Anna Burkey refers to herself as a ‘Literary Ninja‘ developing great ideas into creative projects with stories. Read what inspires her where she lives:

Woodstock mural, Table Mountain behind

Set below the majestic Table Mountain and almost surrounded by the sea, Cape Town is a city brimming with interesting ideas and creative people – a stroll down the iconic Long Street shows a myriad of boutiques aimed at hipsters and fashionistas, scattered amidst the backpacker lodges, trendy bars and African curio shops.

It can be pretty hard to engage with the Mother City’s creative scene, but a good way to start is to head to one of the many creative goods markets that Cape Town does so well. Amidst the open-air shops selling contemporary ceramics, handmade shoes, clothing and jewellery there’s great live music, haybales for benches, breakfast mojitos and an impressive array of food and restaurant stalls.

The biggest is the Neighbour Goods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill, a former factory (yup, a biscuit mill) that has been revamped to house artists’ shops, bars and trendy restaurants: it’s based in the regenerating Woodstock area, which embraces Cape Town’s fondness for the trends of vintage and handmade, recycling and upcycling.

Woodstock mural by visiting Spanish artist

Woodstock is undergoing massive change, as the rundown and deprived district is colonised by upmarket galleries and polished cafes, and the local community tries to make sense of these marked changes. It’s full of energy, an edgy part of town where chic furniture shops sit alongside liquor stores and scrap metal lots – but what I love the most is the urban art, the giant murals that take over whole buildings and streets, with residents and business owners clamouring to have their buildings put forward as the next blank canvas.

Artists and designers are being seen as a key element in driving social change in South Africa: the townships that surround the cities are full of creative and talented people looking for opportunities. Spier Art Centre buys from (and mentors) local artists and sells the work on, the Cape Craft and Design Institute has impressive facilities available and the Design Indaba Expo showcases the country’s top Emerging Creatives, whatever their background.

Stands at Design Indaba for Fashion Council

Come at the right time of year, and there will be festivals aplenty to choose from: the huge Jazz & Blues Festival is a highlight of the year; the lush Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens host summer concerts in Lost World-like surroudings; the surrounding wine estates run laidback weekends of music and food, and AfrikaBurn transforms April with three days of art installations and dancefloors deep in the nearby Karoo desert.

At night, you can slink up to the roof of the Grand Daddy Hotel to watch a classic movie at their outdoor cinema, surrounded by retro 50s trailers that have been individually designed as quirky hotel rooms, from AfroFunk to The Three Bears’ Cottage (complete with one bed too hard, one too soft and one just right.)

Creative Blocks project at Spier Art Centre

But, perhaps best of all, it is what you stumble on accidentally that makes Cape Town so much fun. Just yesterday, I found the local bakery taken over with a knitting drive, good-naturedly getting customers to knit a section of the winter blankets that’ll be donated to nearby charities. That’s my kind of city.

Visit Anna Burkey’s website here.
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My Creative Scene is an insight into different creative & cultural happenings in cities where our members and readers live. Browse through more insider guides here or contact us to write about the arts scene where you are.