During our first year we offered a programme of ’52 Things’ made with and for the city’s creative community to showcase the fantastic people and places in our city. You can find the full 52 here.

Last week we visited g39 to talk about Creative Cardiff with artists working on the UNIT[e] project. We wanted to find out more about their work, the challenges they face and their thoughts on Creative Cardiff.

g39 is an artist-run gallery in Cardiff. Each year they host a group of artists and curators for a ten week period of production and experimentation. Through an open call they invite artists to locate their practice in g39’s modular units alongside a peer group. During UNIT(e) the artists test ideas, produce new work and experiment in a critical and supportive studio community.

We held a discussion with the artists to find out their perceptions of Cardiff as a creative city, and the ideas they have for the network. The UNIT(e) project has brought together artists living and working Cardiff alongside those from across the UK. Those new to Cardiff told us how they found it a smaller city than they expected, but felt the city had made strong investments in contemporary public art.

Those living and working in the city wanted to see more spaces like g39 developed to provide more studio space. They appreciated spaces such as the recently closed Abacus, a central gallery space they felt important to the art scene. They also discussed the move of Cardiff school of Art & Design from Howard Gardens to Llandaff and the impact this has had on the profile of student art in the city centre. They were enthusiastic about the idea of empty shop spaces to share and show their work.

One intriguing aspect of our discussion was around the professionalisation of artistic practice. The artists told us they would be attracted to a hub space which provided a professional setting in which to meet curators, funders and buyers. The artists also discussed the Cardiff city art map that documented gallery and studio spaces across the city and how they would like to see it maintained and updated. They also suggested the creation of a Cardiff Art Festival where within a dedicated period of time new artists would be spotlighted and given exhibition space to showcase new works.  

After our discussion the artists took me round their projects and I was inspired by the breadth of work. Projects included an exploration of performative cities, explorations of space with wood and canvas, the deconstruction and reconstruction of ceramics, the use of the performative state of the body and an additional project tearing and redesigning the rules for the g39 library space.

The projects will culminate in an activity week from the 16-19 March in which the artists will show their progressed work. 

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