The Birds of Paterson Park

by | Jul 27, 2020 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Parks/Nature Reserves | 14 comments

Last week I participated in a behind-the-scenes tour of historic Paterson Park, on the border of Norwood and Orange Grove, to check out the public art projects in progress there. The park is undergoing a huge renovation, expected to finish in the next few months.

Bird mural on the wall of Paterson Park pool
The brand-new, glorious bird mural on the gate to the swimming pool at Paterson Park.
A map showing the location of Paterson Park. Click here to view it on Google Maps.

Paterson Park’s art installations are part of Art My Jozi, an initiative implemented by the Trinity Session and the Johannesburg Development Agency. Art My Jozi also spearheaded the S-bend mural project on Louis Botha Avenue, which I blogged about last year.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Norwood/Orange Grove area — it’s the Joburg neighborhood I find most similar to Melville, where I live — and I’d been eyeing the Paterson Park redevelopment for months. It felt great to get out of the house and visit this city project that is still going full-steam ahead, while so many other fun things are indefinitely stalled.

I explored the park with Laurice Taitz from Johannesburg in Your Pocket and Tariro Moyo, technical project manager and our guide from the Trinity Session.

Tariro Moyo in the Trinity Session headquarters
Tariro inside the Trinity Session headquarters, outside Paterson Park in Orange Grove.

Like all the Art My Jozi projects, the Paterson Park art installations were conceived through community participation and consensus. The works revolve around the themes of birds and trees — appropriate for a park in the centre of a city that is also an urban forest.

Strolling Around Paterson Park

We started our walk on Short Road, on the northern side of Paterson Park, then walked through the park and across Paterson Road to where the community center and swimming pool are being built.

A Joburg city worker enjoys the swing set in Short Road Park. (It was lunch time.)
Walking across a bridge in Paterson Park
Walking across a bridge in Paterson Park (which is currently closed to the public until the upgrades are complete). Unfortunately it’s winter in Joburg, when the grass and leaves are brown and the light is flat, especially at midday. I look forward to going back in summer when everything is green again.
Benches carved from a dead fig tree in Paterson Park
These benches, carved from a massive dead fig tree, are part of the Art My Jozi installations.
Metal tree sculptures made of hands in Paterson Park
Beautiful metal tree sculptures formed from hundreds of hand prints.
Metal tree sculpture made of hands
There are a couple of silver hand prints on the branches (the rest are intentionally rusted). The sun happened to shine just right on one pair.
Bird mural on Paterson Road outside Paterson Park
This interesting sculpture on the fence along both sides of Paterson Road is still in progress. It was inspired by a theatre performance called “Birds of the Grove”.
Swimming pool mural at Paterson Park
I saw this mural, portraying different South African birds and their quirky calls, in a photo on the JDA Facebook page a couple of weeks ago. I was instantly enchanted. It was fun to see it in person.
The swimming pool looks ready to dive into (if it weren’t the middle of winter during a global pandemic).
Geese on the side of the Paterson Park community center.
A flock of geese on the side of the new community center.
Another bird mural on the wall of the Paterson Park community center.
Another bird mural on the wall of the community center. Laurice’s hard hat matched it perfectly.

I’m really looking forward to Paterson Park’s re-opening. For regular updates on its progress, follow Art My Jozi on Facebook.


  1. dizzylexa

    I went on a tour with Trinity sessions when they had just started, need to go back. Love the fence with the characters from the performance “Birds of the Grove” one can almost identify them. Love your photo of the shinning hand.

    • 2summers

      Thanks. Yeah it’s all looking really great.

  2. Peggy Laws

    I spent a lot of time in Paterson Park after my daughter was born in 1972 and we lived in Algernon Road. The Park was at the bottom of our garden and a lot of us young mums met up and swam and had picnics. Fond memories – but I love the new look and can’t wait to see it.

    • 2summers

      That sounds so idyllic!

  3. Margaret Urban

    Thanks so much for this post Heather. After what seems like years of driving past a ‘building site’ it will be a joy to visit – such bright uplifting motifs 🙂

    • 2summers

      I know. That building site has been an eyesore! But it looks like it will be worth it in the end.

  4. eremophila

    Adore the tree sculpture with the hands!

  5. Nancy McDaniel

    Oh my, this is wonderful. The trees with the hand prints are fabulous. And the benches made of the giant fig tree. All ingenious, creative and very welcoming. I WANT TO BE THERE! First The Wilds, now Paterson Park. YAY!

    • 2summers

      I know, it’s all such beautiful art.

  6. Catrina

    My favourite has to be the metal tree sculptures and the photo with the silver handprints. How lucky that the sun shone at the right moment!
    If we ever make it to Johannesburg, we will make sure to visit Paterson Park. Beautiful!

    • 2summers

      I know, the light was actually really terrible but it worked perfectly for that one photo!

  7. caroline reay

    Hilarious. This post caught my eye as a keen birdwatcher living close to Norwood Grove…unfortunately my Grove is thousands of miles away…Norwood South London UK! Love those trees!

    • 2summers

      Hahaha, that’s so cool! I wonder if our Norwood was named after yours? Many of our suburbs are named for London neighborhoods.


Leave a Reply