In April 2016 I published a blog post about the Wilds, a park near downtown Joburg. That post felt kind of controversial at the time because most Joburgers considered the Wilds to be a horribly dangerous place where no rational person would ever go.
I visited the Wilds back then with my artist friend James Delaney, who lives next to the park and had recently started venturing in with his dog, Pablo. James discovered that despite its reputation, the Wilds really wasn’t dangerous after all. Not only was the Wilds not dangerous, James discovered, it was also one of the loveliest places in Johannesburg.
Fast forward a year-and-a-half. James has made it his personal mission to transform the Wilds into a well used public space and he is succeeding. Over the last couple of years James has organized crews of volunteers to pull weeds, clear underbrush, and paint park benches. He hung bird feeders on the periphery of the park to attract attention, encouraged his friends to visit, and convinced the security guards in his apartment building to use the Wilds as a short cut to work, creating more foot traffic through the park.
James also created this incredible collection of 67 aluminum owl sculptures that hang in a grove of yellowwood trees in the middle of the Wilds. These owls are so freaking beautiful, I can hardly stand it.
Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much of this story because I recently wrote a longer article about the Wilds for a cool new Joburg publication called TheDifferent.tv. You can learn more about the Wilds and see more of my recent photos in that article.
The purpose of this post is to let you know about an event happening at the Wilds this weekend. At the request of the City of Joburg, James is organizing a “Reclaim the Wilds” day on Sunday (26 November) from 8:00 a.m. to noon. The main point of the event is to show up and enjoy the park, but there is also some volunteer work to be done for those interested. All the necessary information about the event is in this Facebook post.
So get out there and reclaim the Wilds on Sunday, or any day for that matter. Don’t miss the owls.
The entrance to the park is on Houghton Drive in Parktown, just north of Carse O’Gowrie Road and the Rodean School. (See map.)