Welsh creative Nicole Ready shines a light on the people of Cardiff Docks with a newly launched publication celebrating those that live in the area.
As a fellow Welsh person, we are used to being ignored and misunderstood by the British media. Our culture isn’t taught, recognised or celebrated by the rest of the United Kingdom and, more often than not, is mocked when its discussed. For example, just last month, Snickers apologised for a “misjudged” tweet that compared Welsh place names to “someone who sat on a keyboard”. The remark, of course, didn’t go down well with its Welsh customers and resulted in hundreds of users tweeting their disappointment.
“I’m really not sure why it was deemed appropriate to mock the Welsh language in the first place, name one other language in the entire world you deem it acceptable to do that to,” read one response.
Regardless of our patriotism and persistent defence of our culture, there are Welsh communities that are still left out of the conversation within the rest of Wales, especially communities of colour. Last December, Bajan-Welsh singer-songwriter Kizzy Crawford penned a personal essay published by The Guardian expressing that Welsh people of colour will have no tick-box option to indicate they are both Welsh and minority ethnic in the 2021 census. “People of colour have been an important part of Wales’ history for centuries. Tiger Bay in Cardiff is home to one of the UK’s oldest black communities. I wonder how many people also know that there has been a black presence in Wales since the 16th century,” she wrote.
Made up of Tiger Bay, Butetown and Cardiff Bay, the Cardiff Docks in its peak, was one of the largest dock systems in the world. The Cardiff Docks attracted thousands of immigrants to work aboard ships and to service its docks. In the 1950s, some 57 nationalities were counted among the ten thousand people living in Butetown alone. Unfortunately today, a lot of the area’s history isn’t widely recognised or celebrated. Taking the matter into her own hands, Welsh creative and recent University of South Wales graduate Nicole Ready is challenging the outdated perceptions and lack of representation of the people of Cardiff Docks, where she was born and raised in neighbouring Grangetown. “My experience of the area is not really reflected externally in the media and by the wider public in Cardiff. So I thought why not just show my view of it.” Ready explains to me over email.
In an aim to document the people that make up the community, including friends and members of her family, Ready birthed DOCKS magazine with the help of photographers Ashrah Suudy, Zaid Djerdi and Arhantika Rebello. “What was really important to me, was making sure the team involved also had a connection to the area because I wanted it to mean something to everyone working on it. From the poet to the photographers, we all had the same goal of showcasing the Butetown we know and care about.”
DOCKS is for the people of Butetown to see themselves finally represented authentically and showcasing the people within the community that are changing the narrative and perception of the area.
In Ready’s words, the publication “is for the people of Butetown to see themselves finally represented authentically and showcasing the people within the community that are changing the narrative and perception of the area.” As well as celebrating the current communities of the Cardiff Docks, the magazine also nods to an important past figure of the area – Betty Cambell, Wales’ first black headteacher who is soon to become Wales’ first statue dedicated to a woman. “While highlighting the people of Butetown, it is only right to give recognition to the late Betty Campbell that continues to inspire people in the community, including me.
A publication like DOCKS is long overdue and necessary. “I’m not the only one who wants and needs this change in attitude to happen towards Butetown” explains Ready. “A lot of people have felt the same and recognising that starts the shift.” Join BRICKS as we meet the some of the people featured in the new publication and discover why Cardiff Docks is important to them.
The people of Butetown are my everyday. They are literally my everyday. They are my mandem, they are my people, they are my sisters they are everything. Its work, its relationships and its been blessing everyone is a blessing really that what it is. Its super cheesy but that’s what it is.
JAFFRIN, Youth Employment Worker
Butetown is a community where people are so tight-knit like a family everyone knows each other and looks out for one another. Butetown has a special place in my heart due to the values it carries.
AYAH, Youth Ambassador for Sports
One thing I love about Butetown is it has a small community and everyone is kinda together and knows each other. I mean it represents unity, everyone just knows each other thats what I love about it.
The people of Butetown mean a lot to me. A lot of people from Butetown are family or friends, so whenever I’m just walking in the streets I’m forever saying hi, so that sort of close relationship to the people.
HAKIMA, 1/3 of the Somali Mindfulness Podcast
Colourful, diverse, belonging, home, welcoming, friendly, community and intriguing, they are all the words we would use to describe Butetown.
Nicole’s Aunties, The Blades Sisters
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