This young artist gives us her insider’s style guide to Cape Town

Tony Gum is a true millennial talent. Only 20 years old and still at university, the Cape Town native has already put her artistic skills to being a model, stylist, illustrator and photographer. There’s the blog , her South Africa Salad Tumblr , a moreish Instagram feed  with over 12,000 followers and The Local Collective  vlog where she showcases her home city with friend and fellow polymath Philia .

All of these digital delights have not gone unnoticed. has hailed Gum “an international cool girl” while Artsy named her among its top 10 young artists to know at this year’s FNB Joburg art fair, where she showed her beguiling self-portraits with the Christopher Moller Gallery. Drawing on “a Wes Anderson palette” while using props, costumes and poses reminiscent of classic African studio photography, her imagery is a celebration of her culture and her generation. “I’m proud of my race and know that there is beauty to all that we have here,” Gum says. “It’s important to portray to the world what South Africa is about.”


Gum has garnered most attention for her Black Coca Cola series, in which she “fills in the missing void of black representation in Coca Cola ads.” But she readily admits that the on-going project came about almost by accident. “I came across a crate of Coke on a gloomy, overcast day and thought, I need to shoot with this. I tend to execute and then learn from sharing my work and getting feedback from other people.” She hopes that this instinctive approach inspires her peers. “I want to appeal to the youth. I had nothing when I started out – no camera, no Photoshop – but I made it work. Today the iPhone is your platform and you can work with the means that you have to create. Once you start you can train your eye. If you’re not privileged, you come from a different point of view. Don’t limit yourself or let things limit you.”

“Today the iPhone is your platform and you can work with the means that you have to create... Don’t limit yourself or let things limit you.”

Born in the township of KwaLanga to a Xhosa family, she moved to the leafy suburb of Pinelands aged 8. “My childhood was lively, we stayed up late playing on the streets. To me it was bliss. But in Pinelands no one went outside. So the internet became my playground. I discovered Lookbook and used to dream that I lived that kind of fashion lifestyle.” She started putting her own looks on Facebook, from there built the blog and met Philia in 2013. “The Local Collective promotes Cape Town from an insider’s perspective. People don’t realise that Cape Town is very cool. It’s laid-back and everything is within reach. So we try to make it fresh and appealing,” says Philia.

Here’s Tony and Philia’s Cape Town shortlist:

“Young local designers are offering good quality, clean, minimal style and bringing something new. Adriaan Kuiters creates edgy unisex clothing. Pichulik accessories are a new twist on African aesthetics. Guidemore Chigama makes jewellery from recycled materials. Chapel has awesome leather backpacks. And Maxhosa by Laduma gives knitwear a cultural aspect. A lot of these designers have stores within The Watershed on the V&W waterfront.”

“On First Thursdays, all the galleries open late and the creative people are out and about. The AVA Gallery on Church Street has showcased a lot of our friends’ work and is a lovely place to attend talks.”

Food & Drink
“During the week we love the ambience of Yours Truly café on Kloof Street – it’s a social gathering. On Friday nights the Waiting Room on Long Street is pumping. And on Saturdays we head to Neighbourgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. The traders there serve up good hearty food.”

“We’re listening to hip hop producer Desert Head, electronic duo Christian Tiger School, street collective BoyznBucks and township tech pioneer Spoek Mathambo. You’ve got to represent!”

Words Helen Jennings
Visit Tony Gum



Published on 17/11/2015