Terrible Trouble

It’s 1st June. I’m fairly certain, and don’t quote me on this, that it’s now British Summer Time. Check your paper diary and see what it says. There are four seasons in the year: Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn. That gives us a whopping three months for every season, it’s wonderful! We get to see the entire world change every three months, over and over forever! You wouldn’t believe what the Victorians of Great Britain were like, they thought they could bulldoze the landscape and refashion it to their every whim. They found out that at best they can do some gardening and don’t mess with a river. I mean it’s common sense really don’t you think?

Of course there were exceptions. Many landscapers created beautiful gardens that are still in tact today. They created public parks which couldn’t be taken away from the community which are still here today.

I’m from Cardiff. I was born there in the 80’s and grew up there. Like most people from Cardiff I was absolutely fascinated with my home. There seemed to be something magical about the entire city that as a child I didn’t realise was unique to Cardiff.

Cardiff is the capitol of Wales but it hasn’t always been. In fact Cardiff has only been a city for just over a hundred years. To constitute a city you need to have at least one cathedral, which in Cardiff is Llandaff cathedral. Before that point Cardiff was the centre of the Welsh coal mining industry as well as other raw materials. Coal extracted from the coal seams found deep in the Welsh Valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taff was sent to Cardiff and exported around the world. Other ports such as Barry attempted to compete but only came second. Cardiff was made a city in 1905.

The 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Crichton Stuart, helped to develop the industry of Cardiff. The Butes were a wealthy Scottish family. John Stuart rebuilt Cardiff Castle which were Roman ruins at that point. He worked across different systems of business, design, science, faith, and belief to manage the economy of Cardiff. Formerly Cardiff had been a busy region of farms, villages, and a port. Cardiff would have been an ancient region with complex social relationships with other areas of Wales and the wider community of Great Britain. Trade is a very old system of business which works within society and culture as the life blood of their community. It’s essential to the management of a community and the country’s hierarchy.

The 3rd Marquess of Bute died in 1900. At this point Cardiff would have functioned as an international trade centre of a valuable resource essential to global society and world infrastructure. ‘The end is nigh’ would have been on every front newspaper for all sorts of reasons: It’s the turn of the century, the Church isn’t scientific, the abolishment of slavery, colonialism was running out of steam, and the powers that be would have had a good whiff of something called workers rights. Those incredible combustion chambers at the front carriage of a steam train would have needed an enormous amount of coal to function. Perhaps new technology was on the horizon?

World War One broke out in 1914 and lasted for four years which isn’t very long in war waging terms. It would have been fought on horse back and I haven’t seen photographic material of World War One. Only paintings. World War Two was essentially documented like much of the colonial enterprises at that point in time. ‘The port’s coal trade fell off dramatically after 1918 and ceased altogether in 1963,’ (Britannica, 2020) The entire industry and infrastructure of the region would have been decimated within a few decades. The 3rd Marquess of Bute was survived by four children who had died by the end of the fifties. A very important business, trade, and natural resource centre was essentially wiped off the map. It would have been methodical, and it’s written into the history books that the coal was then acquired from other countries such as China for less money and where there were fewer workers rights.

Cardiff today is a thriving, bustling, healthy economy. An important cultural and historical trade centre with international and global influence. I was educated there, I grew up there, and I am who I am because I was born there. It’s the reason I’m an artist.

I have two new works up on my portfolio. These two projects were an entire month in the making. I did preliminary drawings which I then lost and I was documenting the impact of Coronavirus on the local community. I also had to take a break again in a way and just let the impact of the last three months simmer down. I usually undertake a daily observational art study, I also blog several times through out the week, I like to capture fresh ideas and pin them to my social media profiles as soon as humanly possible. I feel like I’ve dropped the ball in a way.

Please do visit my portfolio and I would love to know what you think.

It’s Just Around The Corner.

Greetings. It’s the first of February and really – I can feel spring in the air already. Flowers have started to blossom and there has been many an afternoon spent with blue skies overhead. I’m working across several projects at the moment and progress is much slower than I would like, but something about having spring just around the corner fills me with that extra bit of energy to keep pushing forward.

Christmas was great, but there were a few things here and there that created more stress than I would have like over that period. I was attacked in the street near my home on boxing day. I managed to get away from the person unscathed but it was frightening. Typically if a complete stranger starts on me I just keep walking and they run out of enthusisam, but this guy decided to follow me. I reported it as you would but I felt quite shaken up for a couple of weeks and I’m making a point of not being by self when it’s dark out.

