I’ve spent the last week being a tourist in my own city. In Cape Town it’s really not hard to be a tourist every day with new shops, pop-up stores, events, markets and simple scenic drives just a stone’s throw away. Appreciating the incredible beauty this city has to offer got me hunting for a very special book I bought not too long ago. It’s called Cape Town – an illustrated poem by Julia Grey.
I bought this book after I heard Julia Grey speak at my high school, to be honest, I can’t remember what she said, but I do remember thinking that I had to get her book. The book is a work of art in itself. Grey is a graduate of Michaelis School of Fine Art at UCT in Cape Town. The book started as a holiday project in her second year of studies in 2002. It continued to grow and when she graduated she took the step to publish it. The book is a journey of self-discovery and impressions of a young person living in Cape Town at the time.
It’s a visual journey through all the suburbs and little areas that make Cape Town what it is. All the visuals are created with little cutouts from specific areas, pieces of fabric, hand-drawn sketches, photographs taken by Grey, collage and poetry. Grey has put them all together to create a personal yet very relatable story of Cape Town.
Each two-page spread is a different area of Cape Town. There are the really well-known places like Cape Point, Kalk Bay, Camps Bay and the city bowl. But there are also the lesser known places that you wouldn’t expect to find in a book about Cape Town. Places like Athlone, Langa, Claremont and the Grand Parade. These are not your typical tourist hot spots but they all contribute to the Cape as a whole.
All these areas are accompanied by a short poem or phrase that appear as typewritten lines next to the images. My favourite is the poem on the page of Camps Bay:
“never been classy chicks,
tried in high school with the private school cliques,
clothes, mediocrity looking for a man,
trying to look hot with copious fake tan,
dress up at sixteen.
Mom drops you at blues,
perfectly white linen: uncomfortably high shoes,
hopefully we’ll settle, on a different mentality,
posh places are mostly too much a formality.”
I can’t really sum up Camps Bay better than that. The entire book is like a scrapbook of Cape Town. Anyone who grew up here will immediately feel a sense of nostalgia for their childhood in the Cape.
It’s a coffee table must, or just a bedside table flick through. I can promise you your dreams will be filled with memories and sweetness.
Get the book from the Book Lounge in Roeland St, Cape Town.