You might think local inspiration could be limited for a Cardiff Ely photographer. It is not the most glamorous of Cardiff suburbs or districts. As Wikipedia says, it is an area largely dominated by council housing. The press coverage it attracts is not usually positive.
But as with most places the world over, there are good parts and less good parts. Ely has a generous amount of greenspace in the form of parks, heathland and woodland. There are always plenty of dog walkers in the area taking advantage of the spaces. Cardiff’s Ely area was also once the site of an ancient Roman Villa and a Roman Fort.
Yes, there are young people speeding around on bicycles and motorbikes with varying degrees of care and attention. You can find litter, broken glass and burnt-out vehicles. There are regular police patrols, police helicopters overhead. A number of areas you might not venture to at certain times of day, as there would be in pretty much any city. You can never fool yourself into thinking that you are not in a city.
However, there are plenty of positives in and around Ely, as well as the parklands and greenspace. Links into and out of the city are good, local facilities are generally strong, there are tightly knit communities and sports clubs.
Cowbridge Road East offers plenty of recognisable chain shops for those on budgets. Caerau Ely Football Club has a well-established set up with a number of teams. Along Cowbridge Road you can find other gyms, dance clubs and boxing clubs.
Large-scale construction in the area is on-going, with burgeoning housing estates emerging towards the Drope and St Fagans reaches of the district. While even larger scale suburbs will be constructed over the next decade as part of the major £2 billion pound ‘Garden City’ development, north of St Fagans and west of Pentrebane . This Plasdwr scheme will see new schools, roads and 7,000 homes built in north-west Cardiff. Will the infrastructure be able to cope with such a development, especially when roads are so easily bottlenecked already? Time will tell.
As a versatile professional Cardiff Ely photographer, inspiration comes in many forms, and in this area of Cardiff it should continue to do so.