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Creative things to do in Cape Town | Workshops & ideas

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Cape Town is a wonderful place for creatives to live. There’s always something going on! While this post can’t cover all of the events, workshops, galleries and open mic nights, we wanted to provide an overview. 

So if you’re feeling a bit stuck and want to explore more creative options, read on for our top recommendations!

Quick look: who to follow for updated creative workshops

The list below is some of my top recommendations, but there is honestly so much more to do in the city. It’s a creative hub, with workshops for cyanotype printing, flower pressing, natural dying, carpet making — all sorts of wonderful creative activities. I’ll be updating this list as I find more wonderful options!

So, before we jump into the general advice, here are some awesome local creatives that offer workshops in Cape Town:

A recent workshop with artist Katherine Horn at Kaya Cafe

9 creative things to do in Cape Town

And now, for the more general creative experiences and ideas! Like the list above, this is sourced from my own experience and will be expanded on as I find more crafty activities in my beloved city.

Art galleries

Cape Town has some of the coolest art galleries around. Reflective of South Africa’s diversity, there is a broad range of galleries, from contemporarily fantastic to old-school grand and everything in between. 

First Thursdays

Kalk Bay First Thursdays art gallery

First Thursday at InkBox Gallery, Kalk Bay

The best way to experience and enjoy the galleries of Cape Town’s CBD, First Thursday occurs on the first Thursday of each month. Art galleries around the city will stay open much later than usual operating hours (don’t trust Google for open hours on First Thursday), most of them selling alcohol and giving visitors an opportunity to experience the art of Cape Town in a fun and social way, my personal favourite way to enjoy art!

Recently, First Thursdays in the Deep South have also started, with the many art galleries in Kalk Bay also opening their doors — and offering free wine and beer — to evening visitors. Muizenberg, for its part, has live music at The Commons, and a few lovely galleries also exhibiting. 

Zeits MOCCA

One of the most incredible architectural feats in Cape Town, the Zeitz MOCAA (Museum Of Contemporary Art Africa) was once a grain silo that has been reimagined into an incredible space for African artists to exhibit their work.

Youngblood Africa Art Gallery

Possibly my favourite art gallery in Cape Town, Youngblood is a stunning exhibition space for African artists to display their works, with three floors of exhibition space. There’s some really fantastic work here, they host occasional events, and also have a lovely restaurant if you want to dine among the artistry.

South African National Gallery & Irma Stern Museum

These two in particular are spaces for historical works that you may have seen in school or your text books. 

The Irma Stern Museum was once the home of the acclaimed South African artist Irma Stern. Now it serves as a vibrant space for anyone to explore her and other artists’ works.

The South African National Gallery of Art is the Mother City’s premier art space where visitors can find a collection of historical, modern, and contemporary art from artists across South Africa and beyond. Visiting this museum is an excellent way to learn about South African art history and more!

Live drawing class

If you’ve never done a live drawing class before, buckle up, and put your adult face on. 

To be serious, a live drawing class is a fantastic opportunity to study and capture the human form, in a number of interesting ways. From that fold there to the way the neck cranes and twists the back, live drawing gives you an opportunity to look and express. It’s also really fun!

Kalk Bay Community Centre

The Kalk Bay Community Centre hosts a live drawing class every Tuesday, and it’s brilliant. You bring your own materials, pay R55 at the door, and off you go. Someone will sit in the centre of a large circle of artists, and change positions with predetermined regularity. At the class I joined, we started with 10 seconds, 1 minute, up to a full 30 minute sit.

What I really enjoy about these art classes is that you can do as you see fit. One elderly gentleman sculpted the muse in clay, while others used charcoal, pencil, pastels and more. I myself chose watercolours, and while this is supposed to just be a study, not the time to create fully-fledged artworks, I have three little works I made hanging in my room, I was so pleased. 

If you are new to live drawing, I do recommend that you try more of a class format, as these can be particularly intimidating for newcomers.

Tiffany Onderstall Live Drawing 

Based in Woodstock, this is a great way to get involved in live drawing. At R160 pp with all materials included, Tiffany provides a great space for newcomers and artists alike to try live drawing in any medium. It takes place every second Wednesday of the month from 7– 9 pm so be sure to plan in advance.

En-plein-air watercolour on the mountain

Two landscape paintings by Katja

Two very different examples of a landscape you can paint/sketch; next time I’ll get a shot outdoors!

We have such beautiful spaces in Cape Town to do some out-of-doors painting or sketching. Get a group of friends together, pack a picnic and some art supplies, and trek up a mountain! 

Table Mountain’s a pretty hefty hike, so a mountain like Silvermine or Little Lion’s Head is better for this. Then you can paint the views, the flowers and plants, the clouds, lichen on the rocks, a friend sitting at their own painting. It’s a beautiful way to spend a half-day. 

