Anyone who’s walked the city’s streets knows how creative Cape Town is. From murals, exhibitions, arts and crafts and the fashion on the street, it’s a place to get inspired – either through admiring art, making art or learning about its historical background and how it brings people together. For those who would like to explore Cape Town’s abundant art scene, here’s a list of some of the most interesting creative endeavors, ranging from art-supply megastores and quirky art gallery shops to graffiti tours and art schools.
Clementina van der Walt is a well-known South African studio potter, based in Cape Town, who has in the past four decades lectured, run a production studio and held many one-person shows. Together with her partner Albie Bailey, they run Clementina Ceramics Studio and a separate store in Woodstock.
“My intention is to ‘seek the sacred in the ordinary’,” says Clementina. She believes that making contemplative and utilitarian objects by hand forms a necessary antidote to the information overload of the 21st century.
Clementina’s aesthetic inspiration is drawn from the patterns, colours, and textures in the urban African and rural landscapes, and she applies the techniques of press molding, casting and throwing, using earthenware clays, slips and underglazes.
To view some of her creations as well as some other designer crafts, visit The Clementina Ceramics shop, run by Godet Kamunga at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. Metred parking is available in the complex on weekdays, and on Saturdays, there is secure parking across the road in the Cape College grounds; access is from Kent Road.
Chandler House is a small gallery, shop and studio located in an 18th Century Cape Georgian House in the heart of Cape Town. Opened in 2013 by artist Michael Chandler as a platform for showcasing his designs, the space soon grew to include other inspiring, talented and hard-working Cape artists and makers.
“The Vorkamer Gallery”, a small, street-facing room at the front of the house, hosts monthly exhibitions curated by founder Michael Chandler. It’s used as a platform to promote emerging artists, as well as a space for experimentation and the interrogation of the arts.
In addition to the gallery space, there’s a little shop offering locally-made homeware as well as gifts, antiques, textiles and a selection of art by established and emerging artists.
The Christopher Møller Art Gallery, hidden away on a trendy corner of Kloofnek road, specialises in high quality contemporary art, particularly from the African continent. The owners and staff are friendly and gracious, and it’s well worth popping into for a browse of the elegant, thought-provoking and often humorous works in its cool, calm space.
The gallery showcases select South African masters including painters Aldo Balding, Sibusiso Duma, Jaco Roux, Nora Newton and Cecil Skotnes as well as sculptors Andre Stead and Barry Jackson, and hugely popular photographers Tony Gum and Tsoku Maela. Moller also invests considerable time and skill in wooing artists from further afield, including the internationally renowned Ghanaian octogenarian Professor Ablade Glover, Ethiopian painter Nigatu Tsehay and, more recently, Nigerian artist Dennis Osadebe.
The Christopher Møller Art Gallery also hosts regular exhibitions, and participates in both local and international art fairs.
The Deckle Edge is an art-supply megastore in Salt River, offering a wide range of paper, art materials, and graphic supplies. Starting out as a small craft shop, gift shop, collector’s shop and coffee shop, selling everything from rubber stamps to rooibos tea, the store now includes specialist products for printmakers, illustrators, watercolourists, sculptors and many more. Realising that there are many who desire a touch of creativity in their lives, The Deckle Edge doesn’t just cater to artists but also exists for students getting through architecture school, brides planning their dream wedding, or mothers wanting to try a fun new activity with their kids.
“We believe that every person is creative and we strive to provide them with tools to discover what form that creativity will take for them.”
Founded in 2004 by award-winning artist, Leonie e.Brown, Life Art School is an independent art school based in central Durbanville. From long-term learn-how-to-paint classes, evening classes, weekend and two-day workshops, therapeutic pottery classes, e-courses and online tutorials, they offer a wide range of learning options to a diverse group of participants. Students of all levels learn and refine different techniques in courses that include drawing, painting, classical and modern portraits, advanced techniques as well as abstracts collage and monoprints. For more detailed info on what courses are offered, click here.
The school’s goal is to inspire and engage adults of all ages, abilities, and economic means in the arts. Leonie has a BA (FA Hons) degree, a diploma in teaching and many years of experience, and aims to give the students the best technical background possible – whether it’s absolute beginners or advanced artists.
To sign up for a course and find out what materials are required, head to www.lifeartschool.co.za.
Juma Art Tours was started by Malawi-born and Zimbabwe-raised artist, Juma Mkwela. After fleeing political, social and economic turmoil, and becoming a victim of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, he realised that many xenophobic actions stem from a lack of education and understanding of other cultures. So when he met South African street artist Freddy Sam in 2009, who exposed him to the powerful impact of murals, he realised that he could connect people through street art, and Juma Art Tours was born.
Juma Art Tours offers street art tours on foot or by bicycle in Woodstock and Khayelitsha, and participants can choose to “get their hands dirty” by creating a home garden or painting a mural within the community. Because each mural on the tour has brought people together in some way, participants not only learn about the neighbourhoods they walkthrough but are helping to support and uplift the community.
“You will find a piece of home in every person you meet, every piece of culture and history you experience and every piece of art you encounter.”
Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, the Norval Foundation offers art exhibitions with global appeal, in an environment that also fosters an appreciation for nature. Its sculpture garden, outdoor amphitheatre, purpose-built exhibition spaces and research library are situated within a unique setting that offers visitors a multi-sensory experience. This is complemented by a sophisticated restaurant and bar, a bespoke shop and a children’s playground.
The Norval Foundation aims to create high-quality exhibitions and public programming to broaden the understanding of the visual arts. They are also the custodians of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, Edoardo Villa Estate Collection, and the Alexis Preller Archive.