This will be the 4th time we have strolled to and fro over the earth from Merthyr to Roath on the journey to Made in Spring.
It all started in 2014 under the name the “Red Shoes”. We then returned in 2015 and 16 under the banner of the Red Route. The red theme stems from the fact that Merthyr was the first place in world that saw a red banner being raised as a sign of protest during the 1831 Merthyr Rising. That event saw some 7,000 to 10,000 people marching under that red flag which later was adopted as the internationally symbol of struggle, injustice and socialism.
It has been my privilege to have walked all three previous Red Routes and this shall be my fourth. It’s a 27 mile ritual, over two days that begins in the Red House in Merthyr and ends on Plasnewydd Road for Made in Spring and the start of the Spring arts season the next day. It works out at about 17 miles the first day and around 10 the next.
The thing that frequently surprises me about the Red Route is the look of daunting disbelief that comes across peoples faces when they hear the mileage and the route. But the truth is it really isn't that bad.
I mean it’s not like we are doing S.A.S. selection or anything, it’s just a pleasant stroll through some beautiful Valley countryside, past some incredibly interesting remains of the industrial revolution with frequent cultural stopping off points along the way for performances, art work and readings to watch and ponder over as you walk at your own pace along the Taff Trail. Plus you’re surrounded by some lovely people, get to enjoy a somewhat excess amount of tea and cake stops and thats not mentioning the Made in Roath guide team who know the Taff Trail so well they can (and in my case have often) walked the trail in the pitch dark, at 2 a.m., somewhat tipsy from the pub without falling over a single tree. (Horses are another matter mind.)
The most challenging thing about the Red Route is the same with any distance walk. It’s getting the mindset right. The walk isn't hard at all, it’s on a good path and to be honest the whole trail is parallel to a train line so you’re never more than a few miles from a train station.
Its all about the mindset, if you approach the walk with doubt or uncertainly then you’ll probably have a bad time but if you approach it with a sense of adventure, a positive attitude and a cheerful idea of fortitude then you’ll love it.
Even if the weather turns wet. Some of the best walks I’ve done have been where it’s been hammering down with rain but because of the people around me and the mindset that “yeah this is pretty rubbish but hey I’m in it so may as well enjoy it and at least it’ll be an amusing story to tell”.
In some strange way it’s an encounter into the Sublime. (That strange artistic/philosophic idea by Edward Burke of experiencing awe in the strongest physical elements of nature.) Approach the Red Route with a positive mindset and you’ll have a great time. Oh and of course wear comfortable footwear, either boots or trainers and maybe bring a bottle of water.
Do join us for Red Route 2017. These days we rarely get the chance to walk. Time is often against us in our busy world, finding the time to walk and just think is sadly a rarity. One of the beauties of the Red Route is that it allows you this time to slow travel and ponder. To walk and not run. To journey rather than travel. Even if you can only join us for one of the two days you’ll still enjoy it. Thanks for reading, hope you’re having a good day.
P.S. One great tip is to wear two pairs of socks, a thin pair and a thick pair. This stops your foot rubbing your shoe and cuts down on blisters.
One of the largest venues in this years Made in Roath festival was 28 the Parade. This former Edwardian family home, very kindly lent to us for the week by Cardiff council, played a key role in the happenings and events this year hosting the launch celebration, the Made in Roath Open as well as exhibitions such as “Ain’tnozooinRoath, Pillow multimedia exhibition, Nonarchym Sensors and Sensibility and “remember always to imagine you know me”.
The history of 28 the Parade is worth mentioning. Built by an Edwardian shipping magnet as his home with the unusual feature of a dome like tower on the roof which contained a telescope so that he could watch his ships coming and going from Cardiff docks. At the turn of the century Cardiff docks was actually busier than New York with ships leaving bound for every port in the world. You can still see the owners family crests on the upper parts of 28 the Parade. After the shipping magnate had died and Cardiff dock was in decline, the property was given to the local education board where it become an adult learning centre. Until quite recently it operated as a language school.
Currently uninhabited and up for sale 28 the Parade briefly came to life again, becoming a centre for the arts, a home to creativity and entertainment and a place to enjoy and think before going forward into the next chapter of its life.
On the opening Sunday we saw a fantastic musical celebration taking place,with lights being projected onto the back of the building in one of the most technology advanced things MiR has ever done. We watched as blues and purples rolled over the 120 year old stone work, creating pattens and shapes interplaying with the Edwardian stone work. Below this a fantastic mixture of musicians played, entertaining the crowd who were gathered on the grass in the cool October air.
