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A new Church for Cape Town’s artists
“Unconventional, black-owned art space in tune with our times”
It has all the markings of a church: the building looks as imposing as a place of worship, its primary opening days are Sundays, and there are talks that lift the spirits. But what is worshipped here is creativity and the congregation is made up of Cape Town creatives that discuss the coexistence of art, life and politics.
A standout amongst Church Street’s buildings, Church does not conform to any artistic expectations. Image supplied by Church
CAPE TOWN’S NEW ART HOME
The art gallery’s name, Church, was born from its location. It’s in Church Street, Cape Town’s premier inner-city art precinct. Church’s entirely golden exterior is hard to miss. The interior setup is designed to display multimedia works, and even includes a film room, where they can be made and shown.
Currently looking like a blank canvas, the interior will soon be filled with all forms of art. Image supplied by Church
“The Church is not only a church in name. If you have something to say and need a platform, our Sunday Sessions will provide the space to present new ideas and conversations,” says co-owner Hoosein Mahomed.
CHURCH FOR THE UNORTHODOX
As opposed to its religious connotation, Church is conceptualised as an unorthodox art space that promotes artistic independence within Cape Town’s art scene. The idea for Church was ignited by radical shifts in the world, such as extended periods of isolation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Black Lives Matter movement. This led to Hoosein Mahomed and Shelleen Maharaj opening Church as an alternative space for art.
Church’s owners, Shelleen Maharaj and Hoosein Mohamed opened the space to encourage local artists to own their space. Image supplied by Church.
“Looking at art helps us step back and gain perspective. It allows us to see and understand the world with a heightened sense of self-awareness.The lockdown, its resultant isolation, and this sort of social purgatory caused me to become deeply introspective about how I envisioned the future. I kept going back to the things I loved most, this naturally being the arts,” says Mahomed
BRIDGING THE GAP
The first artist to show her work at Church is Capetonian Thania Petersen, whose art depicts stereotypes about the “so-called Cape Malay population” in Cape Town. Petersen’s installation, Garden of Passion Gaps, is a creation of artificial foliage decorated with mouth moulds that represent missing front teeth (known as a passion gap), and will be displayed on Church’s façade for its opening.
Local artist Thania Petersen’s Garden of Passion Gaps, is set to ignite a conversation about art in the Cape coloured community. Image supplied by Church
“The visual culture about the creole community in Cape Town has not been created by us, and not represented by us and may be represented as something ugly or unhealthy, not acceptable or cool. Maybe I think it is beautiful. I want to change the conversation,” says Petersen.
FOR FURTHER READING
Find unique and interesting galleries to visit in Cape Town.
For a look into contemporary art through the eyes of Cape Town’s artists, visit Zeitz MOCAA.
Here’s a list of things to do this weekend.
If you are curious about the history of the Cape (and South Africa), visit these museums in Cape Town.