Breakin’ the Bay is a yearly Hip Hop festival held at The Welsh Millennium centre in Cardiff Bay. This year I was asked to do a drop-in mural workshop all day during the event. 2016 will always be known as the year of the Graffiti Dragon for me, as I’ve done lots of these commissions for people this year, and thats exactly what the good people at BtB wanted. Who am I to complain?! Perfect for photo-opportunities in the heart of tourist-Wales.
Every now and then someone asks you to do something a little different. This wall was one of those occasions… a geometric hummingbird and landscape / skycap was the brief… sounds good! We like it outside of the box….
Every year we head up to Pwll Caerog farm and the home of Celtic Camping to do some more work around the site. We’ve knocked out about 8 murals up there over the years… inside and outside the barns and courtyards. We are very involved with the legendary annual Blue Lagoon festival which is held at the site every year, and we also represented at the Really Wild food festival which is in its 2nd year. Ian the farmer asked us to create a backdrop to his new sandpit on the site, using the graphics and images from the festivals flyers. We also held Graffiti workshops with some of the kids who attended the 2 day festival, creating work on boards.
Always a pleasure and never a chore, this site is one of our favourite places in Wales.
This is a new style I’ve been working on… mixing contrasting imagery such as Flowers and Skulls, but trying to paint them in a different way. Ive been looking at lots of watercolour paintings, and figured I could try and pay homage to the old styles using spray paint. Ive been keeping this wall on the back burner for a while, waiting until I had a good idea to use it for. Hopefully this wall qualifies… If not, well no pain, no gain 😉
The third phase of the Pontcanna changing rooms project was painted in May… perfect timing as the Euros was fully under way and Wales was kicking ass! It was down-tools all over the country every match day, and rightly so as the boys did us proud!
This mural featured Cardiff based Welsh sports heroes… such as Colin Jackson, Tanni Grey-Thompson and Sam Warburton. Unfortunately these guys were all overshadowed (understandably) by Gareth Bale, who was performing spectacularly on the pitch at the time of painting. Fear not though… everyone was happy, with both Colin Jackson and Sam Warburton re-tweeting their respective parts of the mural. Even the papers and Wales online took full advantage and featured the mural in articles and various media outlets. Check the article from Wales online here – http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/local-news/amazing-mural-gareth-bale-been-11510034
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.