I didn't pay much attention to public art when I lived in America. I didn't pay much attention to art in general, actually. I enjoyed the occasional museum visit but that was about it.
Things changed when I moved to Joburg. Art is everywhere here and I suddenly found it impossible to ignore. The closer I looked, the more I began to see and appreciate art in unlikely places.
Art beneath my feet on Commissioner St. in the Jozi CBD. I'll have more to say about these mosaics, created by artist Andrew Lindsay, in a future post.
A few weeks ago I went on a “public art walkabout” with Joburg artist Hannelie Coetzee. I'm grateful to my new email/Instagram pal Martha Cooper for letting me know about this tour, as I wouldn't have found out about it otherwise. (Thanks, Martha.) And even though it meant venturing out into the city on a cold, rainy Sunday morning, I'm also grateful to have gone on this tour. Hannelie's art is a perfect illustration of Joburg's awesomeness.
Hannelie shows us “Hawk Here”, a commissioned mosaic she created at the corner of Henri and Jorrisen Streets. The mosaic is based on a photo she took in India. (Hannelie is an accomplished photographer as well as an artist.)
Hannelie's art is difficult to classify, especially for someone like me Who doesn't speak art lingo. But I think the best way to describe it is part graffiti, part fine art, part sculpture, part photography. What I liked most about the art Hannelie showed us was that every work seems to be closely linked to its surroundings, as well as who Hannelie is as a person. Her works tell stories about Hannelie's family and cultural heritage and they also tell stories about Jozi.
Our small band of art enthusiasts met up on the corner of Henri and Jorrisen Streets, on the edge of Braamfontein. From there, we caravaned by car around the city, admiring Hannelie's art and trying (more and more unsuccessfully as the day went on) to dodge the raindrops.
The second work Hannelie took us to is “Oumagrootjie” (which means “great-grandmother” in Afrikaans), on the wall of a shop in Fordsburg. The picture, a mosaic made from pieces of granite and marble salvaged from illegal dumps, is based on a wedding photo of Hannelie's great-grandmother. Oumagrootjie and her family moved to in 1908 after the Anglo-Boer War. Thy lived in poverty and survived by eating biscuits made from animal blood they begged from the butcher.
A closer look at Oumagrootjie.
After Oumagrootjie we journeyed deeper into the CBD, to the Rissik Street Post Office.