From 5pm today until 9 November, a red flag emblazoned with the command ‘Call Mum’ will be flying above Cardiff Castle. The work of the artist Dominic from Luton (real name Dominic Allan) and commissioned by Swansea-based public art producers Locws International, it’s a piece inspired by a simple act – Allan’s habit of writing the same two words in black Biro on the back of his left hand.
“I ring my mum twice a week, but I always have to write a note to remind myself,” says the artist. “This work started out personal but it is not particular to my mum, it is universal. Hopefully it will trigger positive responses and create conversations among people as they consider what it means to them.”
Call Mum is just one artwork in the citywide Cardiff Contemporary festival, which for five weeks sees Cardiff’s artists, designers and architects celebrating visual culture in its many forms.
Across the city there are 30 specially commissioned projects as well as gallery shows, artists’ residencies and an open studios weekend. Partners for the festival include Artes Mundi, the Cardiff-based international art prize whose sixth exhibition opens on 24 October; artist-led organisation g39, which is showing new work by Welsh artist Carwyn Evans; and the Made By Hand contemporary craft fair.
“For three years we have been planning and working towards developing this platform for the visual arts in Cardiff,” says City of Cardiff Council visual arts manager Ruth Cayford. “We were delighted to receive festival funding from the Arts Council of Wales, and the City of Cardiff Council team is dedicated to raising the profile of visual arts in the city.
“Cities like Liverpool and Glasgow have recognised the role of the arts in promoting economic growth and we are on a mission to see what we can achieve for Cardiff. We hope the festival will reach the broadest possible audience.”
Other commissions for Cardiff Contemporary include Peacecamp 2014 by Jemima Brown, which celebrates the women – many from Cardiff – who demonstrated against nuclear weapons at Greenham Common airbase in Berkshire.
Working with g39, artist and designer Alex Rich is producing a series of subtle interventions throughout the city, while the Empty Walls Project, curated by artists Sam Worthington and Helen Bur, will produce a number of public murals throughout the city.
Artists featured in Cardiff Contemporary include Bedwyr Williams, Ryan Gander, David Blandy, Omer Fast, James Richards and Erwin Wurm. The opening day of the festival will also see Dominic from Luton’s mum putting in an appearance.
“He said he wanted me and his dad to come to Cardiff and present the flag to some people at Cardiff Castle,” she says. “I said I would as long as I don’t have to say anything.”
Cardiff Contemporary runs from 3 October – 9 November 2014. www.cardiffcontemporary.co.uk