Interview with Together.and.Sunspell

1 – Happy New Year!

2 – I was interviewed by Wide Vicinity. They’ve just published the interview …

You can read my interview here: Helia Phoenix | Writer and content creator | Cardiff

I wanted to show them around the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Nature Reserve and to Hamadryad Park – particularly this view underneath the A4232, which is one of my all-time favourite spots. Such nice perspective …

Intro quote from the interview:

I guess at heart I think of myself as a writer, although I work across a number of different mediums ‒ photography, film, I’ve made radio pieces and done various audio things. I’m a polymath, I suppose, interested in telling stories through whatever channel best fits them.

I was born in 1980s Wales to Iranian immigrant parents. We moved around a lot, but I eventually ended up back in Cardiff for university where I studied English Literature. I did my final year out at Berkeley College in the University of California, and then came back and did a Masters in Creative Writing, and in between a bunch of other jobs working in a record store and DJing, then as a BA for the BBC, and at a magazine publishers, I eventually did a postgrad in web journalism in Sheffield back in 2008. I interviewed for two jobs at the end of that ‒ one was for a digital producer on 6 Music and the other was for web editor at the National Assembly for Wales. I didn’t get the former but was offered the latter, so ended up back in Wales again, where I’ve been permanently ever since.

Check out the Together and Sunspell project

And happiest of happy new years x


Happy New Year!


Today’s post is about an awfully nice little feature I got in Cardiff Life magazine. I had no idea this was going in (my partner in crime, Hana, gave them permission to use the photo without telling me!) so I was mightily surprised to find myself in here, under the category of “Visionary”.

Nice descriptor that, I might start using it when people ask me to describe myself.


Anyway, seeing as they’ve put this as the thing you should look at to find out more, I really should update it more, eh??

(Read the full issue of Cardiff Life here)

I normally have the quintessential British response to people saying anything nice (which is to cringe and die inside) but I’ve decided that’s a stupid way to live my life, so I’m going to be less of a twat about it and just appreciate whatever comes my way.

So thank you, a big thank you to Cardiff Life for such a lovely write-up. I spend a lot of my spare time writing (every day, in fact!) and also a lot of spare time working on We Are Cardiff, so it’s really nice to get a shout for that.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!


PS It appears it’s been over a year since I last posted on here … slightly embarrassing for someone who has “blogging” listed as a key skill on LinkedIn (does anyone even still use that?? Kidding, obviously I’m going to post a link to this on there)  … in my defence, my all my writing goes on We Are Cardiff these days. Also I’m trying to whole-ass one thing and have spent the past year finishing up edits on my novel, which is not a very interesting thing to blog about. But I’m going to try and keep this place a little more up to date. Pinky promise.

Cardiff Half Marathon – a first-timer’s experience

I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon for the first time this year, and wrote this article for We Are Cardiff on it. Anyone got any spare legs I can borrow??

We Are Cardiff

Cardiff Half Marathon 2015

(photo by Marc on Flickr)

Hello! My name is Helia. We may not have met before, but I write most of the stuff on this site. When there’s no author given on an article, then it’s me. I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon this year. I was a first timer. It was amazing, and hard, but mostly amazing.

So I wanted to give you a peek into my first half marathon experience.

Also, a warning – this race was hard. Like, really hard. There were a lot of swear words that came into my head or out of my mouth at various points. I try and keep swearing off this site as much as possible, but in order to keep true to my experience, fruity language is ahead. If you’re of a sensitive disposition, or get grossed out easily (because there’s some gross stuff too), better go read something else. I…

View original post 4,253 more words

In case you were wondering where I’ve been …

(Burning Man, Black Rock City, Nevada)

I’m currently getting towards the end of a five month trip around the world, which has, so far, covered the following:
– cenote diving and jungle ruins in Mexico;
– Vegas, LA, San Francisco and Burning Man in America;
– 5am fish markets, the Studio Ghibli Museum and the tallest ferris wheel in the world in Japan;
– five days of Golden Week bedlam in Hong Kong;
– a month of ancient customs in Tana Torajah and beautiful beaches on the Togean Islands in Sulawesi, Indonesia;
– fighting Aussies and sunburned Brits in Kuta, Bali;
– the most insane shopping malls I’ve ever seen in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I’m currently heading north through Malaysia and then Thailand, aiming to reach Bangkok around the 14th November. Then I’ve got a week there for my final blast before travelling home on the 24th.

It’s been an amazing trip – really amazing. I’m blogging the better parts here: Come over and see what I’ve been doing!

