Posted 3 years ago

Rules of Play, Castle Arcade and Garlands Eatery, Duke Street Arcade

Today was my first proper portrait and interior shoot as part of the project. The lovely Michelle from the Rules of Play game shop in the Castle Arcade and Garlands Eatery in Duke Street was the first shopowner to contact me last week when I first tweeted the idea of the project.

I’ve said before that I’m a bit nervous photographing strangers but I can honestly say today was a dream. I spent some time chatting with Michelle before getting the camera out (on the advice of my photographer friend Ed) and then took some interior shots of the Rules of Play shop.

It’s hard knowing what to tell people to do, but I think, with this kind of project at least, it’s easier because you want people to act naturally as they normally would in their own shop.

I also met Ian, Michelle’s husband, who works in their other business, Garland’s Eatery. Garland’s was just yesterday named best cafe in South Wales by the Echo. And it’s easy to tell why.

Named after a Welsh singer known as the Welsh Judy Garland, Ian and Michelle did little to the shop when they bought it nearly 4 years ago. The styling of the interior comes from its namesake, and there’s a theatrical theme running throughout backed up by an elegant chandelier in the middle of the ceiling, stage photographs adorning the walls and the classical music that is playing on the radio.

Serving real Welsh food and quality coffee, Michelle says that the business enjoys particularly good custom from bewildered stag and hen dos attempting to get over an epic hangover on the morning after a big one in the city centre.

Rules of Play is one of the newest shops in the arcade, having only opened last year. Spurred on by the closure of a games shop just down the road from Garland’s, Michelle thought there was definitely need for a dedicated shop and opened up Rules of Play.

Inside it’s fresh and airy and it’s the games that are the focus here. A friendly table set up with a board game (and a load more stashed underneath) means you can try before you buy and the shop regularly runs events to get people into traditional gaming and away from mega expensive consoles and the mega expensive, throwaway games that get played once and discarded… as a long time lover of Articulate, I can’t wait to get my hands on something myself once I’ve got a bit of spare cash.

I needn’t have worried about being nervous for this shoot, I spent a great couple of hours this morning, just chatting, getting to know Michelle and Ian, and learning interesting things. One of the most telling was Ian saying that he believed it was the roadworks on Castle Street and High Street that had lost them more business than the opening of St David’s 2 - I’ll be sure to ask other shopkeeper’s their opinion on this when I meet them.

Anyway, before I ramble on too much (and I’ve probably forgotten a million other things) I hope you enjoy the pictures - please, please do leave me any feedback you  have as I really want to learn from this for the next time - I know these aren’t the most fantastic portraits you will have ever seen, but I’m pretty happy for my first shoot, it’s onwards and upwards from here (and I’ll probably go back and shoot both Garlands and Rules of Play some more at some point too!)

If you want to see more pictures from today’s shoot, see my Flickr account here.

Posted 3 years ago

Some photos from the High Street Arcade…

So it’s about time I blogged these. With a combination of my slack computer and my slack attitude it’s taken me a little while, but now they are finally here! Enjoy!

Probably my favourite photo from the project so far…. I LOVE these glasses - think they’d make an amazing prop for portraits - might have to buy them…

Lots of the shops have been very inventive with their sale signs this year - I particularly like this one from Looby Loo’s, and also the one from Morgan over in the Morgan Arcade. Plus Looby Loo’s has vintage teacups in the window!

Anyone with half a brain knows that Hobo’s is awesome. I interviewed the lovely owner a few years ago when I was in Uni, hoping to photograph him for the project soon - if it’s the same owner that is… I reckon I could easily spend a whole day just photographing the stuff in Hobo’s…

It makes me pretty sad to see empty shops - especially the bigger stores which I know used to house great shops - if I had the money I’d rent it myself and set up some sort of cake shop/photography exhibition space/random crap shop. It’d be cool.

There’s some more photos from The High Street Arcade over on Flickr if you want to see some more, and obviously I’ll be adding more in time. This morning I have my first portrait shoot - scary! Will report back with photos asap :)

Posted 3 years ago

Cardiff Arcades Project featured on Wales Online

A huge thankyou to Ed Walker from Your Cardiff today, who put up my piece on the project - for this one I had to write a little opinion piece telling readers about the project.

You’ll also spot a new photograph that I haven’t published anywhere else yet - the mannequin with sunglasses is taken in the window of the High Street Arcade’s Joke Shop :)

Just click on this post’s headline to be taken straight to the article.

