Milkwood Gallery and Cardiff Cycle Festival

The art.spoke.soul exhibition has been growing again. Milkwood is the final venue of the  Bike Art Trail Cardiff 2012 to open its doors to cyclists for this years Cardiff Cycle Festival.

There is work by Lucy Driscoll, Eliza Southwood, Mark Robson, Lucy Freegard and more. Resident artist Sophie Elliott has begun her cycling journeys through the wet Welsh landscape from Caerphilly to Cardiff. She’ll be working towards an open evening at Milkwood Gallery on 12th July.

Places are still available for Cardiff Cycle Tours Art Trail; a ride from The Coal Exchange, along the Ely Trail, to Roath, and back through Bute Park and the Taff Trail. A conversation between myself and artist Sophie Elliott will also feature. Book through

Come along to PrintHaus this Saturday for the Barenaked Micro Beer Festival from 2pm and see the exhibition. If you fancy riding the trail, I could lead a group from 3.30pm(ish); just turn up with a bike.

Jon Bunney

Jon Bunney, animator and illustrator, seeks influence from cycling and also being outdoors, up mountains and pedalling under forest cover. Nature and human form are a large part of his work and cycling has been a huge part of Jon’s life, his first memories being of bikes. Cycling is an integral part of Jon’s well being and fitness. He recently got to grips with riding again after an episode of ill health and said: “It’s an excellent way to gauge my fitness”.

Wenallt Woods


We shall not cease from exploration,

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot

In search of a little respite from the constant traffic crescendos outside my house on Allensbank Road, and a little less serious cycling, I headed out past Rhiwbina to Wenallt Woods. I parked the bike at the bottom of Wenallt Road, locking up to a road sign or someother forgotten construction and took the nearest path into the woods.

Within minutes, an emulated sky of bluebells had appeared under the canopy of beech trees, which date back to at least 1600AD. The Cardiff Council managed pocket of ancient woodland consists of Oak, Hazel and Beech. There is a red circular walk that can be followed from the car park, but I chose to meander around its abundant pathways watching squirrels breaching out of the sea-blue floor.

“..such things are wild. Seeing them, you are made briefly aware of a world at work around and beside our own, a world operating in patterns and purposes that you do not share. These creatures, you realise, that live by voices inaudible to you.” – Robert Macfarlane.

The evidence of play; dens and rope swings, took me back to my childhood of wading through my local brook, extricating ancient remains and plunging from tree top to river. For me, it’s important to find wildness outside of our man-made environment. Wenallt Woods is perfect for this and a stone’s throw out of Cardiff, can be easily accessed without a car.

Recommended reads:

The Wild Places, Robert Macfarlane;

Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, Roger Deakin.


Hark rumour outcast ghetto track,

Wood clack, rattle, quivering slat.

Orbicular ghost pedal whirrs,

Summon memory of victory cheers.

Crooked curtsy to spruce sentinel,

Abrupt celebratory firework crack,

Soft snowy silence answers offence,

Whilst night threatens overpowering pretence.

Unknown footsteps snap awake

Winter’s white recumbent state.

Stilted parapet truss ascends,

Adhering track slopes and bends.

Adoring homage to veteran majors,

Encompass curving circuit stage,

Distant races conquered, played.

Arresting ingress hinged by rubber,

Intersected ambitious artery inner.

Past summers linger on, browned,

Intruding shoots reclaiming land.

Nature’s seasoned right of way,

Moves forth over abandoned ground.

Lonely in wild December wood,

Forlorn cyclist forgotten, stands.

Ghettodrome is the result of a little side project I did whilst on residency at Arteles, Finland. The derelict velodrome in Tampere was mentioned by an artist I met and I went to check it out. The continual rain we are having here in Cardiff is a reminder of the enduring Finnish winters. This, and a feeling of isolation in the wilds inspired the poem.

Jacob Stead

Jacob Stead

A super talented illustrator originally from Bradford and living in Bristol is making up some visual treats for the art.spoke.soul. trail at Cardiff Cycle Festival this June. Jacob graduated from the University of West England with a first class honours in 2011. One year on and Jacob has illustrations in Boneshaker (above illustration), Wired, Oh Comely, and Radio Times.

Jacob finds Bristol an easy city to get about by bicycle and makes the most of good weather by taking the 13 mile off road route out of his metropolis to Bath on the connecting Railway Path. I certainly think I’ll give this a go when the rain lets up! For now as we’re stuck in an endless Winter, I’m writing something inspired by my December Scandanavian experience.

Find more of our gentleman’s illustrations here: Jacob Stead

Road Rage

The automobile, once a portrait of freedom and independence, has since had its benefits outweighed by congested traffic. The term ‘road rage’ was coined by psychologist Dr David Lewis in 1985. This state of anxiety is something that affects 1 in 3 motorists. Driving is one of the most highly dramatic activities we hazard ourselves in regularly. The series of events and incidents such as changing lights, lane changes and near collisions require concentration, are sometimes frustrating, and often formidable.

