Cardiff – the capital of Wales. An average British city you could say. But there is one quite unusual street, called St Mary street. Filled with shoppers, commuters and office workers during the week days, it transforms itself into a party stage on every Saturday night. Sooner or later most party goers end up in one of St Mary street’s bars and pubs. The street together with adjoining lanes becomes the main scene of fuelled by alcohol and emotions city’s nightlife. Everything takes place in public – from drinking, fighting, kissing to crying and sleeping. There are queues outside popular bars and the security guards together with police patrols, keep an eye on the whole spectacle. Supermen chat up Playboy Bunnies, somebody takes a nap on the pavement, the hungry ones finish their portions of chips, the needy ones urinate by the wall, bins overflow and the policemen stop another argument and fight. Nobody seems to worry about tomorrow, what matters is here and now. Then a taxi back home if you are lucky to find one, if not a slow drunk walk back. A quiet hungover Sunday and another week at work or school. Until the next weekend.
Photos displayed on this page come from the “Cardiff After Dark” project. All were taken on the weekend nights in Cardiff, Wales between 2005 and 2011.
“Cardiff After Dark” was published as a book by Thames & Hudson in October 2012 (www.thamesandhudson.com/Cardiff_After_Dark/) and is available from various international book retailers, including amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, amazon.com and the Book Depository (worldwide shipping).
- a review written by Peter Finch – a well known Welsh poet and writer
- a review by Susie Wild, a journalist, poet, performer and writer, and an Editor at Parthian Books.
- a review by Sean O’Hagan in the Observer, UK
- a short review in London’s METRO newspaper.
- 24 December 2012 – “Cardiff After Dark” on the list of best books of 2012 by TIME magazine, US. Selected by Geoff Dyer, an award-winning author and journalist.
- 2 December 2012 – “Cardiff After Dark” among best photo books of 2012 on the list compiled by Sean O’Hagan at the Observer, UK.
“Hilarious, dreadful and wonderful color images of youngsters getting mashed, trolleyed, legless—you name it!— in the course of some epic nights on the lash in the Welsh city centre. The romance, the tears, the fighting, the puking—to say nothing of the cost to the NHS—all observed with an appalled and graceful fondness.” — Geoff Dyer, an award-winning author and journalist.
One of the reviews from amazon.co.uk:
“Everything you need to know about observation and capturing human moments is in this book. The images might look easy, but this belies technical expertise and compositional skill. These images were all captured at night, low light with no flash at high ISO. (I have discovered from experience how difficult this is).Their quality is therefore remarkable. But more importantly, the stories they tell bear repeated retelling. I can go back and see something new every time. I have read and re-read this book over and over. ‘Read’ because narrative is key; there are multiple stories within, between and along the images. And there is pathos and humour aplenty; Dakowicz is an observer, but also a participant in the carnival, as can be seen from the glances of some of his subjects. It also helps that the book was designed by Jonathan Barnbrook and that the mise en scene is in Cardiff, just up the road from Newport, where I grew up. Bravo Dakowicz and thank you. This is my new desert island book.” – Francis Fitzgerald.