Later on in the week 28 the Parade played host to the MiR open. This open exhibition of work was a great success and generated a lot of interest with people voting for their favourite work. Meanwhile below in the basement an interesting series of rooms led visitors into another world of work with Sensors and Sensibility. Opposite the Open we had Nonarchy and as you ventured outside Pillow multimedia exhibition was located in the back building.
28 the Parade was a fantastic venue which served the festival well leaving everyone who visited with fond memories. I doubt I will ever pass the building again without remember the week it was host to so much art. Whatever the future holds for 28 the Parade, be it offices, flats or just a hollow shell containing only memories it will always have been, for a brief point in its history, a gallery.
We cannot go any further without mentioning the amazing Cross Stitching which appeared all around Roath during the festival. This was one of the most surprising and fantastic aspect of the festival. We knew it was going to happen but we had no idea how large and how broad this project would be.
I don't think there was a street in Roath or Adamsdown that didn't have some Cross Stitching on it somewhere.
Put together by Cross paths CDF this project, without question brightened and brought creativity to the streets. It was amazing to watch a stream of tweets and posts coming in on the Monday of Made in Roath by people making the school run or heading to work and just encountering these cross stitch interventions.
It was a fantastic project and one that is a personal favourite of this years festival, below is just a tiny few of the many fantastic cross stitch creations that appeared all around Roath.
Thanks for reading, we hope you have a great week.
No one would believe that in the last months of 2016 human affairs were being observed and scrutinised by minds not of this Earth. Our actions and aspirations were under inspection in ways that our minds would find inconceivable. No indication was given that as people watched the endless dramas of reality TV, that their own activities were being watched, judged and followed by beings alien to us. Few, if any, considered life in the solar system but intellects advanced in ways of science that we are too cavemen followed our days with keen interest and slowly and surely they scheduled their designs against us.
It was a Sunday night when the great disillusionment began. I was sat at my lodgings aimlessly spending an evening viewing cat vines on youtube when a thunderous explosion and a tremendous crash shock my humble Roath dwelling. Bewildered I hurried to the window and perceived a strange glow radiating from the direction of Roath Park. I hurriedly checked twitter only to discover a meteor hitting the lake was trending (#roathmeteor) . Bored at home and keen for entertainment I grabbed a coat and rushed to the park. As I began to draw closer a large crowd was already gathering. I bumped into a friend, Ogilvy, an astronomer. He preceded to describe to me the ball of fire and rock that had fallen from the sky striking the very centre of the lake. As we chatted more and more people crowded around, eager to see the crash. It was now dark and apart from the occasional ripple of a swan, the water was now still. Not a trace of the meteor was visible apart from a strange green glow from the waters surface.
Becoming increasingly bored Ogilvy and I deiced to take a selfie before retiring to a public house. While discussing which instagram filter to use we became aware of a rumbling noise which proceeded to increase in volume. Stranger still the surface of the lake began to shine with an eerie, unearthly green glow. Curious, the crowds grew closer to the lake keen to tweet and hashtag these strange developments. Then, without warning, a tremendous horn followed by a large quickening wave rose from the centre of the lake. Stranger still I noticed the swans, normally ever present on the lake, had suddenly disappeared. Not a sign of wildlife could be seen.
From the centre of the lake, I saw a large oval shape emerging from the water. Aghast. I watched mesmerised. The object kept rising to reveal a rounded ball of shining metal with a green oval ring in its centre. The thing kept rising and was now seen to be supported upon three ever growing legs of some thin straw like construction. Fully risen it towered over us and the lake. Taller than the surrounding trees. It stood regarding us. Lake water dripped from it’s moon drenched metalic frame.
Another deafening horn blast rang out. The green ring began to glow. A sense of foreboding came over me, a premonitions of immediate disaster. I turned and began to run. Something in my flight spread to the crowd. Others began to turn. More and more joining my dash. The green glow, brighter now than ever before. From its disk like centre a beam shot straight out. Hitting the Roath Park clock tower. Covering the building in the same eerie green glow before flashing white, leaving nothing in its place. The clock tower had vanished.
The green ray shone again. Turning on the public toilets, cars and anything else it could reach. Everything that fell into the rays path vanished. The invading machine (for an invasion must certainly be what this was) began to move forward with surprising speed. Within a moment it had raised itself up from the lake and began to stride down the street, spreading terror as it headed for the city centre.
