I recently moved to Observatory or “Obs” as the locals affectionately refer it as. An area described as the, “most bohemian suburb” which lies east of the city centre, Cape Town. This neighborhood of predominantly semi-detached houses strung together along narrow roads is an eccentric, multicultural enclave. The past decade has led to the city’s renaissance – attracting artists and other creative types from all over the world. However, with a closer engagement one can notice the community residing there, reveals this social space so much more than its quirky façade.
While many homes are hidden behind tall concrete walls topped with razor wire, broken bottles or displaying various security posters, this small town exhumes community and friendliness.
Within a week of residing in my new place I had met three of my neighbours. Something that somewhat surprised me, considering I had only ever met one of my neighbours at my previous flat in a duration of two years. Our new neighbours instantly welcomed us, even inviting us to there Private WhatsApp group for Street Alerts. A messaging group where we can communicate with our neighbours if anyone every feels threatened or notices suspicious behaviour.
Already I can say, Observatory has shown me what it is like to be in a small town and have that sense of community. It is a place where everyone keeps an eye out for one another. So whilst some individuals may see this neighborhood as down-and-out, to me it is one of the most hospital, easygoing and creative hubs in Cape Town.
Even street artists have taken to the walls and beautified these concrete canvases. The streets, no matter where you are, tell stories of local lives, beckoning future’s and its expression of the neighbors character.
Situated now on Bowden Street, one of the first things I noticed was the electrical boxes on the corner of each street.
Each box was characterised with loose brushstrokes, open composition, emphasis of light and ordinary subject matter. These impressionistic styled paintings open up the term street art, verifying that no one can define street art to one style.
So when you happen to stumble through the streets of Observatory, keep an eye out for the street art that is in plain sight as well as the pieces that are tucked behind the towns crevices.
The neighbourhood portrays the artistic expression of a multicultural community.