“Hey Bartosz, I am from the German football magazine “11 Freunde”. We are looking for photographers in Wales and I see that you have studied at Newport. Are you now in Wales or Cardiff? Please answer very quick because we want to make a photo report in Cardiff in two days. Best regards from Berlin”.
‘City – The Season’ follows Cardiff City FC fans during the 2012-13 campaign, when the Bluebirds wore red. Cardiff based photographer Bartosz Nowicki started the project as a commission for a German footballing magazine 11 Freunde, as a response to the controversial takeover by new owner Vincent Tan.
As with all football clubs, Cardiff City needed money but this buyout became something else, the new owner would bankroll his new club but at a cost.
The historical Bluebird that adorned every fans shirt and scarf would be no more.
The commission soon became a project as Bartosz became captivated with the fans love of the club, what he witnessed in 12 short months was the first title win and promotion to top flight football for Cardiff City in 51 years.
Bartosz Nowicki is Polish born photographer and curator living in Cardiff, Wales since 2005. He is a trustee and curator of Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff. The gallery is renowned, not only in the UK, as an institution responsible for bringing the most exiting contemporary photography to Wales. In his photographic practice Bartosz primarily concentrates on the social issues that surround him and which impact on his personal life.
I had the idea for this project in 2009 whilst checking into Gatwick Airport, London for a flight. After looking at my passport the desk attendant said “Bridgend, isn’t that where all the suicides are?” It then dawned on me that the town where I was born, grew up in and still live, was now infamous, nationally.
After almost 10 years of extensive travel coming back to Bridgend every time had started to depress me and I wondered why this was – I guess I was starting to see Bridgend from an outsiders point of view. An interesting factor in the project was my girlfriend’s view of Bridgend as she is from the North of England and kept pointing out unusual things/habits that I would never have noticed; she also really likes Bridgend.
So finally in 2013 I decided to start documenting my town and the people who, like me, live there. What is it that makes a ‘normal’ town like Bridgend end up with such a bad reputation? On the surface it’s just like any other town. In fact, it’s probably a step above other towns due to its near-perfect location, lying alongside the M4 corridor, a mere two hours drive from London.
Additionally, Bridgend sits just 10 minutes away from beautiful coastlines and wonderful valleys, and is 20 minutes equidistant between Wales’ two main cities of Cardiff and Swansea.
The main aim of the project is to rediscover Bridgend and find out if it is as generic, oppressive and depressing as I’m starting to believe. What does the future hold for Bridgend; a town that’s slowly being constricted by supermarkets and out of town developments? Does happiness exist here? Why has there been an exodus of most of my friends? and what kind of town will my daughter ultimately grow up in?