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June 20, 2012

Woodstock – a creative hub

Woodstock Peace Garden is just one of the many creative and inspirational hubs in this trendy suburb.

Over the past 10 years, the creative scene has crept eastwards, from the heart of Long Street towards the East City district into Woodstock. Young artists and collectives are taking root in the city's more industrial areas and breathing new life into them.

Woodstock is one of Cape Town's oldest suburbs, dating back to 1666 when it was a farm below Devil's Peak. Later, the area now known as Albert Road grew into small groups of fishermen houses and farm cottages. Woodstock had its own beach that later became today's Foreshore. The suburb saw many changes over the years and is now an industrial and artists area with residential houses in between Main and Albert Roads.

Find out more about the rich history of Woodstock on the I Love Woodstock webpage.

The revamp of the area has been in motion for the last decade. The Old Castle Brewery and the Old Biscuit Mill were the first buildings in the area to have a facelift and repurpose. The most recent addition to this collection of revamped buildings is the Woodstock Foundry. An old hotel in its day, the Foundry now houses creatives and local businesses, where you can purchase jewellery, hanging plants, skulls (real or wooden), furniture, imported stationery, art pieces, sculptures, a cross stitch hoop or just get your hair cut while enjoying a glass of wine. This is also where my studio, Lost Is A Place Too has come to realisation.

Every part of the building has been curated and cared for to the last detail. The courtyard is a living piece of art, as one can't distinguish where the beautiful original stone work meets with the refurbished areas. Plants appear through gaps in the stones to create a centre piece, the heart of the building. You can find Vogel, Cassamento, Selah, The Lobby, Dear Rae, O.Live, Bronze Age, Opus and Lost Is A Place Too all at 150 Albert Road.

Bronze Age

Dear Rae

Lauren has found creative inspiration in her Woodstock-based studio, Lost Is A Place Too.

Just up the road, there is some major development happening. The Woodstock Industrial Centre has changed ownership and is being gutted to become, in my opinion, one of the hottest spots in the area. This building is set to house some amazing talent and should be a focal point for the public to meet and peruse local products. Tenants residing in the building include Thingking, Chapel bags, A Word of Art, Rosetta Roastery, Only Today and Social 1. The building is still in its construction phase, but keep a lookout for activity here later this year.

Right next door at no.48 is the third Side Street Studio building. With the tagline "Space inspired by you", this initiative is the home to artists' studios. This is the largest building to date that Side Street Studios has taken on and will no doubt be a hub of creativity. The new premises already boasts tenants such as Faith47, DAL, Stuart Bird, Bibliophile, Slice Above, Tera Brands, Nix Davis, Barand De Wet, Gabriel Clark-Brown, ThingKing, Cafè Racer Custom Bikes and The Play Ground.

Woodstock is a place of revamping, renewing and reconnecting, a suburb with its focus on looking to the future. With 2014 just around the corner, we want to show the world what we can do and how we do it.

Another Albert Road local, Vamp, is all about renewing and looking to the past to bring beauty and nostalgia back into our homes, with a modern twist. You'll find mid-century furniture, vintage kitchenalia that you once saw in your grandmother's house, and bright licks of colour that breathe new life into furniture from yesteryear.

Find Vamp at 368 Albert Road (Opposite the Old Biscuit Mill).

When people think about Woodstock, they usually think about busy streets with trucks, taxis, industrial buildings and beautiful street art on walls. The one thing that may not come to mind is organic food. Tucked away in Salisbury Street off Roodebloem Road is Wild Organics. All produce is fresh and all sourced from local organic, free-range farms. Check their website for more information or to see a product list. They also offer a seasonal organic bag for R150, which is scrumptious.

The last initiative I want to mention is the Woodstock Peace Garden. Ironically, I stumbled across this initiative online rather than in the area and I've been completely captivated by its sentiment.

The Woodstock Peace Garden has become one of Lauren's top spots in her suburb.

Started in 2008 by Bruce Beyer, it was a barren area on Alpha School's property. The initiative for the garden was, "to create awareness for autism and reconnect with Mother Earth".

I visited the garden one morning and was given a tour, and it's hard to believe that a once barren area below the highway has become an oasis where "aquaponics" takes place. There is a beautiful labyrinth, a play area for the autistic children from Alpha school where they can also learn about nature and recycling.

The sentiment of the garden, as well as the name, say it all, in their own words: "An ubuntu community component with community food gardens, recycling and education opportunities. Open early mornings and late afternoons, you can have a key cut and use this facility in a variety of ways: walk the dog, play with children,walk the labyrinth, drop off branches for chipping, drop off kitchen waste for composting (Bokashi, worms, black soldier fly), learn about aquaponics, food gardening, research, Tai Chi…the sky's the limit. We are exploring worm farms, Bokashi, aquaponics, composting, recycling, food plants, building a food forest, re-use, sharing, urban agriculture, urban regeneration, symbiosis, art, water, autism, awareness, life, goggos, just another day at the Offishe!"

This is sure to be my new creative obsession in Woodstock. Nothing makes me feel more creative and connected than gardening and learning about the way things work. This really is a garden for all. The plants are full of life and healthy proof that a plant can grow anywhere with love and care.

Visit the peace garden at the top of Mountain Road, just as the road curves beneath the highway.

Lauren Fowler is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, a keen city bicyclist and occasional model (if you look closely at our branding you're sure to spot her). Follow her on twitter at @LaurenXFowlerwww.laurenfowler.co.za

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