Substance; 12/12/14


‘Hope’, 2014, Mixed Media

n. 1.
a. That which has mass and occupies space; matter.
b. A material of a particular kind or constitution.

What is a’substance’? a physical object? a symbolic concept? or something that our brains create in order for us to comprehend the universe around us? The Earth that we stand upon is a substance, a hard, everlasting rock on which we find ourselves bound too. Yet, the air that we breathe is also a substance, something that we can only feel as wind across our face, or as a rise in our chest. How can this ‘nothingness’ that we feel all around us, be considered a substance too? How can Nothing, be Something? and why must one not exist without the other?

‘Substance’ is an exhibition within the very heart of the city of Cardiff, a gathering of art students from Cardiff School of Art and Design; each with their own Hopes, Dreams, Concepts and Mediums. We are anticipating an exhibition that really breaches the boundaries of Art; Strange and entrancing work that not only confronts, but appreciates the very matter of the world that surrounds us. Each individual artist bringing his or her own unique perceptions of the rapidly shifting, contemporary world that we all inhabit.

Substance was a success, work was created in a professional and exceptional manner, and the overall exhibition was triumphant. Of course, the exhibition did not come without it’s issues; work not being in on time, people failing to come in to help with the setting up, as well as a lot of teething issues with the space; people being annoyed as to where I had put their work, general maintenance of the space, as well as the creation of a space for the bands to play. Despite this, we pulled through and although I didn’t finish my pieces until about 7:10 (the exhibition started at 7:00), it went off without a hitch. A lot of people came, far more than I expected, as I believed it would just be denizens of our university amongst other friends we had invited along for the ride, but a lot more people ended up coming; artists, musicians, students, critics, gallery owners…it seemed so much more real, so much greater than anything I could have hoped for. To have created an artistic exhibition, a space, in which people wanted to come into and experience what was on offer; it was unlike anything I had felt before. It also helped that the work shown was so varied, so unique in it’s style and execution, providing a really varied perspective on the art scene within Cardiff (or the art scene that is about to erupt onto the streets of the city in the coming years).

Here are a few examples of the work, in which you can see the sheer amount of talent and effort put forth by those involved within the exhibition; all photos accredited to Sam Worthington and Helen Bur, 2014©.


‘Surface – Angle – Space’, 2014, Jesmonite, Aluminium Powder, Sand, PVA, Pencil & Acrylic, Emily Panizzi

 Find more at;


‘Ear’ – ‘Mouth’ – ‘Eye’, 2014, Ink on Paper, Heather Kirk

Find more here;


‘Untitled’, 2014, Oil & Emulsion on Charcoal, Fingal Green

Find more here;


‘Kid Criminal’, 2014, Pen & Ink on Board, Miller Elliot

Find more here;


‘We are Such stuff that Dreams are Made On’, 2014, Ink on Paper, Eloise Barratt

Find more here;


‘Untitled I’ & ‘Untitled II’, 2014, Screen print on paper, Nathan Mullis

Find more here;


‘Wholeness’, 2014, Pen on Paper, Ryan Lewis

Find more here;


‘Dot’, 2014, Oil on Board, Rhys Scorey

Find more here;


‘A Pause’, 2013, Oil on Canvas, Mabli Eustace

Find more here;


‘Broken Souls’ – Detail, 2014, Wax & Bone, Danielle Adair


Danielle’s work within the ‘vault’

There’s a very interesting spot within the Abacus, and the main reason why I enjoy being a part of exhibitions within the space there; the Vault. As the space is the old ticket office of Cardiff Bus, there is a large room which is actually a vault; the walls are some form of cement, but this is only a few centimetres thick, beyond this lies solid steel; as to how thick this steel actually is, I am not sure. However, the room is immediately atmospheric because of this original purpose, granting new dimensions and meanings to work; adding, but, never taking away, a key component in a gallery space. The work placed within the vault holds a certain degree of colour, but not harsh colour; soft, pastel shades that create an interesting juxtaposition against the dingy, grimy space.


‘Nine’ – Detail, 2014, Emily White


‘A Mother’s Touch’, 2014, Emily White

Find more here;


Another view of the vault

The ‘Vault’ really is something to behold, I wanted a lot less light within the space, in order to create an even more brooding atmosphere, but the artists weren’t having any of it, and demanded more light on their work. Of course, it does benefit the pieces overall, this extra light, despite my protests of ‘it needs to be more dark, more poetic!’. In the next exhibition, I shall try the darker light, and see how it works against the pieces; if it really does add more, or if I am wrong. You can also see the theme of the ‘pastel’ coming through more in this image of the pieces, and how the divide between the space and the artwork’s colour schemes does not disturb, but instead coagulates.


‘Untitled’, 2014, Pencil on Handmade paper, Sarah Thomas


Detail of ‘Untitled’


‘Host – Thymus Vulgaris’, 2014, Emily White


‘Unknown’, 2014, Acrylic on Board, 2014

Find more here;


‘Remnants Impaled by Xeno’, Mural by Ekstraternek, 2014

Find More Here; &



Grey Mondeo energising the crowd (and the walls)

We were also lucky enough to book some bands from around the Cardiff area, Howl being friends of the Abacus, and the other, Grey Mondeo, performing together for the first time ever as a band. It was the Idea of my co organiser Sarah Padbury to fill the back of the ‘stage’ with a load of broken televisions, that would emit static through the smoke that surrounded the stage, and into the crowd’s awaiting eyes. The first band, Grey Mondeo, were a two piece, instrumental punk band; playing hard and fast, evoking a reaction in the crowd, creating an atmosphere for the later band that were playing. After they played their set, the crowd dispersed to walk around the space; absorbing more of the art, speaking, interacting, and creating an atmosphere that brought many more people off of the streets and into the space.

IMG_4323 IMG_4349 IMG_4415 IMG_4456


‘Death of a Television’, Black and White

Then, Howl began to play; their set was electrifying; psychedelic rock that got the crowd moving and swaying, until the end of their set, in which they had asked prior if they could smash the two televisions that were broken the most; and I quickly obliged, providing for them a sledgehammer and crowbar. When the time came, and their last song was played, the singer, Grant, destroyed the Television, as the static played and the sound of the destruction seemed to blend harmoniously with the wailing guitars and hard drums, creating an end to the spectacles of the bands fit for a king. This use of the abacus as a gig, as well as an exhibition, was fantastic. It drew in a lot more crowds, but also entertained them; providing an atmosphere for merriment and for excitement; people got buzzed for what was going on, they told their friends and spread the word, and this prompted more people to descend upon the abacus over following week; all hoping to catch a glimpse of this ‘Rat Exhibition’ that they had heard so many people raving about. To put it simply, it was absolutely brilliant.

Find out more about Howl Here

Find out more about Grey Mondeo Here

Find out more about the ABACUS HERE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s