Word had quickly spread and some attempt at halting the machine had been made. The authorities raised what arms they could but to little effect. It was bows and arrows against a tank. As the invader reached the corner of Albany Road, leaving behind it a path of disappearance, it halted and once again its terrible horn spoke, sending alarm and horror into the streets. It was as if all the learning and innovations of mankind over the last four thousand years amounted to nothing against this awful monster. Disappear and fear began to spread before the creatures movements. A great flight had begun. But just then, as all hope appeared lost redemption sped towards us. In the black grey waters of Cardiff bay, a mile from the creatures terror, our salvation, the Thunderchild entered the fray……
Of all her Majesty's Ships the Thunderchild, the newest and largest frigate of the Royal Navy had by serendipity or fate, been only a few miles away when the creature first struck, alarmed at the initial reports it had powered to the city to provide what assistance it could. Now as the creature stood on the corner of Albany Road, the Thunderchild locked onto its radar signature and within moments had fired a deadly salvo of kraken missiles at the metal beast. These to any mortal creature would mean certain death but there was no telling how this bombardment would, if it could effect the monster.
The Kraken’s speed across the rooftops of the city and like a bird of pray upon its quarry they slammed into that shining round circular head sending the creature to everyones great surprise stumbling backwards. The creature swayed in the air for a moment before crashing down to earth, falling backwards into the street, crushing everything underneath it’s falling path. With this the rain of terror and destruction was over, the monster had been slain and as we thought, that was the end of that. Of course we were wrong.
I was fortunate enough to see the creatures end, having legged it from the park but to my shock discover myself to be on Albany Road at the final moment. I of course took a few selfies with the remains before the area was cordoned off by the authorities. At this point and exhausted at the chain of events I preceded home to my logins for a cup of tea and a jammy dodger, living but one street away it was a short walk. Upon entering my home I was surprised to find a pool of water upon my hallway floor. Oh I grumbled “is there not a house in Roath without a damp problem” I wondered, dismayed by this I entered my front room without turning on a light in fear of shorting out the electrics and absentmindedly checked twitter only to discover the #alienescapedfromcrash trending. Bewildered by this I sat down in an arm chair turning on a lamp. It was then I saw it, for it being the best word to describe the thing opposite me. In my front room a pale green thing regarded me with perishing cold eyes. It was around human size with a large balled head in size and shape to a large football with three green eyes staring straight at me. Below its head a body of undesirable shape and size protruded two small arms with claw like hands and behind these six bent spider like legs. Terrified I sat there, unable to move, frozen to the spot. Just then the thing leaped forward through the air. I fell backwards into my chair, the creature pinning me there. It lowered its head down closer to mine and looking into my eyes its large gapping mouth opened showing razor sharp, gleaming teeth. I honestly believed my end had come and unable to move I readied myself for my fate.
“How did I do?” the creature asked excitedly. I was shocked at this, surprised as to be not being eaten. I couldn't reply I was still frozen with terror. “Well how did I do? was it dramatic enough, I could of gone on a bit longer but was concerned about being interrupted by an Ad Break”. “Right okay” I finally managed to stutter back “You were fine, very dramatic” I said bewildered by this. “Oh thank you” said the monster easing up and allowing me to unpin myself from the chair. “So do you think I can now have a returning part in the show?” the creature asked eagerly. Finally some sense came back to me and something in the creatures friendly tone comforted me to ask “Im so sorry but what are you taking about?”. The creature looked taken aback by this and replied “for your program, reality TV, I am of course a big fan. I would love to be on the show and thought an epic and dramatic landing would surely get me on”. “What show” I blurted out “Made in Crawley, of course” the creature replied My mind suddenly brought up images of some reality TV program which was becoming popular upon the box, I believed it followed the same formate as all the others, I realised what had happened in a flash. “Oh, no, I think you have been mistaken, we are Made in Roath not Made in Crawley, thats near London somewhere, this is Cardiff, if you like Im sure I can get you directions?” “Oh I am most terrible sorry” the creature replied with a very caring tone “I must of entered the wrong information in to my SatGav” “SatGav?” I inquired “Yes its like your SatNav but its called Gav” “Well its very easily done” I replied thinking about the time my Satnav had driven me into a river “Happens to the best of us, technology aye”
“Quite so, quite so, cant beat a good map” the creature agreed.
The strange creature from outer space seemed very friendly and so I invited him for tea and since it wasn't every day you get an alien from a distance planet in your front room, we had some after eight mints too.
