Cape Town: The City of Unexpected Treats (24/10/14)

In the past nine months, my time in Cape Town has taught me many things but perhaps the most valuable lesson the city can teach its citizens is to expect the unexpected and to always keep an eye out for the Mother City’s many hidden treasures.

Okay, so the fun and, as an added bonus, entirely free open-air art exhibition that a close friend and fellow aspiring journalist and I chanced upon today was not, strictly speaking, ‘hidden’ but it was certainly unexpectedly wonderful!

We were strolling through the Company Gardens (famous for its tame squirrels, museums, art galleries and planetarium, as well as a wide range of both indigenous and foreign plants, trees and flowers), as we wanted to visit the tame furry guys (you know the ones, with their bushy tails and generalised penchant for acorns) and see the National Art Gallery (we did go to the gallery afterwards and, although I am not someone with a taste for fine art, it was indeed rich in historical artworks and had many rather fascinating items on display but it’s a story meant for another day) located near the centre of the garden when we noticed a white arrow pinned to one of the oak trees that line the garden’s main road.

The arrow was pointing ahead with something about a ‘Doodle Art’ exhibit printed on it.

We decided to check out the exhibit if it was close by to us and didn’t require us to pay a large entry fee (but happily, the latter was not true at all) and a bit further on, we did indeed stumble upon the event.

It is being held in the main garden facility where the lawns, museum and war memorials are located and it is being sponsored and/or hosted by energy drink manufacturers and suppliers, RedBull.

The exhibit is entirely free and runs from today until Sunday, from 10:00 am until 18:00 pm each day, as we later found out from one of the many helpful and friendly RedBull women at hand.

As you walk in, you’ll the famous red and yellow RedBull logo and an accompanying thick, white ‘Doodle Art’ phrase, with ‘#doodleart’ and ‘#globalgallery’ below in blue-and-white lettering, written on the cobblestones and there’s a signpost with every country represented by a featured artist.

And this is where the phrase ‘global gallery’ comes into play, as there are featured artists from everywhere from Kuwait to South Africa itself and every country has presumably been represented by its own local ‘RedBull Doodle Art’ winner, the best of the best.

The artworks have been made out of what looked to me like a kind of hard, white cardboard-like material (though I can’t say for certain what it is, only that it was able to withstand the artists’ original doodling, as well as the strong Cape Town winds) and they are really the most amazing works of art/sculptures.

No doubt the city won the right to host this event as a result of its being the 2014 World Design Capital and I am very grateful that it has hosted it because I had great fun admiring the doodle art and stopping to read the artists’ descriptions, which are available at the touch of a tablet screen.

(Apparently you can also stand a chance of winning a tablet if you tweet a photo of the exhibit or featured works along with the hashtags: ‘doodleart’ and ‘globalgallery’ etc.)

Each description provides you with: the artist’s name, their country’s name and national flag, as well as the reasoning behind the artist’s career and art subject choice and what the subject represents or embodies from each specific country.

Some represent national landmarks, natural structures or even just certain aspects taken out of local folktale.

There are so many to choose from and they were all very clever and wonderful in their own right but my top three were the ones from Sri Lanka, the Philippines and of course, my own South Africa.

I won’t spoil it for any locals who might still wish to see or experience the exhibition this weekend but I will say this: you’ll need a telescope to see the true beauty of Table Mountain, which features in the South African display, for a change. 🙂

To name but a few of the countries featured, you have: Armenia, Kuwait, Japan, Holland, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Taiwan, Japan, Romania, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Monaco.

I was rather surprised to see that the ‘usual suspects’, America and the United Kingdom, did not feature but it was nice to learn more about a few other, less ‘famous’ countries.

I thoroughly enjoyed the event and found the RedBull representatives very friendly and informative. If you need more background history on the displays or would like your photo taken, they are likely to be more than happy to oblige.

There is also accompanying music, RedBull promotional cars and tents around and plenty of promotional banners on display.

Thanks to this fine and greatly enjoyable little event, I have a new-found respect for ‘doodlers’ and can recommend the event to anyone. It had a solid turnout today, which consisted of both locals and foreigners alike.

(Just a friendly word of warning, though… don’t enter the event with any other make of energy drink in hand! One gentleman tried to walk in with another energy drink make’s bottle and he was immediately barred access.)

(Note: On Sunday the ‘global’ winner will be announced.)

Below I have included my favourite photos from today:

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Louis, one the Company Gardens bright-eyed and bushy tailed inhabitants.

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The RedBull logo and event name.

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The necessary hash-tag phrases for the event’s competition and promotions.

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One of the promotional RedBull vehicles.

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A kind of Turkish war horse.

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The signpost listing every represented country.

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Christ the Redeemer (Brazil) has left Rio de Janeiro for Cape Town.

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The back of a truck by a Pakistani artist.

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A ‘horned’ shoe. (Serbia)

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A book from Georgia with cartoon images and the Georgian alphabet covering its pages.

Let me know your thoughts or suggestions! I'd love to hear from you.