Ex-patriate Roslyn Sulcas returns home to South Africa to see the gentrification in one of Cape Town’s previously dangerous neighborhoods. Sulcas should know, her mother was the mayor:
In 2007, two of South Africa’s biggest art-world names, the Goodman Gallery and the Michael Stevenson Gallery, moved their premises to cavernous renovated industrial buildings adjacent to one another. Sensing space and edginess, several others galleries migrated too, and in their wake have come design studios, furniture and clothes shops.
And since artists and those who sell and buy their work must perforce eat, cafes and restaurants have followed.
The migration of art galleries to dubious neighborhoods and their consequent transformation is of course a time-honored urban path to gentrification. And Woodstock, which was one of the few Cape Town communities that largely escaped the draconian Group Areas Act that separated racial groups during the apartheid era, has retained a vitality and multiethnic character that made it ripe for such a change.
“There is a mix of cultures that is very exciting,” said Karen Dudley, who lived in the area for 10 years before opening a casual lunch spot, the Kitchen, opposite the Goodman and Stevenson galleries in 2009. “It has a great history, and a very hairy history. People used to come here for drugs, and they still do, but we also have these amazing buildings and people who have lived here for decades.”
In Cape Town, Art and Artisans Flourish After Apartheid (New York Times)