The Abacus Rooms: Contemporary Art, Creative Space & Business Cards

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The Abacus is a unique gallery in Cardiff. Formerly the city’s bus office building, it has been transformed into a contemporary exhibition space. I was staggered to hear it’s only a baby, having opened in the summer.  

That seems to be fitting however, given the focus on young and talented artists. Those with work on display are rarely beyond their early twenties.

‘Are You Lost Yet Two’ (AYLYT) is currently showing. Here’s the first, in case you missed it.  It’s a new Cardiff based zine (and yes, I embarrassed myself asking what a ‘zyne’ was..) which focusses on ‘pass-it-on’ creativity. 

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Throughout the exhibit there’s a heavy sense of caution towards an increasingly digital world, which makes The Abacus a perfect venue. Amid the ambient noise of electric screwdrivers and hammers, there’s a real juxtaposition between the large old display windows and artsy living room feel. AYLYT has an equal dichotomy – it’s extremely contemporary but against ‘progession’ into an age of Retweets.  


I thought this passion for physical creativity was brilliantly captured by – of all things – the artists’s business cards. Heather Kirk had one remaining origami swan in her swinging basket, with the card wrapped along the tail.  

Naturally, no AYLYT visit would be complete without spending some time in the ‘Zine Library’. It’s immediately as you enter The Abacus, beside the book swap.

There’s some extremely political work, such as Daryl Cullen’s Join The Army, and the clip below shows just how much work goes into a zine.  

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Needless to say, the issues of social media was never far from centre stage. David Kerr’s ‘Facebook After Google Plus’ (above, right) had some especially poignant images. Do we have any idea what’s behind the door, or is the (ironically physical) Facebook message enough?

It’s difficult to box exactly what The Abacus is. I didn’t have space in this post to mention the poetry and guitars. But it’s certainly artistic and new and therefore central to Cardiff’s contemporary scene.


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