A month long festival of exhibitions, discussions, screenings, performances, events and celebrations in both physical and virtual spaces and places.


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Publishing Fair

Saturday 25 May, 11am – 5pm & Sunday 26 May, 10am – 5pm 

Stiwdio, Chapter / Free Admission

The publishing fair welcomes all to celebrate, explore and engage in a wealth of international contemporary book arts and print practice. On Saturday there will be a series of Q&A sessions with selected contributors and throughout the weekend will be various launches and signings.

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Kirsty Mackay’s Pop Up Studio Portraits

Sat 4 & Sun 5 May
The Cardiff Story, The Hayes

Sat 11 & Sun 12 May
Milkwood Gallery, Roath

The Pop Up Portrait Studio is a mobile, outdoor photography studio, offering everyone a free portrait session. The studio popped up alongside the Diffusion venues in Cardiff and you can see all 110 portraits that Kirsty has taken above. Participants can also pick up their free print at Cardiff Story where the work is being displayed as a temporary exhibition.

“It is much more than a photo booth. I photograph everyone that comes along. I love being surprised when someone that I might not have thought of photographing, stands in front of my camera, and all of a sudden I see something in them. If I can then capture that – I can make a good portrait.”


European Chronicles

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European Chronicles

The Cardiff Story

1 May – 31 May

Mindaugas Ažušilis, David Barnes, Tina Carr & Annemarie Schöne, John Duncan, Anna Kurpaska, Catrine Val, Artūras Valiauga 

European Chronicles puts forward a vision of contemporary Europe as experienced through photographic work reflecting various personal, family and community stories. This small selection of individual projects is drawn from the vast pool of diverse photographic talent that exists across Europe, currently under-represented at the major exhibiting and publishing centres in London, Paris and Berlin. The exhibition launches European Prospects, a two-year project examining the role of photography and digital media in developing and presenting an alternative iconography of Europe and European experience from the mosaic of photographic imagery being produced in the region today.

Elin Høyland – The Brothers is also presented at Norwegian Church Arts Centre as part of European Chronicles.

A Ffotogallery project funded by the European Cultural Foundation and European Commission.


Image: Victoria from Feminist, 2011 © Catrine Val


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Wait and See

Oriel Canfas

1 May – 31 May

Wait and See places black and white photosensitive paper and light – two fundamentals of photography – at the centre of its process. Early photographic paper is exposed in the exhibition rooms and through a subtle interplay with space and light, the chromatic transformation of the paper begins. According to its composition and the nature of its contact with light, the paper develops random colour patterns over time. To perceive the progressive saturation of the paper, the spectator is asked to be patient and to remain still for a few moments in order to observe a latent process, the meaning of which derives from the very act of being seen.

A Ffotogallery project funded by Pro Helvetia (Swiss Arts Council), Swiss Cultural Fund in Britain and Swisslos Culture Canton de Berne.


Image: Wait and See, 2012 © f&d cartier


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Ariane Parry on Alicia Bruce’s Encore

Encore is an ideal exhibition for the format of the Diffusion Festival, with themes of performance, community and inter-generational connections slotting neatly into the venue of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. A short walk down the corridor from the exhibition offers a glimpse of the creative world of the students in the form of stage costumes, paintings and posters for plays, refusing a clear boundary between the practice of Bruce, her subjects and the college.

The exhibition consists of two sets of portraits, both of musicians and both taken during Bruce’s residency in the town of Blanaevon. The teenage musicians have been photographed in a pose imitative of the James Ward painting A Young Man (1851). Is Bruce using a younger art form to look backwards, or bringing ideas from the past forward? Should we consider her borrowing of this image an act of inspiration or adaptation?

Encore resembles Bruce’s work on the residents of Menie Estate in its examination of a community’s way of life through a framework of referencing older works. The use of A Young Man as a mould raises questions about authorship and originality in her choice of form, although in the clear, bright faces of the Blaenavon musicians there’s a strong sense of who they are, and of Bruce’s ability and affection for the community.

There’s perhaps a sense of cynicism in Encore about the very idea of representing a community like Blanaevon through portraiture. By referring back to the same painting in each portrait the question is raised of whether identities, locations and cultures are compromised by photographic representations, and we’re led to consider the limits of the medium’s representative capabilities.

But the artificiality of this technique is mostly used to celebratory effect, allowing the subjects to display their love of performance in a manner that works in a visual medium, and picks this out as a cohesive theme crossing generations and responding to history.

As her subjects imitate A Young Man, Bruce accompanies them in imitation of James Ward. This sense of empathy between artists working in different mediums is one of many exciting themes throughout the festival that encourage audiences to reconsider the mutable boundaries of photography. It is an accessible approach to this question and as May goes on, it’ll be great to see these ideas debated on Twitter and Facebook.

For anyone especially interested by Bruce’s reference to Ward, the exhibition is only a short walk away from The National Museum and Art Gallery, which is just across the road and provides alternative historical contexts for enjoying Encore. I’d particularly recommend the exhibition ‘People, Personalities and Power: Faces from Wales 1800 – 2000’


Ariane Parry


Alicia Bruce: Encore

1 May – 29 May 2013

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama


This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here.