Cooking classes

cape malay cooking class

Learning to cook Cape Malay cuisine with Faldela

Now, whoever doesn’t think of cooking as a creative activity isn’t doing it right. A South African cooking class is such a fun way to experiment with spices and flavours you don’t know well. 

We love the Cape Malay cooking class in Bo Kaap, where you learn how to make curry, samosas, roti and salsa. It’s such a fun experience — best done with a friend or partner, that you can then host a Cape Malay food night for your friends or family!

Street Art walking tour

Woodstock street art

Street art in Woodstock

Cape Town is covered in the most incredible street art. The trick is to know where to look. You could find a guided street art walking tour online which I would recommend if you are unfamiliar with the areas you are visiting. That being said, if you’d like to do this yourself, a great place to start is Woodstock — that’s where most of the tours go, anyway! 

Open mic nights

Cape Town is a city full of creatives, and open mic nights are a fantastic opportunity for these brilliant individuals to showcase their talents. Not every performer will be your cup of tea, but open mic nights are different to karaoke events, with a touch more professionalism and skill, instead of just plain eagerness.

Youngblood Gallery has recently started hosting monthly open mic nights, Armchair Theatre has a proud tradition of them,  and The House of Machines also offers regular opportunities. That being said, open mic nights are sporadic, and often hard to pin down. Here is a link to a page that shares the offerings in any given week, so if you have a sudden hankering for up and coming or unknown talent, you can take a quick look.

Pottery workshops

pottery workshop date sea point

Pottery and mimosa date at Baikt

There are a lot of pottery workshops in Cape Town’s neighbourhoods, and they are such a wonderful way to spend a few hours! Sink your hands in some clay, get creative, and see just how far your creation falls from what you pictured in your head. Sorry, but if this is among your first few times potting, that’s just the reality! But it doesn’t matter; you made a thing. That’s the important part.  

Pottery takes about two months to bake and glaze, so you won’t get to take it home, but it’ll be another great day when you do get the call to come collect, and you can put your cute little soap dish/pen holder/wonky cup in its spot in your home.

Montebello Design Centre

With 25 different arts and craft studios and workshops, the Montebello Design Centre is one of Cape Town’s best kept secrets. Located in Newlands under the shade of trees planted more than 250 years ago, Montebello is your one-stop destination for all your creative endeavours, not just pottery.

Beading, artwork, traditional African instruments and of course, the ceramics workshops hosted by John Bauer. These are the Explosive Ceramics 101 workshops and take a unique approach to pottery and ceramic making! 

Clay Hands

A beautiful creative home for those looking to become more invested in pottery and clay. Clay Hands offers a variety of courses and classes for you to participate in. If you’re just starting out and eager to learn more, I’d recommend checking out their intro short course which is 5 weeks long and is perfect for beginners.

Clay hands also offers regular classes for all levels of experience, as well as once-off workshops that take place once or twice a month. Student discounts are available as well as catch-up classes for those who have purchased a pass but missed a day. Aprons, coffee, tea, and all the tools are provided along with clay and firing. 

Baikt

Another lovely pottery workshop, this one is hosted in Sea Point and provides drinks with your potting experience. Ideal for a crafty date! The workshops here are really cute and curated, and include mimosa Saturdays, date night, and queer events.

Beading workshops

our beading day at Soul workshop

Beading bracelets at Soul Design

Soul Design Kalk Bay

We went beading at Soul Design in Kalk Bay the other day, and it was a terrific time. You can get creative with your colours and bead types, your charms and style, and then walk off with your own creations! The location is also so beautiful, with huge windows overlooking the bay, impeccable music choices, and the option of tea or gin and tonics.

This is a creative activity I’d recommend doing with friends. Most places that provide workshops, like Soul Design, offer them for groups of 6+.

DIY beads with friends

Of course, you can also get your buddies together and bead at someone’s home. That can be just as fun, just a lot more preparation and bead-acquisition! Some recommendation I could make to make this easier are The Bead Shop in Cavendish and Big Tree Designs in Ndabeni.

Tufting your own carpet

If I’m honest, I didn’t think I’d be adding carpet tufting to this list. But its become really popular recently and for good reason — it’s darn fun! Tuft Crowd (very fun name, nicely done) offers workshops where you can tuft small to medium rugs of your own design. 

It’s a 3-hour workshop where you’ll learn how to tuft from the professionals, get plenty of assistance along the way where needed, and trim and shave the piece so that you walk away with your very own self-made rug by the end of the day.

Get creative in Cape Town

In conclusion, Cape Town stands as a vibrant haven for creatives, offering so many workshops and activities for you to explore your creative side. 

Cape Town’s artistic heartbeat is not just confined to traditional forms, but has expanded to embrace a kaleidoscope of creative activities. So, whether you’re a seasoned artist or a novice looking to explore your creative side, Cape Town welcomes you with open arms and a palette of possibilities!

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