It seems a curious subject to choose for a public work of art, this mural near the centre of Cardiff. And, as with any state-funded art commission, there must have a few bureaucratic hurdles to jump before final approval was granted. When the artist made his pitch, did anyone on the committee laugh or splutter or quibble, or did they nod sagely, as befits men and women of the cultural establishment?
A small wooden church on Cardiff Bay testifies to the most significant influx of Norwegians to Britain since the Viking invasions a thousand years earlier. These nineteenth-century Norwegians were more peaceable than their Viking ancestors, interested in trade rather than pillage. And unlike those earlier visitors they worshipped Christ, not Odin.
Bute Street runs, almost as straight as a crane boom, from the centre of Cardiff down through what was once Tiger Bay. As a place, a community, an idea, Tiger Bay is no more, demolished, socially cleansed, and rebranded out of existence.
Back in the olden days, in the long-ago twentieth century, there was a teenage pastime called ‘Hanging around record shops’. The pastime attracted all types: the boys (mostly) and the girls (sometimes), the cool and the gauche, the loners and the crews.
A wall is almost always just a wall, but there is a wall in Cardiff that is a menagerie in stone. By Cardiff Castle, animals and birds sit and sprawl atop the gables of a wall, frozen creatures gazing out over Castle Street.
Now behind the eyes and secrets of the dreamers in the streets rocked to sleep by the sea, see the titbits and topsyturvies, bobs and buttontops, bags and bones, ash and rind and dandruff and nailparings, saliva and snowflakes and moulted feathers of dreams, the wrecks and sprats and shells and fishbones, whale-juice and moonshine and small salt fry dished up by the hidden sea. (Under Milk Wood – Dylan Thomas)