If you’ve taken a walk through Cardiff city centre recently you might have spied some paintings adorning its nooks and crannies.
Colourful, eclectic designs now breathe life into the forgotten columns outside the entrance to the now empty Debenhams, while quirky cartoon-like murals animate blank spaces in Cardiff Market.
Customers at Peppermint Bar & Kitchen might have also noticed some curious new decoration for the seating area outside.
Read more: The stories behind Cardiff’s most striking murals
Even alternative club Metros has been given a new look, with huge, bright geometric shapes now emblazoned on the outside of the building.
This playful initiative is PWSH – a pilot street art project in the capital that was commissioned by BID FOR Cardiff, that aims to re-energise the city centre and imagine its vibrant future.
As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, nine creatives and artists have joined forces to celebrate people returning to the heart of the city.
During the last week, armed with paintbrushes and posca pens, they have been hard at work producing joyful and colourful artwork to form a mural trail in the city centre.
Curator and Creative Producer Rachel Kinchin is the brains behind the project and has been overseeing its delivery.
She said the response so far had been “incredible”, adding: “It’s just brought so much joy. Like, literally, all ages, all types of people just coming and chatting to us about the artwork and loving it – and coming back day on day, saying how much it’s elevated their mental health that day, it’s making them feel safe.”
Keen to celebrate the breadth of local creative talent, she has been working with Cardiff-born and Cardiff-based emerging and established visual artists.
She explained: “So many artists are side-hustling – it’s not yet their full career.
“I wanted to work with a variety of people who were pushing themselves beyond the boundaries of what they’ve done previously, as well as people who are a bit more established.”
PWSH explores Welsh identity in Cardiff beyond typical Welsh icons like daffofils and dragons – instead choosing to amplify lived experiences.
“Temeka, one of the artists, all of her art is celebrating her afro hair and she’s Welsh born and bred. So that to her is her lived experience. Her dad’s from Nigeria, her mum is Welsh,” Rachel said.
“I didn’t want to give too tight a curatorial. I like to keep it real – I like the art to be accessible, inclusive, diverse. I wanted us to look forward – to see together what we want our city to look like. And it’s colourful, it’s vibrant and it’s celebrating difference.”
Co-curator Marcus Smith (Marca Design), who is also the artist behind the geometric design on Metros, said he had tried to tie in aspects of local architecture.
PWSH comes hot on the heels of several other street art projects in Cardiff, notably Unify, the creative collective behind both the My City My Shirt and My Cymru My Shirt murals.
FOR Cardiff Executive Director Adrian Field said: ‘We’re thrilled to have commissioned the PWSH street art project and to see it come to life now. Our place-making agenda for the city centre recognises the vital role of arts and culture in the urban landscape and to be able to work with such an array of talented local artists has been a pleasure. We have ambitious plans to centre culture in Cardiff life over the next five years and PWSH is just the tip of the iceberg.’
What do you think of PWSH? Let us know in the comments below.