Newtown graffiti walk

Solo one

Sunday morning in Newtown. We joined the lovely Jo Buitendach from Past Experiences, the original city walking tour company for a graffiti walk. Jo’s in the process of writing her M.A. thesis focusing on the heritage value of graffiti in Newtown. Hopefully it will end up as a book. She has an anthropological take likening it to early human’s need for self-expression once realised in rock art.

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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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Joburg’s inner city now on the tourist map

The view from Randlords, Braamfontein

“If cities had profiles on a dating website, Joburg would be the one with the really great personality,” says Josef Talotta. “That’s opposed to Cape Town – the gorgeous blonde wearing a bikini”.

Talotta is the head of precinct development for South Point Properties in Braamfontein, one of the city’s thriving neighbourhoods. The company’s portfolio includes Hotel Lamunu, 5000 student accommodation units and Randlords, a spectacular party venue perched atop a 22-storey office block. It was Randlords that the Joburg City Tourism Association, an alliance of hotel owners, property developers and other key people who make the city’s social and cultural heart beat, chose for their recent launch, where plans were announced for creating a united front to market the inner city as a tourist destination.

Democracy was unkind to the inner city. Continue reading

“Space” opens at Museum Africa

# 201 Prove me wrong. I spent the evening at the opening of Space: Currencies in Contemporary African Art – Joburg’s big exhibition for 2010, at Museum Africa in Newtown. An exhibition with many weighty and connected sponsors, an exhibition for a world class African city. I have hesitated while writing this. I have thought of backtracking, of just being quiet. Continue reading

Why coffee is the key to urban renewal

#158. Go for a city walk. With the John Moffat Building at Wits University celebrating 50 years of being, today was declared a “Grand Day of [architectural] Celebrations”. So we joined the small crowd at the University for an urban walking tour taking in 40 of Joburg’s best historic buildings.
The route started at Brickfields, the social housing development that has transformed Newtown, bringing in high-volume residential accommodation that can sustain all the amenities that make city life worth living – coffee shops, a book shop, art galleries and restaurants. From there we crossed to the Market Theatre (once the Indian fruit market but that was in the the 1930s) to stand in Mary Fitzgerald Square and take in the view of Museum Africa on one side and one of the city’s hostel compounds for its mineworkers (now the Worker’s Museum) that was built in the late 1800s. Then this place was a crazy tented camp town that probably (to my mind anyway) looked and felt a lot like Deadwood Continue reading

Africa's sad museum

#115. Wonder what happened to Museum Africa. Having missed the launch last week of l’Afrique: A tribute to Maria Stein Lessing and Leipold Spiegel – pioneering collectors of African art and artefacts who recognised and celebrated the profound influence that these had on 20th Century European artists like Picasso, Gaugin and Matisse – I took a trip to Newtown yesterday. Continue reading