Posted 3 years ago

A few Castle Arcade photos…

Just wanted to share a few of the Castle Arcade photos I took last week on my first “official” projects shoot.

I only spent about 15-20 minutes in the Arcade and it’s what convinced me absolutely that this would be a fantastic project. If I can spot many, many photo opps in just a few minutes, imagine how many more I’ll be able to come across in the coming weeks and months.

These won’t be new to anyone who follows me on Flickr, but enjoy all the same. If you want to see more from this set, please follow this Flickr link.

I took some new pictures in the High Street Arcade on Friday too, will post those asap!

Please remember to get in touch if you are a shopkeeper/know a shopkeeper and would like me to photograph you and your Arcade store. If you really don’t want to be in the pictures yourself, that’s fine too, I’m happy just taking photos around your shop. Email me on or follow me on Twitter, @amydavies

Posted 3 years ago

Arcades Project in The Guardian...

Thanks so much to Hannah Waldram from the Guardian Cardiff for posting about my project today! I really appreciate the help that has come forward on this so quickly and the kind messages of support I’ve received on the Twittersphere!

Click on the title of this post to take a look at the article.

Remember … if you want to get involved, drop me a line! (@amydavies or

Posted 3 years ago

Just a quick note about the background…

As you can see the background for this website has a few of the first pictures I’ve taken… as I take more I’ll add them and, eventually, the whole background should be covered - pretty cool huh?

Posted 3 years ago

An introduction…

For my first post, I feel like I should include a little introduction to the project. Basically this entire project is spun out of a whimsical thought I had just a couple of days ago – the thought being that it would be cool to do a photography project centred around the beautiful Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades that can be found in Cardiff’s City Centre. I’m completing a Project 365, and I wandered in there on the way home looking for inspiration on Tuesday night (the resulting photo you can see a bit further down the page…)

I assumed it must have been done a million times before, as it seems like such an obvious choice, and one filled with so many possibilities. I tweeted that I was half considering doing this and local website @yourcardiff (part of Media Wales) got in touch to tell me they’d love to feature a slideshow of images, and that, to their knowledge that nobody had undertaken a project like this, and if they had, it was high time another one was done.

Since no images actually existed, I asked them if they could help me get the ball rolling instead and they promised to be in touch the next day.

By the morning, I’d also been tweeted by @michelledavis, who owns the @garlandseatery cafe and the amazing @rulesofplaygame board-game shop, saying she’d be up for helping. Since I have a fear of going up to strangers to ask if I can photograph them, it struck me that my fear could be overcome by getting the strangers to come to me. Still a bit scary, yes, but not so terrifying anymore.

Fast forward just a few hours and Your Cardiff are letting me put out a post next week asking for people to come forward, and local arts group hack/flash are also hoping to get involved. Helia from hack/flash says all the best projects come from those that are based on a random thought one evening.

I sure hope she’s right. I can envisage so many sub-projects within this project, which is what I think will keep my interest piqued. For now, I’m really looking for shopkeepers and/or workers to get in touch if they would like me to swing by and take photos of them and their shop. I think that once I’ve done a few, I will get the courage up to ask the shops that haven’t come forward.

I love the arcades and I really want them to thrive in an undeniably difficult economic time and with increasing competition from shops on Queen Street and in St David’s. I don’t want to be evangelical but I know we will all be very disappointed if the arcades empty out and only relics are left.

If my project can help the arcades in any way (either through a tiny bit of publicity for individual shops and businesses or just through general intrigue) I will feel like I have done a good job, and of course, in return I’ll hopefully meet some awesome people and have some great photos.

I should probably say at this point that posts won’t always be as long as this, but I wanted to lay it all on the line for you to read, so you know the deal before signing up. I’m hoping that it will end up being a mixture of short blogposts, pictures, galleries, interviews and snippets of information about arcade history – maybe even the odd map. There’s probably some unanswered questions here, so if you have any please do get in contact, and please pass this message on to anyone who you think might have the smallest of interest and might be able to help.

Thankyou and wish me luck!

If you are a shopkeeper and would like me to come and take photos in your shop (and of you if you don’t mind) please email me on or stalk me on twitter (@amydavies) and we’ll arrange something as soon as possible!

Any questions?

Here’s the rather ordinary photo that started this all off… taken in the Morgan Arcade.

From the Morgan Arcade...