Eli in Rhodes Park

#Gauteng52, Week 42: Kensington’s Rhodes Park

Welcome to Week 42 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Rhodes Park in Kensington.

Kensington is one of Joburg’s most interesting neighborhoods and I don’t get over there enough. I have this idea that it’s on the opposite side of the world from Melville, even though it’s less than a 20-minute drive without traffic.

My friend Gail lives in Kensington and she’s always posting pretty photos from her walks in Rhodes Park. So when I heard Gail was organizing an art exhibition at the park called “The Land That Never Forgets”, I made a point of taking myself across town to check it out.

Rhodes Park damLooking out over the lake (or dam, as South Africans call it) in Rhodes Park.

Exactly two years ago there was a terrible crime at Rhodes Park. Since the tragedy Gail and a group of her friends have been holding weekly cleanups and other events to help uplift Rhodes Park, and it seems like they’ve made tremendous progress in making it a safe, welcoming place for the community.

This exhibition — consisting entirely of land art — was planned to honor the victims of the crime.

Gail's Land Art Art made of bread, by Gail Wilson.

A Walk Around Rhodes Park

Rhodes Park isn’t as big as Zoo Lake or Emmarentia and it doesn’t have the sweeping vistas of the Melville Koppies or the Wilds. Nonetheless, it’s lovely. There’s a nice big dam (lake), tons of old trees, birds, and acres of green grass. It’s a great place to sit on a tree stump and look out at the water and meditate/ponder life/have a good cry.

There’s also a lawn bowling (bowls) club and various sports fields and an amphitheatre, although I didn’t explore those places. I just walked around the dam and looked at the art.

Eli in Rhodes ParkI ran into my friends Kim and Emile and their cute little boy, Eli.

Rock art in Rhodes ParkRock art in the shade of an overhanging willow tree.

Ducks at Rhodes ParkGoslings! 

Park bench in Rhodes ParkA park bench decorated as part of the exhibition.

Planting flowers at Rhodes ParkPlanting flowers.

Kids at Rhodes ParkI’m not sure what these kids were looking at but I thought they were cute.

Anni Snyman making land artLand Artist Anni Snyman uses a Typex pen to draw a delicate waterbird on a burned tree stump.

Melanie Botha land artMy favorite piece of land art at the park, by Melanie Botha.

And then there were the weddings. As with many other parks in Joburg (I’ve seen it often in the Rose Garden at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens), wedding parties frequent Rhodes Park on sunny summer Sundays. I think it’s quite common to have your wedding in a church and then go to the park for photos and a picnic.

I saw two big wedding parties while I was there. I didn’t photograph the brides but I did snap some of the bridesmaids and guests.

Wedding party at Rhodes ParkStunningly dressed bridesmaids and flower girl. The fabric comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the wedding party is from.

Guys at weddingI had a good chat with Shaka (middle) and Andric (right). I didn’t catch the other guy’s name.

Portrait of lady at Rhodes ParkHer name is Unisa. (Yes, like the university.)

Thanks so much to Gail and all the other private citizens working to make Rhodes Park (and all the other city parks) better places for the people of Joburg.

Rhodes Park is at the corner of Cumberland and Ocean Streets in Kensington. As with all Joburg parks, it’s best not to visit alone.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

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12 Comments

  • Reply Gail Scott Wilson October 18, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    So glad you came and thank you so much for this. Love the photo of the kids looking at the sign, I think they are checking what they can or can’t do.

    • Reply 2summers October 18, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      I was also wondering if it was a ‘no fishing’ sign 🙂

      • Reply Gail Scott Wilson October 18, 2017 at 1:27 pm

        No this one is all the other stuff they can’t do, like swim in the lake or have a boat on the lake.

  • Reply Margaret Urban October 18, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Thanks for this Heather. It’s the nearest park to the house I had and where my son mostly grew up. For me/us it has so so many wonderful memories (not least the library on the corner with (then) such excellent staff). I was shaken by the events of two years ago but will now make an effort to visit again soon 🙂

    • Reply 2summers October 18, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Oh yes, I read that there is a library there too but forgot to mention it! I need to check that out the next time I go.

  • Reply autumnashbough October 18, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I’m a sucker for water and greenery! It looks lovely.

    • Reply 2summers October 18, 2017 at 10:28 pm

      It is!

  • Reply Eva Melusine Thieme October 19, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Can’t believe you are already on #42 of 52, Heather! Way to sustain it throughout the year, it was a big project to commit to. Awesome that Joburg has so many places to sustain a steady flow of topics. I had never heard of Rhodes park!

    • Reply 2summers October 19, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      I know, I also can’t believe there are only 10 posts left! It actually makes me sad 😂

  • Reply Melanie MacKenzie Botha October 22, 2017 at 12:40 am

    Great blog Heather. Wonderful description of a poignant day in our beautiful Rhodes Park. Such an inspired idea of Gail’s. I hope she does it again. It was wonderful – I have never taken part in any Land Art event, although I love what artists do in this medium. As a part-time potter and painter, this was new to me – it felt like a meditation on all the loved ones I have lost over the last few years as well as the victims of Rhodes Park – very cathartic. Thank you for your lovely comment on my piece, very encouraging. I look forward to reading your blog over the next 10 weeks.

  • Reply Melanie MacKenzie Botha October 22, 2017 at 12:48 am

    PS Beautiful Eli lives a few houses away from us. He visits the park often with his carer, and on their way home she always has to stop at our gate for Eli to say hello to our doggies. He is absolutely adorable. <3

    • Reply 2summers October 22, 2017 at 10:18 am

      He really is! Thanks again for making that beautiful artwork, Melanie.

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