WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you’re an artist living in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, say, Cape Town?
If you’re good with your hands, and blessed with amazing creativity, like Cape Town resident Lorraine Loots, you might decide to immortalise the city’s charms in sketches.
And so the meticulous miniaturist drew. Every day. For a year. The time invested resulted in a collection of 365 insanely detailed drawings no bigger than the size of a coin, or thumbnail.
Tiny paintings are Loots’ claim to fame. Tap on the Instagram account @lorraineloots, you’ll see a feed of over 2,000 artworks, running the gamut from Star Wars’ C-3PO, Penguin Classics edition of Jane Eyre, to Singapore’s Raffles Hotel and dreamy constellations.
At first, she kept the scale of her drawings small for practical reasons. Juggling her creative project with a day job as a production manager, she came up with the challenge to finish one miniature a day, wrapping each drawing up in under an hour.
She’s never missed a day’s quota since January 1st, 2013, keeping herself on track by uploading an artwork a day onto Instagram. She’s amassed a following of more than 303,000 on Instagram. Her petite paintings are framed, turned into prints, and sold to fans worldwide. She’s also been invited to exhibit in galleries in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney.
In 2014, she dedicated the year’s drawings to her hometown. The passion project was her way of celebrating Cape Town’s designation as World Design Capital 2014, a title bestowed by the World Design Organisation for “effective use of design to drive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development”.
The series of Cape Town drawings were turned into an art book which served as a tourist guide, titled 365 Postcards for Ants.
“Cape Town is so many things crammed into such a small space. A rugged mountain towering over a colourful little city almost completely surrounded by icy oceans, with dense little forests scattered throughout. There’s so much variety encapsulated in the area… from vast natural spaces to vibe-y bars and clubs, restaurants to satisfy any foodie’s wildest cravings and markets to while away the weekends,” says Loots, who lives in a 1890s cottage perfect for her family of three — her husband Mark De Menezes and their two-year-old son, Felix.
Lorraine shares her favourite haunts in Cape Town through words and illustrations.
What’s a Cape Town hotel you would recommend to friends, and why?
Airbnb is a great option in Cape Town, but if you prefer a hotel experience, the historic Mount Nelson is always a classic — it’s centrally located so you can walk to the Company’s Gardens, the Labia Movie Theatre and bustling Kloof street; it has a great poolside vibe and, best of all, it’s pink.
What’s your favourite bar in Cape Town?
The Gin Bar hidden behind Honest Chocolate on Wale street is always a special experience. I love the little courtyard and the limited choice of drinks. I’m not a fan of making decisions. I always go for the Heart Remedy with Inverroche Amber Gin, rosemary & strawberry, orange, clove and Fevertree Tonic.
What’s your favourite restaurant in Cape Town? What’s one must-try dish?
For a hungover breakfast, I’d head to Clarke’s (the back section turns into Hail Pizza at night). I would highly recommend their Bloody Mary and twice-fried fries. Hail recently added some vegan options to their pizza menu that I’m excited to try. Head to Honest Chocolate afterwards for their banana bread “Bunny Chow”, or just a delicious cup of hot chocolate. And if it’s evening, by the time you’re done you can just mosey on through to the secret Gin Bar.
For something a little fancier, you can’t go wrong with Thali. There is no menu, just “Tapas for Two” (See what I mean about making decisions). I always go for the vegetarian option and grab a table in the courtyard if it’s available.
If you’re feeling very indulgent, go to Test Kitchen. It was recently ranked 22 in a list of the 50 best restaurants in the world.
What’s your favourite shopping destination in Cape Town?
Visit the Oranjezicht City Farm Market, for veggies, delicious food, and one-of-a-kind plants. Another good spot is the Biscuit Mill Market, for clothing and jewellery by local designers.
What are the top three things to do in Cape Town?
Do I have to choose three? There’s so much to do in Cape Town.
There’s the Labia movie theatre, an old-school cinema where you eat popcorn out of a brown paper bag. There’s also a bar, you can take your drink inside the theatre. Or you could catch a movie at the Galileo open-air cinema.
Climb Lion’s head, or head to Bakoven beach for an icy swim. Go to the weekend markets. Visit the Adderley Street flower market. Picnic on Boulder’s Beach to see the penguins. Make a stop at Cafe Olympia in Kalk Bay on the way!
Take a hike in one of the forests, there’s Newlands or Cecilia. Go for a wine tasting at Steenberg and then spend the rest of day next to Silvermine dam. Bring a picnic!
Any insider tips for those visiting Cape Town?
Gorgeous George Hotel/Bar is currently in the process of being built. It’ll have one of the first proper rooftop bars in the city and I have it on good authority that it’s going to be great!
What’s a memory you made in Cape Town?
My very first solo show was held in early 2014 at 6 Spin Street, on Church Square. It was a sweltering night, the entire collection was sold out before the show, and the venue was filled with old and new faces supporting me on my journey as an artist. It was a huge highlight for me!