People keep telling me that the arts world Cape Town is small. Small, I think they mean, in the Irish not-so-much-six-degrees-as-two-and-a-half of separation. Everyone knows everyone else. That may be true, but I’m finding it big in its energy and enthusiasm. And the combination of intimacy and big ideas makes a very special cultural landscape.
Last week I went to an event called 1000 Drawings. I loved this event. I wanted to marry it. I want to have its children. I … will stop now.
Here’s the idea: people all over Cape Town, all age groups, all drawing abilities were invited to submit a drawing, no bigger than A5 size. There were drawing events in different venues and drop boxes round the city. On the 5th November, 1000 Drawings opened for one night only – all proceeds to charity.
You paid 10R to get in (I don’t think anyone was expecting this queue, by the way).
For another 100R you got an envelope and two stickers, each with the same number. The drawings (not just 1000 – in the end they received well over 3000) were hung from washing lines and strung through the old industrial building.
From 7, people were allowed to reserve a drawing with a sticker and from 9 they could take them away.
They had live music, djs, several bars and lots of food.
You could get a t-shirt made on the spot and there was a series of doodling duels. There was colouring by numbers.
It was such a good event – so clever, so fun, with great atmosphere. I liked the egalitarian spirit of the display – work by children hung beside illustrations by professional artists; some people wrote rather than drew. There were funny drawings and simple ones, bright and subdued.
Here’s the one I eventually chose (the buffalo you can see just to the left of the balding guy's head. The buffalo has wings. It's buffalo wings you see):
And here’s what I’m wondering a week later. Would this event have worked in London? Would so many people have participated? Would so many people have come to the event? Does Cape Town’s smallness become an advantage in this kind of situation?
In lieu of a more formal commitment, by the way, I’m getting a t-shirt so I can wear 1000 Drawings over my heart.