Photo Copyright: Blaenavon Male Voice Choir (3), 2011, Alicia Bruce

Edgar Martins - The Time Machine

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The Time Machine


1 May – 7 June

In 2010 and 2011, Martins gained exclusive access to 20 power plants located across Portugal. Many were built between the 1950s and 1970s, a time of hopeful prospects for rapid economic growth and social change. The Time Machine records objects and spaces whose grand and progressive designs testify to the scope and ambition of the vision they were built to serve.

Martins’ photographs recall science-fiction and in an unavoidable field of nostalgia, characterise a suspended time; that of the modern. In recovering a past of exciting technological innovation and optimistic belief in the future, The Time Machine speaks not just about the generation of power but also of dreams and technological utopias.

This exhibition was funded by Fundação EDP and the international tour is supported by The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK branch) & Instituto Camões (Portugal).



Image: Fratel power station: machine hall, 2012 © Edgar Martins

Blaenavon Male Voice Choir © Alicia Bruce

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Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

1 May – 29 May

Encore stages two complementary series of portraits of musicians in Blaenavon, a former mining town in the south Wales Valleys. Inspired by historic portraits in the National Museum Cardiff collection, Alicia Bruce’s photographs highlight the individuality of the sitters while retaining their identity as a collective. Both series were shot on stage in Blaenavon Workman’s Hall during Bruce’s residency as part of Ffotogallery’s recent Valleys commission. They depict distinct groups of performers from different generations who are tied together geographically and share a love of performance. By restaging compositions from celebrated paintings in the National Museum Cardiff, Bruce eloquently reconnects the Blaenavon musicians with a greater Welsh musical heritage.

A Ffotogallery project.


Image: Blaenavon Male Voice Choir, 2011 © Alicia Bruce

The Valleys Re-Presented

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The Valleys Re-Presented


1 May – 31 May

David Bailey, David Barnes, Mike Berry, Maurice Broomfield, Alicia Bruce, Paul Cabuts, Huw Davies, John Davies, Jeremy Deller, Sean Edwards, Peter Fraser, Bruce Gilden, Philip Jones Griffiths, David Hurn, Francesca Odell, Ron McCormick, Paul Reas, Zhao Renhui, Roger Tiley, William Tsui

An exhibition bringing together contemporary, historical and vernacular photography which has the south Wales’ Valleys and its communities as its subject. The Valleys Re-Presented examines different visual narratives and typologies and how the currency of images creates and sustains particular mythologies about people and place.

The exhibition includes new work by Zhao Renhui, Alicia Bruce, Huw Davies and David Barnes, alongside classic 1980s images by David Bailey, John Davies, Peter Fraser, Francesca Odell, Ron McCormick and others.

A Ffotogallery project.


Image: Preparing a Warp British Nylon Spinners, Pontypool, 1963 © Maurice Broomfield

Helen Sear - Lure

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25 May – 21 June

Lure is a major exhibition of new work by Helen Sear. One of Wales’ most important and insightful artists, Sear’s practice can be characterised by her exploration of the crossover between photography and fine art, her focus on the natural world and the startling beauty of her work. From seemingly simple subjects – a frozen pond, straw bales in a field, wild flowers – Sear makes artworks of great power that explore ideas of seeing and perception.


Image: Pastoral Monument 6, Dacus Carota, 2012 © Helen Sear


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Alexander Norton on Maurizio Anzeri’s But it’s not late it’s only dark

Consumed within thread

Thread is integral to the work on show in Chapter. I remember a talk by Maurizio Anzeri 4 years ago when photographs and stitch were first combined, and there appears to have been advancements on this idea. Using found imagery, facial features are smothered by the craft of thread, physically marked in a gentle action provoking life back into the photograph. These become sculpted into physical objects, creating a form of life lifted from the frame, looking at peoples’ heads, their human qualities through the photographic process, but consumed with markings on a more physical level. Continuously trapped, with no invitation to escape. This experience does not feel negative; it feels like a creative progression on the already sleeping people that have become objects through their life living in a photograph. The static quality of the archived photograph becomes transformed into an empty sheet of paper to create history once again, starting from an elevated position.

It is not just people, but objects and spaces that form a detailed reflection on living. Spaces transformed into contraptions of a repetitive nature, relentless in their consistency. As a yearn for escape to nature through the imagery of the sea, blocked by the constructions we live under, the four walls we rely on to survive.

Everything is there to see, but we cannot see it. It is hovering between craft and the finding of images, as open ended as the sea’s limits. As scale becomes taller, the thread consumes everything, reflected creating an incomprehensible task to escape from the physicality of things.

Although, the subjects depicted are not trapped, but merely entwined within the complexities of living, dying and existing, always, within a frame.


Alexander Norton


Maurizio Anzeri: But it’s not late, it’s only dark
1 May – 30 June 2013


This essay is available as a downloadable PDF here

Photo Copyright: Portrait Purple, 2012, Embroidery on photo, Maurizio-Anzeri