Cape Town

Cape Town has always been the most photogenic and dramatic of South African cities. A photograph is worth a thousand words and old photographs have a special historical and visual appeal. Van Graan in this book pays homage to past photographers of Cape Town while also showcasing his own work and that of Philip Massie. The contemporary aerial photographs are by The Aerial Perspective.

I first encountered the work of Nic Coetzer when searching for information about the South African presence at the series of Empire exhibitions held in Britain before the Second World War. I was intrigued by his analysis as to why the South African pavilion, for example at the Wembley Empire Exhibition of 1924/25 and again the Glasgow exhibition of 1938 at Bellahouston Park, should have been designed in Cape Dutch architectural style.

Nita Spilhaus by Peter Elliott, published by Peter Eliott, edited by Glenda Younge, Illustrated, 194 pages. Cape Impressionist painters were a small group of Cape artists who lived and worked in the Cape and were prolific and productive in the early twentieth century. In their outdoor scenic paintings they sought to capture the special light and colours of the magical Cape landscape. The portraits are even more interesting.

The Early Architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 – 1926) with postcard illustrations is a sizeable title for a small book (the main body of text is only 120 pages). It has been written and self published by Michael Walker (2012). The format is one of tracking down a number of important architects of Cape Town through their buildings as shown in souvenir vintage postcards. The principal focus of the book is on approximately 50 architects active in Cape town in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

It is often forgotten that Universities are custodians and repositories of many fine collections and treasures.  In most disciplines there has been someone with a collecting bent or driven by a particular research project and this has motivated the desire to gather, study, analyse, explain and preserve all sorts of objects from indigenous musical instruments to botanical specimens.

Lionel Crook: Island at War. Robben Island 1939 - 1945  edited and published by the Naval Heritage Trust, Simons Town 2013, paperback, illustrated, 344 pages. Robben Island is a place of scenic beauty rich memory and a fascinating history. This "island of seals" is now a world heritage site and museum because it was an island prison during the decades of the 60s, 70s and 80s. For many years black South African liberation fighters and resisters against apartheid were incarcerated.

In 1906 there were 160 licensed drinking places in Cape Town including hotels, taverns, inns and bottle stores. The link between hotels, a license and a bed for the night was much deplored by the temperance movement who argued that "billiards and brandy, the two curses of Cape Town prevail". This book tells the story of the hotels established or upgraded in Cape Town over the two decades and beyond. It was the hey day of hotels that appealed because of their excellent beer, a soft bed and reasonable food.

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