Hotel Grande, Beira, Mozambique. A photo exhibition by Mark Lewis

Image 01 The Grande #28A6C9

Hotel Grande, Beira. © Mark Lewis 2013

You have just 10 more days to see this exhibition at Gallery MOMO. It’s definitely worth making time for … Beira’s Grande Hotel sits like a beached battleship, its mottled and worn concrete façade revealing the building’s age and its abandonment by its former owners. With his photographs Mark Lewis tells many stories – of grand ambition to design a space for holidaymakers of colonial-era Mozambique, and of a local community that has survived war and conflict to occupy the shell of some property developer’s dreams. The images, now being exhibited at Johannesburg’s Gallery MOMO, whisper of the building’s life as it once was, and as it might have been while they portray the daily existence of more than 3000 people who call the Grande Hotel a home. Continue reading

Saved from a pulp affliction – ‘book artist’ Keri Muller

Africa Reinvented

Africa Reinvented

It’s a map of Africa but not as you would usually know it. From a distance it resembles the texture of oyster mushrooms, their delicate fluted forms cast into whorls of soft colour. Up close you can make out the words that have combined to create the map, and the pages of books that have been delicately folded and glued together to create it.

This artwork “Africa Reinvented” has earned Keri Muller her title as the “book artist” or as Google’s search terms locate her, “Cape Town’s origami expert”. Continue reading

Exhibition of Black Music in Newtown

This one is not to be missed. I spotted the poster about two weeks ago in the city, and it made me curious. The International Exhibition of Black Music is on at Museum Africa – part of the France South Africa Seasons 2012/13 that has brought myriad diverse cultural events to the city over the past few weeks, including Molière’s “L’Avare” (The Miser) at the Market Theatre, Reacting to Chemistry exhibition at Sci-Bono, and French Connections – an exhibition of French works in the Johannesburg Art Gallery collection.

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Public Art in Joburg – the West Side Story Part 1

Taking a walk in Joburg’s inner-city city may just surprise you for all the right reasons… [The brilliant photos are by Wesley Poon]

Ask anyone who lives here to describe the city of Joburg and they rarely extol its beauty. Mostly they point out it’s a city without a sea and until the Nelson Mandela Bridge it was a city without any remarkable landmarks that aren’t communication towers or apartment blocks. And those are the polite remarks.

Over the past five years, it’s a little known fact that the city has installed an impressive and growing number of public artworks – at last count at more than 50 sites. In 2006 a strategy was put in place to use public art as a way of fulfilling a range of Joburg’s developing needs. It called for a public art levy, a common global practice, that would devote up to one percent of the construction budget on major city building projects to this end. This was implemented by the Johannesburg Development Agency at a time when the city has been undergoing something of a boom, and it will continue.

The unofficial public art in the city - District 9

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It’s the Joburg Art Fair. Head for Sandton

It’s the Art Fair. It’s the Art Fair. I don’t usually blog pre- an event, preferring to experience it for myself before I tell anyone it’s worth doing. But the FNB Joburg Art Fair is a sure thing. Opening night (by invitation only) happens tomorrow and then from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon there’s art and more art, framed and named, performances, appearances, talks of all sorts and lots of of other things in between.

Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse, Blue Ponte / Red Ponte I – IX, 2011

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Joburg’s little Ethiopia Part II

Hanging out on Jeppe Street

The signs are plastered all over this part of the city. They have the look of the Roneo machine – hand-operated printing with its faded purple and blue inks that reminds me of geometry tests. Except these have no questions, just statements. “Penis enlargement”,  “Lost lover back in 3 days”.  Around us  Joburg’s Saturday morning traffic – human and vehicular – jostles with hawker stands selling cellphone chargers, fake branded soccer merchandise and plates of potatoes. A large church group, all dressed in pristine white robes with deep blue sashes gather on the corner for a meeting. They fit in. Most thing do here. I realised that when driving through Joubert Park taxi rank one Saturday morning, trapped in gridlock, watching a man wheel a shopping trolley past my window with a bull’s head in it, it’s eye seemingly fixed on me, it’s tongue hanging out the side of it’s mouth, looking more at home than me.

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Author Justin Cartwright at the Troyeville Hotel

Justin Cartwright, TimesLive

Justin Cartwright, TimesLive

To the Troyeville Hotel book club on a rainy and then crisp Autumn night. And set against the twinkling lights of Ponte and the Hillbrow Tower through the window darkly, Justin Cartwright was being interviewed by Murray Michell, the head of South Africa’s Financial Intelligence Centre. The “banker” and the author had been brought together for an event billed as “The banking crisis comes to Troyeville” in a move intended to cajole those who think that fiction may not be serious enough stuff to leave home in the northern suburbs for. To be truthful the crowd at Troyeville are more attuned to hearing about civil wars, death cults and bloodthirsty Liberian warlords, dark subjects that unsettle, non-fiction that makes claims to be truthful, Continue reading

Winnie Mandela and Pretoria’s other opera secret

Pretoria. Just 35 minutes away, and yet the capital might as well be on a different planet for the number of times I venture there. A few weekends ago it was for an audience with South Africa’s struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and some fine Italian food. Continue reading

Bahrain’s F1 line-up and Libya’s fashion icon

Among reports of the northern territories melting down and concerns over the start of the Formula 1 season (Bahrain has bigger problems) and Muammar Gadaffi, the man of many names not to mention many fashion statements, sharing headline space with Charlie Sheen for the “who is the craziest award” this is too good not to share.
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World Cup 2010 – Joburg wins

#207 Enjoy this moment – In true Jozi style flags fly proudly off electric fences, the sound of vuvuzelas (singly, that of a wounded bull elephant, in large groups – more like angry hornets) rings out wherever you are – from Melrose Arch to Braamfontein, Sandton to the Soweto no matter what time of day. Fashion trends hold no sway as most people are intent on showing their team colours. I have succumbed. This city is yellow and green, in love with this time, this place, and this nation. Continue reading