Cape Town, Woodstock, November 2012; From farmland in the late 17th century, to more people settling there until it became a fashionable seaside locale in the mid-1800s with cottages next to the sea and a beach which stretched until the Castle of Good Hope, Woodstock is one of the oldest residential and business suburbs in the Western Cape.
Steeped in history, nowhere in the province let alone the country – aside from Jo’burg central – can you find such diversity, particularly from an architectural point of view, as you do in Woodstock, says artist and resident Mark Hilltout. “It’s reminiscent of Soho or Tribeca in lower New York in the 1960s,” he adds.
Calling the three scant lines allocated to the suburb in the 2010 edition of Rough Guide To Cape Town “ridiculous!”, Hilltout initiated a personal project to document the two main roads of Woodstock in an unusual illustrated map.
The detailed drawings of every building, shop, office and residential facia along both sides of these two arteries covering a total of 18 kilometres will not only be a guide to the businesses, design hubs, art galleries, places of worship and restaurants, but the prints of the drawings will be exhibited at The Alex Hamilton Studio Gallery from the end of January, 2013.
For years, Woodstock has been touted as an up and coming trendy precinct. While that has to some extent come to pass, with the increase in new markets, restaurants, boutiques and coffee shops nestling side by side with family-owned shops which have passed down through generations, Hilltout would love to see people coming there from other parts of Cape Town, South Africa – even the rest of the world – to literally walk from one end of Woodstock all the way to Observatory, and experience its charm for themselves.
“There is so much potential that has yet to be recognised, and although it is happening slowly there is a distinct air of optimism,” he says. “Besides being a fascinating melange of old and new, the nature of emerging artistic and craft oriented businesses are significant in light of Cape Town being 2014 World Design Capital.”
The project has been an ambitious one, involving weeks of solid drawing, block by painstaking block, as well as extensive research into the history and architecture of Woodstock. Spanning Sir Lowry Road from the bridge on the outskirts of the city, Victoria and Main roads to Trill Road in Observatory; and Newmarket Street from Baron Street, Albert and Lower Main Road to just past Trill Road, the finished drawings will measure some 20 metres.
The map itself will eventually be presented in a more manageable and practical form, and available from about 20 locations in Woodstock. The interesting thing about the exhibition – besides the obvious pleasure of recognising the landmarks we have known and loved for decades, and discovering new ones, is that any section of the road will be available to purchase, in illustrated form.
“I have many funny stories, and some sad ones. People of all walks of life are quite fascinated and positive toward the project, and many shop keepers have asked me for a drawing of their shop fronts,” says Hilltout.
“A map of the area will be much appreciated by the residents of Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory, as well as people who run businesses here, and visitors from Cape Town, South Africa and further afield.”
Street View: Woodstock – Drawings of Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory by Mark Hilltout
Photos by Gavin Furlonger
Exhibition venue: The Alex Hamilton Studio Gallery, 3rd Floor, 9 Barron Street, Woodstock, telephone 021 447 2396
Exhibition run: Open until Monday, 25 February 2013
Opening times: Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm
The Map is available at the Alex Hamilton gallery
Search the site