Artist Hannelie Coetzee makes her mark on Maboneng

I love meeting people who are shaping the city and I had been curious to meet Hannelie Coetzee for some time, having seen her “Hover” and “Ouma Miemie and Aunt Vya” on city walks…

Hannelie Coetzee’s work spills out of her studio and into the surrounding streets. The artist moved into Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct, on the city’s east side, two years ago and the streets are now her canvas.

Ouma Miemie and Aunt Vya by Hannelie Coetzee, walking on Commissioner Street

Ouma Miemie and Aunt Vya by Hannelie Coetzee, walking on Commissioner Street

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Joburg’s Kalahari book store for much-loved titles

The interior of Orange Grove's Kalahari Books

The interior of Orange Grove’s Kalahari Books

What starts off in fairly regular interview mode – me seated in a comfortable armchair facing Richard Welch, my notebook at the ready, soon shifts shape. It’s as if the four walls beneath the double-volume ceiling of Kalahari Books contain within them some mysterious force that makes a joke of time and exerts competing gravitational pull. Surrounded by thousands (around 70 000 in all, Welch estimates) of books spanning more than a century we flit from shelf to shelf like magpies. We move from titles by JG Ballard to George Bernard Shaw picking the books out, then discarding them for the next attraction. There is poetry and playwriting, Greek epics and tomes on trains, collectables and curiosities and fiction, heaps and heaps of fiction. Continue reading

Nelson Mandela stands tall in Johannesburg

Marco Cianfanelli's Shadow Boxing sculpture of Nelson Mandela (2013)

Marco Cianfanelli’s Shadow Boxing sculpture of Nelson Mandela (2013)

In a week in which the country and the world has held its breath while Nelson Mandela fights a lung infection in a Pretoria hospital, he stands tall and powerful on an inner city block. Nelson Mandela as a public figure is returned to Johannesburg, and specifically to the places he inhabited in the 1950s. Marco Cianfanelli’s newly unveiled sculpture of Mandela, “Shadowing Boxing” towers above Fox Street, Ferreirasdorp. Placed between Chancellor House and the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court this must have been a path that a young Mandela walked many times. Continue reading

Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra outside the Rand Club

This was really an unforgettable performance. As part of the #JoburgCity media weekend the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra popped up outside the Rand Club and then in front of the Gold Mine Cafe at The Reef Hotel (Anderson Street, Marshalltown). Love this video posted by @Darlinglama

If you missed it you can read more about the weekend at Joburg gets an inner city festival

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

Joburg gets an inner-city festival

Impressions of Joburg - The Mapungubwe Hotel Courtyard, Grafitti at Fashion Kapitol and view from The Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein

Impressions of Joburg – The Mapungubwe Hotel Courtyard, Grafitti at Fashion Kapitol and view from The Parktonian Hotel in Braamfontein

To launch Joburg’s inner-city festival coming up in August, the Joburg City Tourism Association threw a three-day party for 60 journalists. I was lucky enough to be on that list and to spend the weekend hanging out at some of the coolest places…. Friday night in Joburg city centre and what could have been a regular few blocks walk between Market and Loveday Streets on a chill Autumn night turned into something extraordinary. On the pavement outside the impressive Edwardian-style entrance to the Rand Club, the city’s grandest landmark, thirty four members of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra were arrayed, flash-mob style – playing classical and popular pieces. Continue reading

Ryan Arenson’s baby yellow lives here – a story about an iPad, an app and 200 drawings

Ryan Arenson in baby yellow's apartment

Ryan Arenson in baby yellow’s apartment

Artist Ryan Arenson dreams in one colour – baby yellow, but produces work in many. For the past two years he has been immersed in creating a six-year-old boy called Baby Yellow, an alter ego conceived on an iPad who since has taken on an unexpectedly rich digital life, drawing, writing books, playing in a band, creating music and enacting all manner of fantasies while he blurs the line between childhood exploration and adult subject matter. Baby Yellow lives in Arenson’s Johannesburg apartment. He inhabits the space as if he owns it… Continue reading

SA Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2013 opening night

It wouldn’t have been SA Fashion Week (April 11-15) without a nipple or two peeking through sheer fabric, girls on stilts, boys channeling Filipino superstar fashion blogger Bryan Boy with a clutch bag in one outstretched arm and lots of jostling for tickets and attention…

Black Coffee's Congolese Kuba-cloth-inspired collection

Black Coffee’s Congolese Kuba-cloth-inspired collection

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Suburban walking in Joburg

It takes a foreign sensibility to see Joburg’s suburban streets with new eyes. And I highly recommend it. On Friday morning we joined artists Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley for a walk through Parkwood. Not your average walk, as we were encased in a cardboard Volkswagen Citi Golf. The two Stuttgart-based artists have been working as “artists-in-residence” at the Goethe-Institut for the past six weeks.  They arrived in Joburg intending to look at the theme of security.


Cardboard Car Walk (140)-1

From beaded guard dogs to the fake ivy that doubles up as vicious spikes on suburb walls, they spent their time taking in the many ways and aesthetics in which people in this city protect their homes from outside invasion. Whether the threat is real or imagined…

Finding a parking space in Parkwood

Finding a parking space in Parkwood

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City Sightseeing bus launches in Joburg

So there I was travelling the highways and byways of the city in a big red open-top double decker bus, making good on Alain de Boton’s declaration that “The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” I felt like a tourist, even without the uniform of sandals-and-socks and a giant Nikon camera, or its modern incarnation that involves pointing an iPad at some unfortunate local.

City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus launches in Johannesburg

City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus launches in Johannesburg

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