Stamp it with a work of art

#129. Write a letter. Or a few letters just so I can get a chance to share some of the artworks from the Constitutional Court’s incredible collection – assembled by Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs.

Artwork in the Constitutional Court stamp sheet

Artwork in the Constitutional Court stamp sheet

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Inner-city revival

#118. Celebrate what’s good about this city. And there’s lots. On Thursday night I was at Constitution Hill’s Round House  toasting Joburg’s inner-city developments. The Halala Awards were started by the Johannesburg Development Agency last year to reward the brave who have ventured where most people fear to tread – town. Not only have they ventured, they have also put money into developing oases of calm in a city, that as Ruby Matang, a Johannesburg city councillor put it, “oscillates between decline and vibrancy”. Continue reading

Joburg's sculpture garden

#117. Go gardening with William Kentridge. With the temperature having plummeted to 7 degrees and the sun having packed its bags  for the Northern Hemisphere, hibernation has become the course of action du jour. Continue reading

Joburg on show

#97. Watch the performance. I was at the opening of the Joburg Art Fair last night along with a few hundred other people, all dressed up, mingling, eating teeny weensy snacks and looking at some spectacular pieces from SA’s top galleries and other sellers of contemporary African art. The Fair is worth a visit for many reasons — chief among them Penny Siopis’s haunting works made with glue, the gigantic graphite and wood pencil for R5600 (if I had the cash I would buy two plus the sharpener), Jane Alexander’s Security installation (even more affecting up close as the audience appears to be caged in every direction), Lyndi Sales’ delicate paper cut-outs depicting the world’s flight paths, and Mary Sibande’s “They don’t make them like they used to”, a witty and ironic take on the “maid becoming the madam” and the hands of a domestic worker bringing  Superman into being.

Mary Sibande

The representations so diverse, engaging and smart. I also loved Carl Becker’s Pierneef-like landscape with motocross rider and the brilliant collaborative work of William Kentridge, Deborah Bell and Robert Hodgins displayed by the Goodman Gallery. Add to that Araminta de Clermont’s Matric Queens photographs and of course the urban hip images of Nontsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko and the Avant Car Guard’s Poor Man’s Picasso (below). Plus the astounding collection of contemporary South African furniture and other design objects — that alone is worth the visit.

There were a few speeches but all I could hear from where I was standing was Barbara Creecy, the MEC for Arts, Culture Sport and other weirdly associated things in the province Continue reading

The elusive metropolis that is Joburg

#85. Look for the city. I spent Tuesday night listening to William Kentridge and Nadine Gordimer talk about the “elusive metropolis” that is Johannesburg. SA’s best known contemporary artist and our Nobel-prizewinning author, both denizens of this city, appeared at Wiser (the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) to launch a collection of essays, research and thoughts on Johannesburg, co-edited by Sarah Nuttall and Achille Mbembe.

That this city seems to constantly slip out of one’s grasp was a persistent theme. It’s something I thought about on Saturday afternoon at the Zoo Lake as I watched a crowd of picnickers turn violent Continue reading

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