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Emerging creatives given centre stage in St. David’s Day exhibition

Today, ten pieces of Cardiff-inspired art have been unveiled by FOR Cardiff in a St. David’s Day digital exhibition that champions young creative talent in the capital and a sector hit hard by the pandemic.

Cardiff Castle in charcoal, a city centre map embroidered with Welsh wool, and portraits of some of the best-known characters in the city are just a few of the commissions being showcased in the all-day art exhibition.

The selection of young creatives, aged 18-25, were commissioned by FOR Cardiff to develop works of art that told a story about Cardiff. In just three-weeks, ten pieces have been produced and are being revealed to the public as part of the St. David’s Day celebrations.

The creators are also being given the stage to describe their creative process, their inspiration and how the pandemic has affected their industry.

With economic output down 52% in the UK’s creative sectors, artists are among the most affected group by the current climate.

FOR Cardiff’s ‘Creatives of the Capital’ is giving the young artists an extra boost, offering free guidance and support from professionals, along with £500 to develop their pieces.

25-year-old portrait artist, Robin Bonar-Law, whose painting captures Cardiff’s most recognisable high street characters, explains:

“Living in Cardiff for the last 5 years, you walk through the streets and you come across some extraordinary characters. I’ve focused my paintings on Ninjah – still notorious now for his dreadlocks and playing the bins with drumsticks – and the late busking legend ‘Toy Mic Trev’ whose personality and performances captured the hearts of many.

“While the city changed around them, these characters always stayed the same. These people don’t just represent Cardiff to me, they are Cardiff.”

Prior to the pandemic, St David’s Day would see thousands of people parade the streets of the city centre, but the exhibition allows people to still immerse themselves in Cardiff’s diverse culture, inviting the public to champion local talent from their homes.

Ophelia Dos Santos (22) from Cardiff, who has produced a patchwork embroidery of Cardiff city centre, explains why the centre means so much to her:

“My father is a stone mason who worked on restoring the iconic anteater sculpture that stands guard on the castle wall. My grandfather, a carpenter, also restored artefacts at the National Museum.

“My family have been integral in keeping Cardiff’s culture alive, so I feel like it’s my turn to contribute to Cardiff’s culture too. My map embroidery shows some of Cardiff’s best-known landmarks and some of the quirky faces who I believe are an indispensable part of the city’s heritage.”

The campaign follows on from the successful ‘Our creative Cardiff storywall’ project run by Creative Cardiff last year which saw 14 artists commissioned to tell their story of Cardiff. One of the chosen artists, Keith Murrell, sat on the panel of judges to choose the young creatives to commission for the St David’s Day exhibition.

Adrian Field, FOR Cardiff’s Executive Director, said: This project has highlighted the diverse, vibrant community of young creatives we are lucky to have in our city. What better way to celebrate our spectacular Welsh heritage this St David’s Day?

“FOR Cardiff is committed to protecting and strengthening culture in Cardiff’s city centre, and our exhibition allows people to experience Cardiff-inspired art in all different forms, including dance, textile, song, illustration and graphic design, from the comfort of their homes.”

FOR Cardiff is also making plans to display the pieces in art across the city, ready for people to enjoy in person as restrictions ease.

The ten commissioned pieces are being unveiled across the day on FOR Cardiff’s social media channels – @FORCardiff / @FOR_Cardiff – and people are encouraged to support the young artists with ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

More information can be found by visiting FOR Cardiff’s website:

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