In the middle of one of the harshest winters recorded, the masses can be forgiven for wanting to get away to a sunnier, milder climate. When they come back from their winter break they will undoubtedly have hundreds of photographs of various beauty spots and idyllic beach scenes, but what about the beauty spots that are right outside their front door? Do our own home towns have as much to offer as an exotic getaway?
Dan Green founder of the project BigLittleCity would argue that there is beauty just round the corner, if you go and look for it. “The grass is always greener and people don’t realise how great it is here. There is beauty on our doorstep, there is beauty everywhere and Cardiff is extra special.”
The idea for BigLittleCity was conceived by Dan three years ago after an exhibition of his portraits of Cardiff’s unsung heroes, entitled Cardiff Characters. During the six weeks which Dan manned the exhibition he noticed that the people he photographed came to the exhibition with their own entourage and it brought together unlikely groups of people. A community was created around the work.
“There are so many wonderful people here it feels like one big community” Dan Green
However some people questioned his choice of characters and Dan remembers one day in particular, “Someone came in to Cardiff Characters and said ‘this is your Cardiff, not my Cardiff’ and that got me thinking because it was my perception.” Dan admits that he stuck to what he knew and that by using the images that were his choice, it would ultimately always be his perception of Cardiff on display and what made Cardiff special to him.
With BigLittleCity, Dan has opened up the floodgates and asked people to show him their Cardiff, through a series of interactive projects and solo work. Some of these projects include: redesigning the Cardiff coat of arms, an animation of the Bute Park animal wall, and a chance to design a t-shirt for the oldest record shop in the world, Spillers Records.
Dan talks more about the various projects
The resulting work from BigLittleCity will aid the launch of the new people’s museum The Cardiff Story in March 2011. BigLittleCity will be exhibited for four months in their 3,500 sq ft first floor exhibition space, The Cardiff Story inhabits the Old Library building on The Hayes, appropriately in the heart of Cardiff.
The ground floor of the museum depicts Cardiff’s history and how Cardiff came to be. BigLittleCity acts as the modern chapter to the Cardiff Story. Alison Tallontire, exhibitions officer at the Cardiff Story says, “The Cardiff Story galleries will tell the tale of how Cardiff came to be the city we know today through the eyes of those who created it – its people. BigLittleCity continues that story to celebrate modern Cardiff in a very fun and interactive way. The inclusive and interactive nature of BigLittleCity fits in perfectly with our aim of giving Cardiffians a chance to engage with and be proud of our city.”
One of the aims of the exhibition is for visitors to repeatedly come to the project and see how it continually evolves. The many interactive projects will continue to grow and grow throughout the months and they will gradually incorporate everyone’s vision of Cardiff. Ultimately a true view of the city will be reached, whether that is the rugby crowds, the fruit and veg stallholders or the Saturday night party people. Everyone will have their say about what makes Cardiff special to them.
This winter, a trip abroad may seem like the more appealing option to many, but perhaps, like Dan and the many contributors to BigLittleCity, we should spend some time exploring our homes and finding out what our own cities really have to offer. When questioned why he is so passionate about Cardiff, Dan answers, “It’s my home, because of the people, because it is very special to me, very dear to me and because it has to be done. It has to be done, maybe I’m too much into this, maybe I’m too much in my own bubble, but I think Cardiff needs this. I think all places need this to help them realise what’s on their doorstep.”
Dan has detailed his top places to visit in Cardiff, so others can venture out and explore the beauty of the city.
Those with smartphones can tour his top places on Gowalla.