Walking a city reveals so much more of its character and I’ve got my Replay Sneakers to ease my preferred form of urban exploration. My strong recommendation is that you get yourself a pair of Replay Sneakers too and get out there. Ideally with a strong emphasis on the exciting and colourful art scene which reveals so much about a nation and its people.
The Cape Town Art & Culture Is Calling.
Get your creative fix in Mother City
With a melting pot of creatives producing art, music, and literature and many resident artists, sculptors, and street artists proudly leaving their mark, the city draws global acclaim. It is dotted with private art galleries, niche museums and intimate theatres. The Iziko National Gallery in the Company Gardens, Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay, Artscape Theatre and the Baxter Theatre are all noteworthy. In regenerated Woodstock, the Goodman Gallery, Stevenson Contemporary Art Gallery and Blank Gallery represent artists from across the country. The District Six Museum, Jewish Museum and the Iziko South African Museum warrant a visit too.
Cape Town & Surrounds
With a melting pot of people producing art, music, and literature and many resident artists, sculptors, and street artists proudly leaving their mark, the city draws global acclaim. It is dotted with private art galleries, niche museums and intimate theatres. In regenerated Woodstock, the Goodman Gallery, Stevenson Contemporary Art Gallery and Blank Gallery represent artists from across the country. In the Silo District of the V&A Waterfront, the Zeitz MOCAA Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is a must-visit (closed on Mondays) not least for its striking architecture.
The largest art museum in Africa, Zeitz showcases, researches and collects the works of Africa and its diaspora. The public not-for-profit museum was commissioned through a public/private partnership between the V&A Waterfront and German businessman, Jochen Zeitz, who has loaned his extensive art collection for his lifetime. The collection includes works by eminent artists such as Chris Ofili, Kudzanai Chiurai, Kehinde Wiley, Marlene Dumas, Wangechi Mutu and Julie Mehretu.
The building was constructed by converting the 57m tall historic Grain Silo, originally built in 1921 and decommissioned in 2001. The architects aimed to conserve and celebrate the original structure’s industrial heritage, excavating large open spaces from the 42 densely packed concrete cylinders to form a cathedral-like entrance with acoustics to match, and over 100 halls to fill with the artwork.
The adjacent Southern Guild is a must too. Founded in 2008, it has pioneered the African continent’s functional art and collectable design. The gallery’s rigorous curatorial program has shaped the world’s perceptions of African design, forging a unique and solid narrative. As the gallery evolved, its exhibitions broadened to encompass contemporary fine art. The gallery works closely with its artists and designers in cross-disciplinary collaborations, contemporary craft and sustainability within the luxury and social impact arenas. Southern Guild is unique on the continent for its hands-on involvement.
Similarly, the Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression dedicated to researching and exhibiting 20th- and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond. Located in Steenberg in the Southern Suburbs, it combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature. The innovative Sculpture Garden, outdoor amphitheatre, exhibition spaces and research library provide a multisensory experience. These are matched by the Skotnes Restaurant and bespoke museum shop – a great spot for coffee or lunch.
Art in the Cape Winelands
It’s a natural fit, blending curated art with the Cape’s picturesque Winelands. Be it perfectly sculpted pieces that add character to landscaped lawns, galleries that showcase the best of the country’s classical artists or a space where contemporary art meets African fusion. There is certainly something very alluring about experiencing an artist’s raw expression while under the guidance of Bacchus himself.
The Cape Winelands have excellent art galleries, specifically in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Among them is the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch, the world-class Red Hot Glass glassblowing studio at Spice Route Paarl and Delaire Graff Estate which is home to Vladimir Tretchikof’s remarkable Chinese Girl. Their wine-tasting and dining experience make for an exceptional experience. Franschhoek prides itself on having an exceptional array of galleries and just walking up the main street will bring you to many. Noteworthy are the Leeu Collection, Sénéchal-Senekal Art Gallery and Everard Read.
Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden. Dylan Lewis is Africa’s renowned living figurative sculptor. Collectively his bronzes form a powerful commentary on nature and the wilderness, specifically his coveted big cat series. Other profound works are of the human form, his shamanic figures and monumental abstract bronzes. Brought to life at the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden outside Stellenbosch, a passion project since 2009 and a place of expansive views, aromas and the soothing sounds of trickling water. Amid the tranquil groves and indigenous vegetation, over 60 sculptures form a comprehensive record of his life’s work. Book a private guide to bring the four kilometres of life paths, as you journey through the different themes that range from esoteric inspiration to the inner workings of his creations in his studio.
Lionel Smit is one of South Africa’s most prolific and exalted artists known for his creative masterpieces in a variety of mediums, most specifically his contemporary portraiture and monumental canvases and sculptures of women. This tangible blend of techniques and genres can be appreciated at his impressive studio on Somerset West. Designed and built by renowned architect Stuart Hermansen of HB Architects, it is a voluminous space, almost church-like in terms of spatial quality. More than a gallery, it is a destination where you can inspiration through art – as well as an excellent cup of coffee prepared by the artist himself. Born in 1982 in Pretoria, Smit’s work has been the subject of several solo exhibitions, his striking painting Kholiswa has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, and his work has been featured on the cover of Christie’s Auction Catalogue.
Hoping this serves as an intro and will inspire you to keep an eye on Cape Town’s inspired art scene, artists, and all that they bring to come to this incredible city.
** This post is made possible by Superbalist – who understands the needs of travellers. Me in particular.
** All images sourced. Connect with me for help with your travel arrangements.