New Era South Africa

Last weekend, my Twitter feed was abuzz with chat from the launch of an exhibition here in Cape Town called New Era SA. I had no idea what or where it was, but it sounded like it was fun, that people were impressed by the displays and that there was music, beer and an interesting crowd.

It took me a while to find the place – I sent out a plaintive tweet asking for info, but had given up and was walking home as my phone cheeped with news that I was just round the corner from the exhibition, a mere hour before it closed and moved on with it’s tour, heading for Dubai.

Graffiti artists had reworked the outside of the The Bank gallery, which opened out onto the roadside with sofas and music, making the surrounding space part of the New Era Introducing vibe.

Hats!* Turns out it was a whole room full of customised baseball caps, created by artists from Germany, South Africa, UAE, Sweden and the UK. The exhibition had been touring, beginning in London and with stops including Berlin and the United Arab Emirates.

Each artist had pitched an idea to the producer, with the 50 winning pitches being send a kit comprising a cap to customise, marker pens to inspire, a diary to log their journey and a small digital videocamera to record the process of creation.

I love that they got a videocamera – it made for some great multi-media content on the screens around the gallery. It reminded me of director Kevin Macdonald’s his amazing experimental project Life in a Day.

Incidentally, Macdonald sent 400 cameras to rural contacts in the developing world – he was open enough to add in an interview later that he wished he’d sent 40 cameras, accompanied by a cameraman to train people to use them, as the skills weren’t in place to get him the footage that he needed.

Visions of a New Era

Each artist had a different vision of what a new era meant to them, though themes recurred: celebrations of heritage; manifestations of identity; nods to the past and glimpses of what the future of the New Era may hold.

There was a cap encased as though fossilised and a futuristic, space-age interpretation. Here’s a few of my favourites, from this colourful explosion to brighten up the urban landscape to this delicate working marionette-theatre, complete with instruction book:

From multi-media displays of the artists at work to a cap that is rooted in the traditional South African craft-making of the KwaZulu-Natal region.

Seems the creative New Era will be a colourful one, where the Princess slays the trolls in fairytales, and ancient skills are celebrated and respected:

*I am almost of fond of hats as of shoes.


THE BLOG: creative Cape Town 

Adventures from Anna in creative Cape Town and at the inspirational Design Indaba.

Anna’s ICE Fellowship – my International Creative Entrepreneurs (ICE) Fellowship in South Africa is part of Creative Scotland’s innovative Creative Futures leadership fund.


Recent Stories from Cape Town

Introducing COMMON Pitch: South Africa – features ferris-wheels, explosions & superheroes at the party to fix the world.

The Fringe Handmade – a buzzy creative goods market in District Six.

Welcome to Design Indaba – the mind-expanding conference & showstopping Expo.


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