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June 29, 2012

Cape Town’s street art – a gallery for all

This mural on Albert Road in Woodstock inspires Lauren every day. Photo courtesy Lauren Fowler

Every day I pass a large mural on a dilapidated building on Albert Road in Woodstock. It is a painting of two Zimbabwean men, Juma and Willard, with the quote, "Inspire ourselves to inspire each other." I read this message every day and in return, it inspires me. This is what street art is about – bringing ideas to everyone who passes by. Street art is for everyone without the pretence of a gallery – it belongs to everyone and no one.

The location of the mural and the canvas also play a role in the artwork. The nature of street art is that it's not at its location for years, as paintings in a gallery sometimes are. It’s not art to be traded, it is art to inspire and inspiration brings change, which in turn empowers people. The images and words created by street artists carry messages to us all, from the subject matter of the piece, to the wall it is created upon, all of this is taken into consideration by the artist. It's an idea that lives out its time until the building is taken down or repainted, however, the real art is the residue that it leaves in our minds and the action we take.

I love this artwork by Ricky Lee Gordon, aka Freddy Sam, a local street artist in Woodstock. Gordon runs the A Word of Art gallery at the Woodstock Exchange (66 Albert Road), and the initiative, Write on Africa. He is involved with a number of projects and internships that involve art on the streets and inside the gallery. Gordon has a beautiful style that links fine art with child-like hand generated type of art and his artwork is noticeable throughout the streets of Woodstock.

Find out more about street artwork tours at the A Word of Art gallery

Images are important to children, especially before they begin to read. Colours, shapes and ideas are depicted through illustration, which transcend language. This is the mission of See Saw Do. They have transformed several crèches in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch and created a mural for a toy library in Mfuleni. I was privileged enough to join hands with See Saw Do and design an illustration for one of the crèches.

You can watch the transformation of Phakamani Crèche below.

Shani Judes, together with Between 10 and 5, gathered 15 artists together to take art out of the gallery and onto the streets of Cape Town and Khayelitsha. The theme for the street art exhibition, Paste, was Khayelitsha culture and it was aimed to give the public the opportunity to view art they would otherwise never see. This form of street art is different from the murals as the artwork can be done in any amount of time, and can be printed and be pasted quickly, therefore arriving at a larger audience in many areas at one time. The piece I chose to do for the project was a chic shack, which is a hybrid between an Edwardian house and a shack.

View more about Paste here

Faith 47 is one of the most popular street artists in Cape Town. Photo courtesy Lauren Fowler

The most popular and internationally renowned street artist in Cape Town has to be Faith 47. Her work is beautiful and thought provoking, and the typography is a voice on its own. Her street art, echoing past and future pieces, ties cities together into one concept.

Her website says, “In a landscape with traces of scratches and memories, Faith investigates how people relate to their surroundings, what marks they leave behind. Her interactions give form to deeply penetrating visual enigmas, resonating with our impermanence and our elusive relationship with symbols and memories, dreams and parabels. In reconstructing lost places and found objects, she brings to life that which has been discarded and often forgotten by society.”

View Faith 47’s work here.

There is a city of art to be seen in Cape Town, open your eyes and look closer. I’m still completely fascinated by the sheer size of some of these artworks. They are here for us to enjoy.

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