A recent commission at Parc Prison in Bridgend. Parc do a great job in pioneering new approaches to the Prison’s environment, which in return create a better relationship between inmates, staff and visitors, as well as reducing incidents within the walls. Parc are a flagship prison in Europe, often receiving visitors from other establishments all over the country and abroad, who come to see how these “radical” new approaches have improved things. Ive done a few murals in the Prison now… with more to come in the future. I’m very happy to be a part of creating positive change within the system.
Ive recently been doing a lot more tattooing mixed in with my usual Graffiti work. Anything Graffiti-related is always welcome! The Fat-cap tattoo style is a firm favourite of mine, painting a tag on a wall with spray paint, photographing it and using it for reference. These tattoos have been done on fellow spray-can wielding reprobate and come as a pair… the cap is a cover-up over an old tattoo, and the “Anja” tag is a celebration of his other half More like this please!!
A brand new Gym has opened up near The Boiler House Graffiti Gallery in Canton. Our new neighbours, “The Compound”, asked us to paint some indoor murals and signage featuring muscle-bound characters such as The Hulk, Popeye, Welsh Dragons etc. This is the first instalment placed over the entrance hall in the main building. More to come..
Phase 2 of the Pontcanna changing rooms project was to create a huge Welsh Dragon on the side of the building using the title “Capital for Sport”. A celebration of Welsh Sports across the country and the pride that binds us all together. Next step is the front of the building… where we will be celebrating some of the Cardiff based International Sports stars that have helped build such a great sporting capital.
I was asked to do some more work in Senghenydd this year following the success of a similar project undertaken in Abertridwr last year. The project brief was to work with the local primary school to come up with ideas for an old railway bridge that used to span the tracks of the old line that used to carry coal from the Universal pit.
The young people wanted to create a memorial piece about the tragic mining disasters of 1901 and 1913 in Senghenydd, both events that still affect the community as a whole to this day.
Senghenydd’s Universal Pit was by far the most significant employer in the area. In 1901 a huge explosion in the pit killed 81 miners, with one survivor being pulled from the mine shaft. This was bad enough for the community, however worse was still to come. In 1913 an explosion ripped through the underground mines, and of 950 men working that day, 439 miners and one rescuer lost their lives. Despite many roof falls and raging fires, many men and boys were rescued from the rubble, but the conditions were tough, and the rescue attempts lasted for 3 weeks even though all hope of finding survivors had long passed.
It was estimated that over 1,000 people in the area were bereaved by the Senghenydd disaster. Nearly all of the families in the town were affected, in one way or another. It was said that there was a victim in every household. Enquiries found that numerous faults could be laid at the door of the owners and managers, yet, despite this, the grand total of fines and compensation came only £24. One Newspaper was quoted to tally the cost of each miners life as ‘£0 1s 1 1/4d’. In other words, by today’s rates, only 6 pence. The Senghenydd pit disaster is remembered as the most lethal and tragic mining disaster in British history.
Having worked in the area a number of times over the years, (and created a number of murals on the subject), I am well schooled on the subject, so we set about making pans for the mural. We decided to tie in the bridge by using a concept similar to a project we did last year in the next town by creating a historical piece in black and white on one side, and a colour version on the opposite side representing the beauty of the area. We used old photos from the day of the 1913 disaster as reference, strong images that still reflect the community’s feeling of loss today. Whilst I was painting, people told me stories about their grandfathers or relatives who either died in the accidents or had lucky escapes due to being “on afternoons” that day.
I love this about my job. I often seem to act as a direct link between peoples memories, history, and the preservation of both. I feel honoured to be able to help communities create lasting visual pieces that celebrate or reflect on their own particular culture and history. In this case, Its a privilege to help create such a dedication to the memories of those who lost their lives.
I was approached by The Harbour Authority to work on a very cool new project, creating a mural to pay homage to the old historical Ely Subway. This was a pedestrian tunnel that ran from what is now Plas Pamir, beneath the River Ely to the area where Cardiff Bay Yacht Club now stands. It was a thoroughfare linking both banks of the river – allowing pedestrians, including hundreds of sailors and dockworkers, to cross the Ely without negotiating the muddy river banks and taking the chain ferry.
Ive read lots old stories about this Subway whilst doing research for the project, it was opened in 1900 and used until 1936. It was then re-opened for use as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War and for dock operations when Penarth Docks were taken over by the US Navy in the run-up to D Day. Both entrances were finally bricked up in 1963.
An awesome bit or relatively unknown history of Cardiff’s Bay area and Penarth, this was a fun project to work on. I looked at old images of ships and the docks, and also used an old photograph showing a worker leaving the tunnel for the main central piece in the mural. A number of old timers stopped to talk of their own memories of the tunnel, which was great to hear first hand experiences of the subject.
You never know… one day there may be murals of long forgotten landmarks that we all take for granted in our everyday life, wherever we reside.
This was a fun job to do, and a somewhat nostalgic one too! One of my first “proper” commissions around 16/17 years ago was to paint a mural in this very room! An old friend of mine I knew through throwing ourselves down stairs and attacking curbs on skateboards was partly responsible for the creation of this building in St Mellons, and he got me on board (pardon the pun) as he could clearly see more talent in me as an artist rather than a part time ankle-twister. I have a lot to thank Dai for, he was, and still is, one of those golden individuals who always looks out for other people, and would bend over backwards to help anyone! He was a few years older, but never looked down on anyone younger than him in that patronising way people can do. He was one of the first to encourage me to do something a bit more productive with a spray can than I was used to. Anyway, I didn’t mean this to turn into a Dai “bloody” Hankey (thats another story) tribute, but like I said… Nostalgia plays a part in this.
Fast forward to 2016, and I was asked, completely unrelated to past times, to come and give the Beacon Centre youth lounge another make-over, in a geometric and pattern based style. I was only happy to be of service once again!
This mural is the first of 3 stages to transform the outside of Pontcanna changing rooms and inject some much needed love into the old buildings. There has been lots of work going in inside the building, which is home to various Rubgy and Football clubs and groups in the Cardiff area, and we are doing our bit to help add some colour and vibrancy to the outside walls. The changing rooms sit next to the beautiful Bute Park which stretches 130 acres with the River Taff running through the heart. The brief for this section of the mural was to “mirror” the pathway and view of Pontcanna fields that the wall faces, which is a lined with huge trees and the river in the distance.
This is a very popular footpath for cyclists, walkers and counters alike, hopefully this mural will help enhance the journey for everyone who passes, whatever the weather.
Whitchurch psychiatric hospital has been a major landmark in Cardiff and South Wales for many years. The amazing buildings were built in 1908 to house around 750 patients, and the original buildings covered over 5 acres. It was self – contained, had its own generators, water towers and even its own farm. During World War 2 part of the hospital was turned over to the military, becoming the largest emergency service hospital in South Wales.
Unfortunately, its time as a Hospital has now come to an and. Which brings me to this project. The site at Llandough Hospital has expanded to house a brand new psychiatric hospital as well as other new additions, and I was asked to create a mural in gardens of the new building. This was a very interesting brief in a very interesting setting. I was asked to provide a statement about the finished product and my thoughts behind it. Here it is.
Title – “Shangri La”