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Cardiff Character: Rhiannon Roberts

From studying the mind to painting in watercolours, a local artist reveals how a colourful path led her to design a Snowdog

Rhiannon painting a mini version of Enfys in her Cardiff Bay studio

Local painter Rhiannon Roberts originally comes from West Wales but made the move to Cardiff five years ago where she developed her quirky and happy style.

After growing up in what she describes as a colourful harbour town and recently designing a Snowdog called Enfys, whose name translates to rainbow in Welsh, it is clear to see how colour has always been a huge part of the 28-year-old artist’s life.

Snowdogs are 1.5m tall dog sculptures designed by 43 different artists for the Snowdogs Tails in Wales (STW) free public art trail. Rhiannon’s design was selected and sponsored by the Glee Club comedy company.

Transition from psychology to art

Even though her Mum painted with her from a young age, art was not the initial route Rhiannon pursued.

She headed to Cardiff University at the age of 18 to study psychology. Despite this she says ever since she was little she knew she wanted to be an artist.

“I did art at A level and thought I should do something more serious at university which looking back, you know, art can be serious too,” she said.

She was fascinated by how the mind worked but after discovering the scientific side of psychology she soon realised it wasn’t for her.

“A lot of people still to this day think they can see the psychology in my work,” she added, “so I don’t know whether it is coming out without me knowing.”

Behind her craft

Although she did not continue with psychology Rhiannon remained in Cardiff where the city’s dynamic buildings inspired her.

Rhiannon loves spending time in her colourful studio

While buildings have inspired her paintings, Rhiannon recalls one particular artist who had a major influence on her work.

“The first artist who inspired me was actually a local artist called Dorian Spencer Davies,” she said.

The Welsh Artist captures everything from harbours and coasts to castles in his distinct colour palette. He also designed Snow Dragon, a Snowdog based on the Welsh Dragon.

“I first saw his placemats and coasters when I was a teenager and I bought some for my Mum,” she added, “I think that’s where my love started.”

“Rhiannon claims the people around her
are her greatest inspiration”

However, Rhiannon claims the people around her are her greatest inspiration.

While Enfys means rainbow in Welsh, which Rhiannon thought was the “perfect name” for her Snowdog because of the colour in her work, she explained: “Enfys is also my sister’s name so it meant a lot to call her Enfys.”

Colourful future

It appears there is a colourful future ahead for Rhiannon as she smiles at how happy she is. Her only immediate goal is to push her website where she sells her pieces in original forms such as coasters, calendars and phone cases.

She said: “I did want to open my own gallery. I think if I settle down and have kids that would be something to think about then.

“I don’t plan on doing anything else for the rest of my life.”

 

STW will run until 26 November. On 12 December the dogs will be auctioned at Cardiff’s Marriott Hotel to raise funds for the Welsh children’s hospice Tŷ Hafan.

Rhiannon encourages people to explore the trail. She said: “It brings a bit of colour and fun when everything else is going wrong in the world.”

 

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