Cape Town’s multi-faceted art hubs

13 December 2017

— by Verena Neumayr-Howes —

The opening of the Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) very firmly put Cape Town on the global art map this year. While a visit is an absolute must, MOCAA is just the cherry on top of the Mother City’s thriving art scene.

From a grain silo turned modern art mecca, to township streets as art canvases, and our own hotel doubling up as a luxe exhibition space, we give you a glimpse into Cape Town’s burgeoning art scene – and the important connection between art and location. (With the emphasis being on ‘glimpse’ – the city’s numerous art galleries, exhibitions and ever-evolving artistic developments most definitely warrant repeat visits!)


Image © Iman Baan

The who’s who of the international art world descended upon the new Silo District at the V&A Waterfront in September of this year, to witness the unveiling of the eagerly anticipated Zeitz MOCAA. Designed by renowned British architect Thomas Heatherwick and housing over 100 galleries within a disused grain silo, the building itself is a work of art. Take your time to explore what is now the world’s largest 21st century art collection from Africa and its Diaspora – if you can tear yourself away from the architectural feat that is the cathedral-like atrium. The hype preceding the museum’s opening was not unjustified – just like MoMA in New York and Tate Modern in London, Zeitz MOCAA is now a must-visit for anyone coming to the Mother City.

Image © Iman Baan

Art at The Cellars-Hohenort

Zeitz MOCAA is not Cape Town’s only art treasure trove however – you can actually start your very own art journey right within the walls of The Cellars-Hohenort. In 1906, Arnold Spilhaus, founder of the famous Spilhaus homeware emporium, purchased what used to be Klaasenbosch Farm and began construction on the Hohenort (‘high place’) building, a German-style manor that replaced the original thatched farmhouse. Today you can admire a portrait of Spilhaus in the building, as well as a small selection of his niece Nita Spilhaus’ etchings – featuring collections depicting her hometown of Lübeck and places of interest in Cape Town.

The entrance of the Hohenort building further showcases several standout pieces by internationally renowned ceramics brand Ardmore.

Our beloved founder, the late Liz McGrath, was a huge fan of the painstakingly hand-sculpted and -painted South African works of art, which is why the hotel now also hosts an annual Ardmore exhibition – the next one will run from 16-18 February 2018, under the title ‘Ardmore’s Voyage of Discovery’. It is a follow-on from this year’s event, which celebrated the Zambezi’s lush fauna and flora – which coincidentally also served as inspiration for Ardmore’s first collaboration with Parisian fashion house Hermès. The resulting patterned silk scarves were testament to the world-class talent of local designers and artists.

Cape Town’s Street Art Scene

From silk scarves in Paris back to the streets of Cape Town – the diversity of South Africa’s art scene means that success stories often begin right on people’s doorsteps.

Image – Maboneng Township street art tour – © Verena Neumayr-Howes

If you want to delve into the world of Cape Town’s burgeoning street art happenings, book a Maboneng Township Art Tour with Bongani Ngwenya, or Woodstock walking tour with Juma Mkwela. Starting at the Guga S’thebe Culture Centre in Langa, Bongani will take you into the heart of the Langa and Gugulethu townships, highlighting innovative graffiti murals and opening the doors to several ‘home galleries’. Juma meanwhile showcases a range of Woodstock’s thought-provoking street art during a 90-minute guided tour. Seemingly random at first, a closer look reveals that each painting actually conveys an important message, and aims to promote a sense of community within the highly impoverished suburb. Both tours prove to be real eye-openers that will take you right into the heart of Cape Town’s raw artistic scene.

Image – Woodstock walking street art tour – © Verena Neumayr-Howes

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