The creature who's name was Phil preceded to tell me how with all our TV signals being sent into space that earth programming had become very popular in the sola system and he was a big fan, especially with Made in Crawley and decided to see if he could do a cameo. We had a good chat at which point he informed me that all the things the vanishing ray had vanished would reappear shortly having not been destroyed but simply moved into another dimension through a phase shifting technology that was developed by home removal companies on his home world and his walking machine was not really damaged just parked. At this point I felt compelled to tell him of the high rate of parking fines in the city at which he ran off to move his craft before it got ticketed. He was a lovely chap, we are still Facebook friends.
So ends the strange tale of the Made in Roath 2016 Halloween tale of terror (for parking tickets are very terrifying) Happy Halloween and have a great night.
One of the most inventive and technically advanced exhibitions of Made in Roath 2016 was the incredible Moth.
Built by Charlotte Biszewski, Nick Willsher & George Rumney for Ensemble, sister group of Rusty Squid and housed in the tropical paradise of the Roath Park Botanic gardens conservatory. The Moth, an interactive, mechanical, responsive creature of gears and motors responded to the actions of touch and gentleness.
The Moth created a bridge between robotics and art (a bridge I personally hope is constructed more often). Built by means that I'm sure to these brilliant engineering wizards, is simple and straightforward enough but to me, experiencing the Moth in the warm, green tropical environment of the Roath park conservatory, seemed like the very magic of story books and lost forgotten enchanted worlds brought back into reality.
To look upon this strange creature, studying its paper thin wings and hardened leather body a curious wonder came across the mind compelling you to speak in whispers and quieter tones when approaching and touching the Moth. This robotic creature demanded respect and admiration when in its presences. To watch the gentle opening of its wings and the movement of its arms as it approved of your kind connection with it’s being, recalling memories of turn of the century magicians automations and all the wonder of past years.
The memory of the moth will remain with me and I’m sure with everyone who saw it in that pleasant setting as a highlight of Made in Roath 2016.
So Made in Roath is over for another year, the art work is being taken down, the streets are cleared of paint, chalk and puppets (we think, some of them got lose). The gazebos are making their way back to their homes ready for when Made in Roath next calls. The volunteers, helpers, artists and everyone who opened up their homes for the festival have been or are being thanked endlessly and some of the Made in Roath team have actually managed to get some sleep. It was a fantastic week filled with many of the same delights that thrill us every October and have grown to become a favourite within our hearts, as well as many new creative treats and happenings that have become lodge in the fondness of our minds and I’m sure will go on to exist in the form of photographs taken and shared upon the social web which we’ll all look back on with smiles and joy as time passes and the delights slip from memory into recollection and once again into the tender warmth of reminiscence.
Of not just the events, exhibitions and happenings but the moments we saw them, the people we were with, the locations we were in and places we walked past, the journeys we made, the new people we met, the times we shared together. As we were brought together as a group, whether you were a maker or viewer, regardless of who you are, where you come from, what you do or what you think, we all were all in one place for this, we all shared in that experience which was Made in Roath 2016.
I’ll be posting about certain aspects and moments of Made in Roath 2016 over the next few weeks, there’s a lot to post about, from Welcome House to Global Home, from the amazing cross stitch happenings to the incredible Moth, from the poetry readings to the exhibitions. To be honest I didn't see everything, I don't think I even managed to see a third of what was going on, there was just so much happening, and taking place everywhere. I am always amazed at the response and enthusiasm to which people do things, put on things, show and make things, display work, read and sing during one week in October, all in one small Cardiff community, all for Made in Roath.
This amazement can only be topped by one thing and that is the team behind Made in Roath. It comes as a surprise to most people that Made in Roath is all organised, put together and run by just a handful of people. This year we had around 100 venues with who knows how many different bits of art and culture happening and all this was put together by about 11 people. There were more Dwarves going on Gandalf magical quest to slay a dragon in the Hobbit than there are organisers of Made in Roath. In fact we are only two more then the Fellowship of the Ring in Lord of the Rings, thinking about it more people have walked on the moon (12 people) than there were in the organisation team. Of course this very small (frequently sleep deprived team) cannot put on the festival alone, there is also the wonderfully amazingly group of volunteers, helpers and supporters who all come together and help in the most amazing ways to put things together and make things happen, not to mention all the amazing homes, businesses and galleries that show or help display work and the fantastic people who work there, plus the countless number of people who support Made in Roath in so many different ways.
But at the heart of this amazing group there are just 11 people, all meeting in 1 persons kitchen which acts as the MiR office. (Im not one of the 11 so I can say this) but I am constantly amazed at what they do and how they do it. Every year the festival gets bigger and better, every year more people come and enjoy that very special thing which is Made in Roath, all thanks to them and to them on behalf of everyone I say Thank you.