No more room for Cardiff creators after Butetown’s gentrification

Cardiff creatives are being kicked out of Butetown to make way for 2000 new houses. 

Artists of the Sustainable Studio gathered in the background with their communal space in the foreground
There are communal spaces throughout the studio where members of the community gather.

The Sustainable Studio, a community of artists and artisans, in Butetown, Cardiff is being threatened with displacement due to the area being earmarked for housing development. 

According to Julia Harris, one of the founders of The Sustainable Studio, the community has already lost about 20 members due to the uncertainty surrounding the studio’s future.

Julia said, “Because the development goes all the way down to the station, all the warehouses that you see are going to be flattened for 2000 houses, so our argument is that you have to create a space for people like us, a place for us to have affordable work space.” 

Clothing racks and storage
Members of The Sustainable Studio community are conscious of their environmental impact. The sisters Julia Harris and Sarah Valentin own a responsible fashion brand in addition to managing The Sustainable Studio.

The Sustainable Studio can be found amidst industrial warehouses on Curran Road in Butetown.

Various entities have occupied this warehouse and those around it over the past century but it started its life as a munition’s factory during World War I. 

Today, The Sustainable Studio houses about 30 persons in various creative enterprises from music production to fashion design and painting. 

We have become a family

Woman at industrial sewing machine making pencil cases from bicycle innertubes
Sylvia Davies of textiles reworked/tecstiliau eildro sewing pencil cases from bicycle inner tubes. She started her business as an homage to her seamstress mother, combining artistry and sustainability by using upcycled materials.

Those members of the community that have remained despite the uncertaity hope to retain their close relationships and familiar working environment.

Stephen Cichocki, a goldsmith and owner of WoodenGold spoke about redecorating his space to have a safe area for his two-year-old son, Caleb. 

“I’ll have a sofa there, so he’s got a little play area,” said Stephen. “He’s a warrior. He’s a little Hebrew warrior. Like a little bear.” 

Man making wide armed gesture
Stephen makes handcrafted and ethically sourced jewellery in his workshop.

Julia Harris said, “So many people don’t want these kinds of places to disappear, because we have become a family.

“We have lunches together, we share space together, some people bring their kids in, like my little baby was in yesterday so it’s kind of like a home from home really. It’s people’s livelihoods so in terms of being here people care about investing their time here.”