  • Art
  • Cardiff

More on this story

  • Artes Mundi: Artists inspired by migration and future cities