(Kadidiri Island, the Togean Islands, Sulawesi)

Thank you Project Cardiff

I’ve been nominated as one of Project Cardiff’s 50 individuals from the local creative community who are contributing to the life and soul of Cardiff in some way. Thank you, Project Cardiff!

As part of the nomination I’ll have my photo taken (in a ‘proper in-door sit down’ shoot with photographer Lann Niziblian, who is a great photographer and has done some lovely shots for We Are Cardiff). You can read Lann’s thoughts about this insane attempt to take portrait photographs of 50 people and print the images in time for the exhibition in October on the Project Cardiff blog here.

More about Project Cardiff take from their website (I have nothing to do with the organisation of this project, by the way…!):

The cultural identity of Cardiff makes the city a great place to live. Project Cardiff seeks to celebrate this cultural identity by profiling those who are making a positive contribution to the life of the city and highlighting their endeavours. The project intends to provide a starting point for conversations about the way in which Cardiff’s identity has been developed through local innovators and activists.

Project Cardiff: will be a portfolio of 50 portraits of people who have been identified as those who make a contribution to the community of Wales’ capital city. For this inaugural instance of Project Cardiff we have cast our focus upon the city’s creative community.

Project Cardiff will be launched with a two week exhibition at The Senedd in Cardiff Bay from the 13 October – 2 November 2012 and then followed up with a month long exhibition at Milkwood Gallery in Roath during February 2012

Make sure you head down there to see it. It’ll have my mush in it, somewhere!

Happy travels to Croatoan Design

One of my good friends in Cardiff is a designer called Adam. We met at work a few years ago. Now Adam is taking the leap from a 9-5 into a world of freelance, and he’s giving himself a creative reboot by heading off to Toronto for a few months (though potentially forever, who knows these things).

For those who don’t know him, this is Adam in his most frequently adopted photography pose. I don’t know why, but he always seems to end up on the floor when he’s taking pictures of things…

(photo by Amy Davies)

Adam is a brilliant designer and photographer and was one of the co-founders of hack/flash and the We Are Cardiff project. He also makes beautiful music and is lead screamer in the band Last Partisan, so I wanted to do a quick blog post about his work to lush him up and wish him well on his travels.


The posters for the Flux=Rad nights


Cover for Andrew Paul Regan’s album ‘The Silence and the Noise’

(Comes with three interchangeable inserts to change the cover – visit Andy’s bandcamp to order)


Posters for the Simply Rad band nights

(see the rest of the Simply Rad poster series here)


Posters for Modern Life is Rubbish

Other notable bits:

This poster for Flux=Rad


Had to put this one in – album cover design for Body Fossil (who is also my boyfriend and wrote me this album for my birthday last year)


One of a series of posters done for Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff…

I especially love this poster for Please Mind Your Head, which was made by filling a mask with water and paint, freezing it, and then photographing it as it defrosted in his sink.



Gruff Rhys at the BBC Club, Cardiff


Drains at Buffalo in Cardiff


Kutosis photoshoot in Bute Park, Cardiff


Bloc 2011


Cadence Weapon at Clwb Ifor Bach


Strange News from Another Star at Clwb Ifor Bach


Breakin’ The Bay


Bethan Elfyn We Are Cardiff photoshoot


Samoans at Clwb Ifor Bach

Goodtime Boys at Undertone


Los Campesinos at The Globe


Inhalite video shoot


Photoshoot for We Are Cardiff documentary filming


Adam’s also an honorary member of the Tiger Bay Brawlers roller derby team – he’s a regular fixture at away matches, and has photographed most of their bouts over the past year


Not a bad portfolio, eh? I’m really excited for Adam to be setting off onto a new adventure, though obviously I’m sad he’ll be leaving work, where I get to see him everyday. I can’t wait to see what he gets up to over there. Have an amazing time, mate!

Follow the adventues of Adam – aka Croatoan Design – on Twitter / Tumblr / Flickr

and check out his personal blog We Rewrote The Standards (I’m a big fan of this post!)

Abroad – California, April 2011

In April this year, I had a pretty amazing trip to California with my friend Hannah. I got ill the second day we were there (!) but managed to medicate myself through it.

The trip consisted of three seperate little parts – visiting San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles. I published three posts of pretty photographs from the trip on the hackflash blog:

San Francisco

Santa Cruz

Los Angeles

The photographs were all taken on my Christmas present, an old Olympus Trip, which is just about the best camera I’ve ever owned. I absolutely love it.

