There's No Place like Home; after Hosting 'Pop-Up' Exhibitions in Empty Shops for Three Years, Curator Cat Gardiner Has Found a Permanent Gallery. Karen Price Asks Her What We Can Expect from Project/ten in the Coming Months
WHEN Cat Gardiner was first planning to launch an art gallery, it was in the middle of the recession. But rather than let the economic crisis scupper her ambitious ideas, she thought she would do things a little differently.
So instead of renting a building with costly overheads, she started curating "pop-up" shows in a variety of different spaces, including empty shops, throughout Cardiff.
But after three years, her business, project/ten, now has a permanent home and Gardiner couldn't be happier.
The 28-year-old is showing off the new premises in Windsor Place with a winter exhibition featuring a variety of work by emerging artists who she has been collaborating with since launching her project.
"It has always been the aim to find a permanent space for the gallery and to felt that the time to find the gallery a permanent home had arrived. Until now the gallery has been hosting quarterly mixed exhibitions but establishing the gallery in a permanent place brings with it the opportunity to expand our exhibitions programme and introduce regular solo, mixed and themed exhibitions."
Gardiner - who studied art history at university in Aberystwyth and then a masters degree in contemporary design and curating in London - knew that she wanted the gallery to be based in her home city.
"When I came back to Cardiff, I couldn't dream of having it anywhere else," she says.
"Windsor Place was certainly on my list of possible locations where I thought a gallery would work as it's close to town and there's car-parking.
"Doing pop-up exhibitions was a good way of testing out the different areas in Cardiff and seeing which places really worked for us."
Gardiner knew the new premises would make the perfect art gallery the moment she stepped through the doors - although she admits the inside space was something of an Ugly Duckling.
"The building is so beautiful as it has high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows so there's lots of light. I wouldn't say it was love at first sight when I walked in but I could see the potential. It had previously been an office and no-one had touched it since the '80s so it was pretty horrendous-looking. But after ripping everything out and painting it white, it's a suitable gallery thanks to the dimensions of the room and the natural light."
After her application to Cardiff Council to change the use of space from an office to a gallery was approved, Gardiner set about curating her first show at project/ten's new home. …