That brings me back to trauma. I’ve lived with the impression that trauma isn’t something that happens to everyone, or maybe it’s a little more subtle in other individual’s experiences and so they don’t really register it as trauma. My own experience feels brutal, it’s also often not seen as being valid and in some ways it’s ignored as something that happens to lots of people in contradiction to the point above, but then some how I am refused the right to feel any particular way about it. I do understand these persepctives up to a point, I’m probably guilty of it myself, but actually the point I wish to make is that I have no intentions of continually enduring trauma. Maybe that is the difference I wish to make to my own life that people who are strangers or even familar to me aren’t quite willing to accept. There are links within trauma, patterns and connections that I’ve been aware of since I was little, and I see those links play out long before they actually do happen.

As much as I felt I knew a fair bit about the real world as I was growing up, my awakening in my mid twenties was a genuine shock. As the monsters get bigger and their ties and threats become more apparant, you realise you’re just one person and it can be very difficult to come to terms with the nightmare you had as a child unfolding before your eyes. Especially when you’re trying to put your mascara on in the morning. I have so much I want to say, so much I want to do, but I no longer feel like I’m running out of time. It takes as long as it takes and with Gods grace I’ll get a bit more done tomorrow.

I’m indulging my love of film and theatre more and more. I’ve seen a couple of films this month that have stuck out for me. Firstly I saw The Gentlemen directed by Guy Ritchie. I’ve been having severe attacks when I go the cinema over the last year, it could be a mental health thing , it could be some form of epilepsy, but it means going to the cinema is a bit of risk and I really have to battle through if it happens because home is a long way away if it does. I wanted to see The Gentleman, I’m a big fan of Guy Ritchie’s earlier films Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, so it was a risk worth taking.

Watching a film about Toffs is like getting a humbug stuck in my throat. I mean I get it- they have cash. If I’d had the talent (*Winks*) and the good fortune to become a fashion designer it would probably be Toff cash I’d be relying on, if they’d actually had any interest in my pedigree and so on, which is part middle class English I’ll have you know. The thing is I’m much more at home with the concept of hard graft and I have actually grafted in my life time, so loads-a-money and making zlich effort gets on my tits a bit. I’d decided to go and see the film so I was in it for the long haul. I do love a Guy Ritchie film. You have drugs, violence, crime and the carnage that ensues as the King of the Jungle tries to maintain his empire. There’s the loss of lives that matter and lives that don’t, depending on who you are affiliated with. My own run ins and sobriety after my drug use as a young person means I’ve met a few characters like this myself, obviously with the kind of naivety young people have for the world they’re entering into, despite the fact they have actually seen Scarface. There was a point where I had a really hard time watching films on this subject matter and then I got over it: it would be much better to see a film about this kind of choas than to actually enter into that world itself. The gloss, glamour, tailoring, cigars, school-run-tanks, and £50 notes confetti does get your pulse racing but then you leave the theatre thinking “rather you than me.” I really enjoyed the film.

Very recently I saw Troop Zero starring Viola Davis on Amazon. It’s a film about a young woman who hopes to become part of an incredible opportunity offered by Nasa to a girl scout troop at a school in South America. Viola Davis works for the young woman’s father and begrudingly decides to help her earn her place in history. It’s an incredibly funny film that made me want to be a kid again and I can’t think of any other film that has made me feel that way in a long time. Viola Davis has to face her own nemisis and the young woman has to face hers too. The rivers, swamps and small towns of Southern America have the kind of charm an aligator has, but I really felt for the characters of this film and I kinda wanted some chicken that had exploded all over the barbecue. It’s a really great film about the debt we have to one another, and if you don’t cry then you need a check up.

I may have found myself a studio space so I’m very excited about that. I’ll be able to figure out how I’m going to manage my work across platforms because I am particularly fond of Folksy and Society6, and whether I need a one stop shop for my works. I desperately need to start selling at fairs so hoepfully that will come through soon too. It’s exciting: there are ideas that I can’t keep up with, teeny weeny budgets that enforce creativity when you’re day dreaming, and the topsy-turvy events of daily life just to keep me on my toes.

Finally my social media links have been set to private just to ensure a basic level of security. My portfolio remains open as does this page here on WordPress. Please feel free to connect if you wish. I will be back on the 1st of March. Have a great month!