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Under the Counter Culture immersive art installation opens its doors

The building where the Under the Counter Culture event is being held
The building where the Under the Counter Culture event is being held is lit up from inside
The event is held at 37-39 Cathedral Road, Cardiff

The one-off event is part of a larger scheme run by collective tactileBOSCH to make art more engaging and accessible to the general public

Hidden inside the Old Vicarage on Cathedral Road, Cardiff is an immersive art installation celebrating the connection between art and night culture. Under the Counter Culture aims to break down inhibitions and preconceived ideas to create a space for expression and play through their art.

A cartoon-style painting of a band playing to an audience
An Alan Streets painting

Helene Roberts, 39 from Swansea is the manager of the event, run by a collective called tactileBOSCH. She describes the event as “a night of immersive installation, live performance, spontaneous interventions, participatory art and conceptual audio-visual work.” 

A neon blue line strikes through geometric line drawings of shapes, with the caption "homage to Mario" above
A piece by Andrew Cooper

There are a wide variety of artistic styles exhibited at Under the Counter Culture and this is because inclusivity is important to Helene. “A lot of contemplation art can be seen as dry and exclusive” she says, “this is more entertaining, it allows people to take part, let their hair down, play and engage with the art in a different sort of way.”

Tinfoil and clear orbs fill the room in a space-esque layout, illuminated by blue and red lights
A room designed by local artist Jennifer Taylor

The artists come from locally as well as abroad and are sourced through a public callout, inviting them to respond to a specific theme. TactileBOSCH feels passionately about supporting young artists and will mentor them to adapt their work to suit the theme of the event. They try to support Welsh artists and have residents in from Newport and Cardiff as well as Berlin.

Caricatures are drawn on small pieces of paper and stuck on a toilet wall
James Green, another local artist’s work

The event is non-profit to fit in with their ethos of participation and inclusivity. Helene says she does not feel comfortable charging for art, and the event has only been ticketed once as a necessity to rent the space.

Women's underwear is pinned on the wall to fill in the word consent, in the phrase "this is not consent"
An evocative piece by local artist Amelia Unity

The event is a one-off but the collective has been running events since 2001 and tend to do one big event in Cardiff per year and a few smaller residencies abroad. The events change concepts as the sites move, often taking place in abandoned buildings. Helene says that this is because they like to challenge the way art is traditionally shown. 

A strip of neon blue lights runs along the floor, covered by transparent plastic umbrellas with neon scrawls on them
Part of a live perfomance installation by Rebecca Hammett

She says “The art is constantly moving, changing and engaging with the space in different ways for the whole process. The building comes to life with performances in it.”

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