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Book Review: Canton & Pontcanna

We all know what Cardiff has to offer right? It’s home to the Principality Stadium, the Welsh Government, Cardiff Castle and Cardiff Bay. It’s the capital of Wales. But what about the suburbs? In a new book centred on the areas of Canton and Pontcanna; photographer Mark Hawkins has handpicked everyday moments that truly capture the feel of these two communities.

Canton is the larger of the two areas and much of what has been captured takes place on or close to the busy main artery of Cowbridge Road; where locals head to catch up with friends, to shop, eat or enjoy a movie at Chapter Arts Centre. This is a very diverse part of Cardiff, and over recent years more and more young professionals and creative people have made this their home. In turn this has slightly shifted the dynamic of the area, and great energy can be seen across the pages of this book. A pedestrian walks past a bingo hall, a man appears to check the latest betting odds, a cyclist passes shops and a man sits on a bus. These everyday moments might not sound like much but are captured in a way that helps build a picture of what a typical day in this part of Cardiff is made up of.

Pontcanna, the smaller of the two areas is surrounded by green spaces with Llandaf Fields, Pontcanna Fields and even Sophia Gardens all close by. What is unique about Pontcanna and skilfully captured by Mark Hawkins is its village like feel with leafy avenues and the parks that lead you all the way into the city centre. Whether an early morning run, a dog walker, a woman sat in the sun reading mid afternoon or the numerous football matches that take place here, what has been captured is something special.

Alongside the streets and parks, this book also focuses the camera on the people and faiths found in Canton and Pontcanna. A Sunday morning service at a church sits alongside a midday photograph as sunlight flares through the gate of a mosque. A section titled culture also features a local artists studios, a local brewery, farmers’ market and even a local tattooist at work. Food is also an important part of life here, and both areas have an array of coffee shops and places to stop, relax, eat and ultimately enjoy these unique places – all captured perfectly.

This is a must have for anyone living in these parts of Cardiff or anyone who is in any way intrigued by them. A perfect coffee table gift.