I love street art. Walking around Cape Town, whether it be to grab my morning coffee, or to pick up groceries, feels more delightful because of the organic gallery that is my city. Especially when a new piece of art pops up on a previously unremarkable stretch of street. What a cheeky surprise!
Street art has the magical ability to turn a dingy industrial district into a hyperlocal gallery. Like the philosopher's stone turning lead into gold, an abandoned warehouse is transformed into a scenic wonderland. A glimpse into an artist's soul. A wall which used to display "50% off beds" in cracked orange paint is now a colourful montage of animals flying through the neighbourhood. Their destination, uncertain.
Over time (and if you take an interest) you'll start to recognise the different artists by their style. The neighbourhood becomes a treasure hunt where finding a new piece of art is an event. I like to take snapshots to send to my friends along with the location so if they're in the area, they can see it too.
Cause this art is ephemeral.
The above example of the colourful animals is now a construction site for a new block of flats. In a way it's similar to a gallery in even this, where the murals pass through. Some sticking around for years, and others disappearing into the ether, never to be seen again.
Street art is the catalyst that turns the old-and-run-down into the new-up-and-coming. A bottom-up revitalisation of an area, and a point of pride amongst its residents.
There's something else. Something primordially authentic about street art in particular. Like ancient cave paintings there is no economic reward. Instead it's the modern handprint on the cave wall saying: "I was here".
If you're interested in seeing some Cape Town's street art, this Instagram account has a pretty good catalogue.