Tesco precinct; growing up in St Mellons, Tesco was a pretty integral part of the journey. In primary school it marked a transition to independence when I was allowed to walk there on my own to get eggs for my mum. Back then I could cut through the fields that are now Willowbrook Gardens. The row of shops, hairdressers, video shop and Triple Crown, the Drs, Martins and Tesco.
We’d hangout there, ride bikes round there, meet mates there. It was and is a hubbub of our suburbia.
The wall which has been home to the “Us Here Now” project was just a wall. Unobserved. Passed by. I guess that’s kind of a metaphor for us here in East Cardiff. Unobserved. Passed by. There but not Here.
When I heard about the project I thought it was a wicked idea, capturing people in their summer lockdown. Having something creative happening amongst all the bad news. Take that forward to finding out it was going to be on display over Tesco, A.MA.ZING. No longer would that wall be unobserved and passed by. Now it would be seen. Now we would be seen.
I tried to share the steps of the project on the local FB group as they came up on the Common Wealth page. It was often a place to vent about issues, fireworks, kids hanging about, I wanted to show what we are beyond that. How beautiful St Mellons is. It was lush to see so much love come back in the posts, people being tagged, metaphorical and emoji claps on the back for those involved. Lush to see the pride in those involved, pride in the work, pride in the space, pride in Us.
I’ve been given an opportunity to speak with Jude, one of the people photographed and involved in the project.
Steph: How do you feel about the project now it’s completed?
Jude: I feel the project was a fantastic experience in the dismal times of covid … it was a chance meeting with Rhiannon at Common Wealth that got me involved in the project …. initially as a photo.
The burst of colour against a grey dismal wall over dodgy St Mellon’s Tesco lifted the whole place. Everyone was looking at the images on the wall and smiling as they walked by … it was just the uplift the community needed as they went about their daily life in a pandemic
When the film came out, I shared it as it was so beautiful and uplifting, capturing of a moment in time …. not the shithole and area of mass deprivation that is generated about us .. but a beautiful insight into people proud of their belonging to a place and environment that means so much more to them … statistics don’t tell the whole story … do they!
Steph: What sort of feedback have you had from friends and strangers?
Jude: Everyone had said what a fantastic film it is and how it shows where we live as a vibrant caring place. My new employers seen the film and I think that was a factor in me getting the role … as they been telling loads of people about the film.
Steph: How have you felt about the social media aspect of it?
Jude: It’s been a positive experience .. and because of taking part in this project I’ve met some amazing people I know are passionate about community … CF3 Llanrumney Trowbridge St Mellons. Creating theatre and meaningful opportunities for local people.
It’s an amazing time to be in CF3 now … there’s regeneration in the air … and a chance to redress the asset stripping of community places and environments that’s gone on over the last 30 years. Can’t wait to see what Common Wealth do next.
I wanted to pick up on the penultimate sentence of Jude’s last answer. It does feel like there is something “in the air”, like we are on the cusp of something. Call it regeneration, call it finding our voices, call it finally being sick of being f*^king forgotten about by the powers that be.
We have power.
Power to change our environment, change people’s perspectives of us, give our community the chances and opportunities it deserves. This is Us.Here.Now. and we will be East Cardiff always.