Cardiff character: Amy Davies

In her High Street flat lined with handmade bunting, a few seconds walk from the Castle and High Street Arcades, Amy Davies unravels the story behind her unique photography project.

The Cardiff Arcades Project has also been featured in craft magazine Mollie Makes

The Cardiff Arcades Project, which began in February 2011, is a photography project that profiles Cardiff’s Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades. Since it started it has been featured on the Guardian Blogs and won a Wales Blog Award in 2011.

The project grew out Amy’s pledge to take one photo a day for a year. As she scoured the city for inspiration she wandered into the Morgan Arcade and saw potential for a more focused photography project on the arcades themselves.

“I thought well that’s just really obvious, somebody else must have done this. Why wouldn’t someone have done this before?” explains Amy.

However, after some research Amy found no similar projects. Following an influx of Twitter support, including enthusiasm from journalists at The Echo, the project was launched.

When she’s not exploring her vicinity Amy is a journalist at Future Publishing, as part of the photography testing team. “I have always liked photography and was into journalism as well. It never ever occurred to me to combine the two, until I did,” she laughs and seems delighted that she now gets to combine the two in both a professional capacity and in her spare time.

Thankfully for Amy her two favourite arcades are right on her doorstep. “The Castle Arcade and High Street Arcade are the cooler of the five,” she says as she shares some of her favourite spots: New York Deli, Barker, Catapult and Clare Grove Buttons.

Since starting the project many stores have unfortunately closed down. Amy says there are many reasons why this has happened but one of the prevailing causes has been a lack of engagement with consumers.

“Companies need to be more proactive. The savvy shops will be okay, the ones that are reaching out to people, using social media and have a website. You’ve got to really push to get people to know about you.”

Amy also acknowledges the issue of competition with St David’s and pedestrianisation of St Mary Street that has resulted in less people visiting the area.

However, despite such problems she is still confident the arcades will be around for years to come. “If all the shops work together to entice people in and use methods like social media we’ll be alright,” she suggests positively.

And as long as the stores are around it looks like the project will be too. In spite of there being less posts this year, due to work commitments, Amy sees the project continuing into the foreseeable future with big plans for 2013.

Discussions are in full swing about a potential exhibition of her work and Amy is also producing a self-published book of her photography. She admits, “I thought about just making it a one-year project but the arcades are changing all the time. There’s still so much to see and there’s no rush.”