The Cathcart Arms is one of the oldest hotels in South Africa, established in 1820 when the first colonial settlers arrived in Grahamstown. It has a red and black exterior; a large sign above the entrance proudly declares the name of the hotel. The black woodwork above this sign is unkempt and splintered. Although the doors are said to open at 10am, it was past 11 and I was still waiting outside. I asked two men milling around the entrance if they knew when it might actually open. They said that the Arms didn’t have a regular opening time.
Grey and rusty orange stones are layered on top of one another in an orderly pattern. Situated on Hill Street, the Makana Library is a rectangular and, looking at the exterior, uninviting building. However, once inside you travel to a world where books are treasure and time is endless. The books are faded; orange, blue and red colours blend. The wooden floorboards creak as you walk down the aisles. From magazines to ancient tomes, the Makana Library is ready to provide you with words galore.
Filled with natural light, the library is a great place to sit and read.
White diagonal lines converge; creating a pattern that frames the large, dark wooden door. There is a crest of a proud rooster on the top. Olive green grass contours the outside of an establishment that has served Grahamstown since 1826.
Shaylene Brown is a Fine Art student in her fourth year at Rhodes University, she is mapping WiFi routes on campus and around Grahamstown for her end of year exhibition. The results of these routes make for incredibly beautiful art.
When curator Richard Burmeister invited me in, I felt like I had stepped into a time capsule and landed in Grahamstown in the 19th century. The floor was dark brown and wooden; there was a hint of turpentine in the air and the furniture looked foreign. The small metal, block letters in trays lining the room intrigued me. Burmeister explained how these were used to make the words that were printed in the Eastern Star four-page newspaper. Someone had put the letters into a block individually and upside down, a task considerably more difficult than typing on a keyboard and having words magically appear on the screen in front of you. Burmeister noted that skilled workers, who put the letters into blocks and then printed them, were paid well for their skills. Perhaps this is one of the reasons journalists make less money now then they did when the Eastern Star newspaper produced its first copy on 6 January 1871.
Yellow, red, green and white patches, vividly meshed together in a sea of discarded plastic bags. Chairs stood in a circle as the room gradually filled with women wearing vibrant jumpers and headscarves. A stream of light coursed through the door and Charis Vleugels introduced herself and everyone to the crochet workshop for Trading Live for Mandela Week.
“If nobody read anything, I would still write. It’s like breathing for me. It’s something I have to do to stay alive. I know it sounds funny, but it’s true. It’s the way I engage with the world. It’s a part of me and it took a long time to develop the confidence to ‘I’m a poet’.” – Harry Owen.
They write their songs from their experiences. The best part of the job is waking up late. Their last album ‘Morning After’ was released in 2014.
South African band aKING came to Grahamstown on the 31July to play at Monument. They took some time out to chat with Artbeat, discussing the band, its future and Laudo Liebenberg’s beard, which he is growing for an upcoming acting job.
The band is made up of Hennie Van Halen (bass), Laudo Liebenberg (vocals and rhythm guitar), Andrew Davenport (guitar) and Jaco “Snakehead” Venter (drums).
It is festive and tranquil. The sun shines through the path of the market, colouring the roof gold. Clothes, plants and burgers pave the way to the bar and seating area. The wooden picnic tables under the sun-kissed roof are densely populated and lined with wine bottles, water and cocktails.