On an early Winter’s evening, close to the intersection of Newport Road, a large crowd gathers in the yellow light spilling out from City Road onto the car park of G39 arts centre. The event organised by Made in Roath, an arts organisation, was a night walk with undisclosed artistic events across the backstreets of Cardiff.
After an introduction the crowd followed a snaking course across City Road, stopping to group around poetry, storytelling and psychogeography, and reacting to the city’s environment as we openly moved around the streets. Through more backstreets, lit up gardens, a yurt of Cardiff history, a garage lot transformed into a space for baked potatoes and vodka with live violin music, and finally down the long backstreets past a relit church in pink to Made in Roath’s final surprise. A huge abandoned building with many rooms converted into artist’s working spaces. With a fire going outside and a sign above the door, the group was allowed to freely wander around the space and explore each room, and to return downstairs where there was a bar and live electronic music.
Early in the night we left the main street, and followed an alley to a locked gate, gathering around in the entrance before a figure came to unlock it from the other side. Cardiff’s need for something new and for fresh perspectives on familiar streets is the reason for walks like this. This defamiliarising change in spatial awareness is significant as it makes it clear that the city is not static, that it can be recreated into whatever we choose. The poets, comedians and actors that spoke chose both the immediate and the distant for their topics, talking about the exact places we were walking through, or more generally about the current global or political situation; Cardiff’s art scene revealing itself, lit up in the night.