Damn. San Francisco just has to be one of my favourite places on earth…. I wrote a little about my trip while I was there on my tumblr, but it’s quite random as I was pretty ill!

#senedd2011 – democracy in our networked age

It’s not often that I talk about my actual, paid, 9-5 everyday job on here, as this is usually reserved for my extra-curricular activities. However, today at work months of preparation finally paid off in an event called ‘#senedd2011 – democracy in our networked age’

My bread and butter, as it were, are earned by working for the National Assembly for Wales as the web editor there (that’s right, all the books and the community art are done in my spare time. No, I don’t sleep much). A few months ago, with a view to improving the Assembly’s engagement with digital communities, I approached a couple of acquaintances of mine who run a consultancy called NativeHQ.

Here’s what they say about themselves: “Based in Cardiff, providing web presence and social media strategy, open networked websites, web tools and training. Your bridge to the new web.”

The Assembly started talks with Native last summer, with a view to running some kind of online engagement – initially we thought about an outreach project to try and educate people in Wales about the impact of the referendum, but it soon became much bigger than that – a behemoth of an event, inviting bloggers and those who are active online to come and talk to a selection of panellists who also gave talks.

The speakers did a wonderful job – you can watch Dr Andy Williamson from Hansard kick ass talking about things like how governments should do away with copyright completely (which got my friend Carl very excited indeed) below

#senedd2011: Dr Andy Williamson, Hansard – Part One / Rhan Un from Assembly Wales / Cynulliad Cymru on Vimeo.

#senedd2011: Dr Andy Williamson, Hansard – Part Two / Rhan Dau from Assembly Wales / Cynulliad Cymru on Vimeo.

Other speakers were Alison Preston from Ofcom, freelance journalist Marc Webber, and Iwan Williams from the National Assembly. You can see all sorts of other stuff that happened at the event on the Vote2011 wordpress.

It was pretty stressful putting the whole thing together – hence my radio silence on this blog for such a long time. But ultimately it was a really worthwhile experience. I just hope that after the Assembly election on the 5 May, the new Assembly Members pay attention to the direction that their representatives want democracy to move into.


It’s been over a month since my last post. Very slack. Lots of boring and sad personal stuff going on at the moment so excuse irregular updates….

In news of what the haps, the We Are Cardiff storytelling project that I set up with my friend Adam has been a real success – we have had 10K views so far and have linked up with some similar digital portrait sites in San Francisco, Melbourne, and beyond. For news of that, check the hack flash blog, and to read some of the stories, visit the We Are Cardiff site.

I’ve been working on a novel since November 2010 (got part of my dirty draft down thanks to NaNoWriMo, which I didn’t finish, but was useful nonetheless) and last weekend my mum helped me put down the structure for it – the structure was the thing I was having the most difficulty with. I’m no good at things like that – thinking logically and analytically and putting things into a sensible arrangement. My mother, on the other hand, is a dab hand, and helped me shape my bizarre plotline into a logical shape (still bizarre, of course).

For updates on how that’s going, best get me on my Tumblr.

Other stuff

I did an iPod playlist in Journal of Plastik (Mark Thomas featured as one of We Are Cardiff’s earliest stories, so I guess this was returning the favour)

One of my photographs (see below) for the Guardian’s last Project:Document was used in this article about the new theme (Streetlife and Survival)


My friend Adam Corner has recently moved to Kampala in Africa for the next six months, doing some research on climate change. You can follow him on Twitter @AJCorner and check out the Hidden Heat blog he’s updating while he’s over there.

Neil Cocker (our very first We Are Cardiff story!) is putting together the second TEDxCardiff conference which will be held on Saturday 9 April at the Millennium Centre when I, annoyingly, won’t be here to attend (don’t cry about it though as I’ll be road tripping down the west coast of the States with my good friend Hannah. Things could be worse, hey?). Some pretty impressive speakers have already been announced. Keep updated with the TedxCardiff blog or Twitter. Neil is one of the busiest and most productive people I have ever met. He and I have been attempting to arrange having a cup of tea together for about three months. Let’s hope it happens soon!

Adam Chard – my co-hackflash conspirator – has been tinkering with his website and it is looking nice nice. Adam is a Cardiff based photography and design bod and is responsible for some of the nicer posters and CD covers you might have been seeing around Cardiff recently.

And, um, that’s it for the timebeing. I’m back to the novel structure grindstone that I’m cunningly avoiding by updating this. Laters!