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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Art auction raises thousands for Gerhard Marx vs BMW court case

#46. Head to Fordsburg for an art auction. With news that Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang didn’t jump but was pushed and replaced by Barbara Hogan (see my previous post) and that the health of the country was now in capable hands, it was time to leave the comfort of home. We headed to the Bag Factory also known as the Fordsburg Artists’ Studios last night for an auction of South African art to raise money to support the case of local artist Gerhard Marx vs BMW. Continue reading