The expectation of freedom only leads to frustration when drivers are held back from their destination by other motorists undertaking privileged journeys to fulfill their needs. Predictability and unpredictablity are conflicting structural elements of driving; a steady speed in one lane is safe and secure, whereas a sudden manoeuvre not signaled creates danger, stress and risk of an accident.

A large amount of frustration when driving is immobility and constriction, whether it be caused by roadworks, congestion, speed limits or traffic lights. Drivers feel like they are wasting their time simply ‘sitting there’. You cannot perform other tasks whilst behind the wheel, whereas a journey taken by foot or bicycle includes excersise, relaxation and a chance of social encounter, without being held up.

I sold my car a year ago with the commitment of using only sustainable transport methods or lift-shares. Agreed there are some restrictions, such as not being able to simply down tools and get to the waves when the swell is kicking off. But on the other hand, I have made friends through sharing lifts to the beach, have slept on the beach, and risen at dawn to hit the beach. Surfing has since become more of a social activity for me. I feel more freedom now than ever before. This is because of the limiting factors of driving such as regulations, loss of control and expense.

Whilst cycling, I am avoiding the hostility of drivers (I can ignore it more easily because I’m having fun), the defensiveness and territorial behaviour. I can predict exactly how long it takes to get from A to B and the chances of a disaster or break down en route are very slim. This avoids the stress of an unpredictable journey and the usual delays encountered. Cycling in heavy traffic is the faster option; a journey of 10 minutes on the bike can take 30 minutes in a car. There is always an alternative route to get to your destination than driving and is nearly always more enjoyable. If not; how much do you really want or need to get there?

Full of Facts

Daniel Ulf-Hansen’s cycling infographics yelled at me from the walls of Sho Gallery during the 2011 Cardiff Design Festival. It was actually his work that inspired me to create the art.spoke.soul event this summer. I jotted his name down and got in touch with him inviting him to participate in making some work for this year’s Cardiff Cycle Festival.

Dan’s currently studying graphic communication at Cardiff Metropoliton University. His portfolio ranges from branding and typography to animation. He has a penchant for vintage rides having restored a 1980’s Peugeot and has landed a summer project to restore his 1960’s police bicycle.

Daniel Ulf-Hansen

c.Daniel Ulf-Hansen

Along The Wye And Hay Bluff

Following the River Wye from Monmouth to Hay-On-Wye, the road climbed gently for 7 miles to Coleford before turning off towards Lydbrook. Lydbrook is a charming little town with lots of history, nestled down on the banks of the Wye. From there, I skirted past Kern Bridge to Ross-On-Wye and found some scenic lanes to Hereford that ran directly adjacent to the river, although slow going, a little rough, and hilly.

From Hereford to Hay, approaching half way was the most gruelling part of the ride. Facing a fair headwind with nearly empty energy levels, I couldn’t wait to reach The Town of Books for a gooey chocolate brownie and mocha. Despite the damp weather, crowds of literary folk were out and about, giving the town its unique atmosphere. I couldn’t help but be slighty anxious about whether or not my tired legs would carry me out of Hay-On-Wye and up the 2000 ft Hay Bluff climb. But they hadn’t failed me yet and reaching the dramatic peaks still capped with snow, I had more energy than the start of my ride. Nothing like a mountain to lift ones spirits.

From there on was a long descent along the single track lane through Capel-Y-Ffin and down past Llantony Priory. This was Rob Penn country and I enjoyed every second of it, feeling very surreal about having reached the Black Mountains since cycling in the Forest of Dean just hours earlier. I couldn’t believe how far my own legs and determination had carried me. People often ask me; ‘Why do I want to cycle for so long?’ and ‘What do I think about whilst out on the bike for 7 hours?’. I set out on this ride with the idea of knowing my land. The Wye Valley and Monmouth is my home and I wanted to hug the river from there to Hay, discovering its meandering bends and over looked, under treasured view points. That day, lacking any company, the river felt like a friend. Also, I’m sure 80 per cent of my cycling pleasure comes from the mountains. They simply fuel a desire in me and it’s mostly the environment in which I ride I am thinking of; taking in all its beauty, feeling its currents, sighs and moans, sharing its Spring revelry and fresh winds. I appreciate it and feel a sense of stewardship; it belongs to all of us and is there to be loved. A day spent out on the bike is heaven to me.

Leaving the mountains behind, I was homeward bound passing through Abergavenny and taking the old road back to Monmouth where a steaming bath would be waiting for me. I’m beginning to think it’s not all about the bike Mr.Penn; it’s all about the mountains.