Woodstock-Street-Art

Juma Art Tours Showcases Cape Town’s Street Art

By: Matthew

“What’s the difference between tagging and vandalism,” asked Juma. He let us ponder it for a moment and then replied, “Tagging is when you add something without changing the piece, whereas vandalism alters the artworks original idea, message or intent.” That was the moment Juma transformed from being a docent reciting a stale tour to being a guide leading us on an expedition through his community. It was apparent that Juma lived and breathed the street art in front of us, and he was as much a part of it, as it was of him.

Can you spot the "Tag" in this piece?

Can you spot the “Tag” in this piece?

The symbol of the infamous Woodstock tagger.

The symbol of the infamous Woodstock tagger.

The last time we were in Cape Town was five years ago. The weather was cold, rainy and windy. Most of our time was spent either indoors or driving the Cape Peninsula. We do remember driving passed some murals and making a note next time we were in town we needed to look into the street art scene. Upon our return to Cape Town, the first adventure we scheduled was a tour with Juma Mkwela of Juma Art Tours to guide us through the sea of art in the Woodstock area.

To understand the importance of the art in Woodstock, one needs to know how it came to be. The Woodstock Exchange, once the Woodstock Industrial Center, lies at the center of this story, much like it marks the heart of Woodstock itself. Once home to artists, designers, and small-scale manufacturers it was sold to developers who came in and turned it into a retail and dining hub, leaving its previous occupants looking for new digs. Many of them chose to stay in the neighborhood creating the base for one of the best street art movements we have come across. There are approximately 110 pieces throughout the area with an unheard of shelf life, some of these pieces are coming into their fifth year. In some cities, artists pieces are vandalized hours or days after they appear, but to have a community that not only respects but promotes each other is inspiring.

Mural by Jack Fox.

Mural by Jack Fox.

Piece by Little Madi and Koralie.

Piece by Little Madi and Koralie.

Piece by NardStar.

Piece by NardStar.

Elephant on Gympie Street by Mika Mika aka Makatron.

Elephant on Gympie Street by Mika Mika aka Makatron.

Characters by Rayzer and Conform.

Characters by Rayzer and Conform.

Murals aren't the only way to improve the neighborhood.

Murals aren’t the only way to improve the neighborhood.

Juma has been giving tours of his neighborhood since 2012 and believes that colorful streets are like walking in the light. “We paint to inspire ourselves so as to inspire others,” says Juma about the movement that has put Woodstock on the map. Woodstock used to be known for a very different reason, a place even the police would hesitate to enter. Now you will find a district that is shaking away its checkered past and rising as an example of what can happen. Walking the art-lined streets with Juma we felt safe, but it was also obvious to us had we been on our own with our cameras hanging out we would not have felt as secure. With that said, yes, we would still visit and walk Woodstock on our own. The area has so much to offer. We just wouldn’t take all our gear with us.

Woodstock Street Art.

Woodstock Street Art.

Woodstock Street Art.

Travelasics

How to Book with Juma

Website info: Township Art Tours

Cost: R200pp and up depending on the tour of our choosing

Meeting Place: Front entrance of Woodstock Exchange or designated place agreed upon between you and Juma

Travelationship Rating:

4 out of 5 Travelationship High Fives. We would like to see Juma’s website provide more detailed information about each tour. When we arrived, he explained the art routes are split into two sections. We toured section one which covered many pieces East of Woodstock Exchange. Had we known there were two parts and a lot more art to see we would have scheduled differently. Type of traveler rating – adventure, historical, bucket lister, street art, local.

Heather, Juma and Matt - Juma Art Tours.

Heather, Juma and Matt.

See More Photos on Flickr and Please look for us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

* Thank you to Juma for the complimentary tour. As always, our opinions are ours – honest, not biased and as we experienced.

Comments 35

  1. Pingback: Maynard's Street Art Obsession - Cape Town, SA - Travelationship

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. This is incredibly creative side of Cap town. I love the way you captured the essence of art in the city. And I would love to take Juma Art Tour whenever I visit South Africa in future.

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  3. I’ve recently started looking into street art (in both Bogota, Colombia & Bristol, England). I’ve never been one for art museums, but I love how accessible the art is when it’s graffiti or street art. Thanks for sharing another great place to check it out.

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  4. Really cool post – love the pics too. I went on a street art tour in London a few months ago and it was such an amazing way to learn about my home city. It’s crazy how much art there is everywhere, and sometimes you don’t end up noticing it at all!

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  5. Awesome – I love street art tours and have heard before that Cape Town is great in terms of that! I’ll pin this to my Africa inspiration board as I hope to take some time off for extensive travel around the continent one day 😀

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  6. That is some incredible street art guys and to do it with a tour guide, understanding what each murial represents is pretty awesome, especially for such a place like Cape Town. You have inspired me to see if anything like this is available in Rome 🙂 Grazie and safe travels!

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      We have taken quite a few street art tours and would rate this as either our fav… or at least top 2. Part of what made it so interesting was to learn about how the neighborhood has changed from really dangerous to up and coming artsy. And the residents embrace the art. Lots of houses are painted with full murals. I wouldn’t recommend walking the area alone with all your camera gear, but with Juma we felt very safe.

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