I’ve visited Lilian Road Studios, a collection of artists’ studios in a historic, dilapidated building in Fordsburg, many times. Several great Joburg artists have had studios at Lilian Road, including Hannelie Coetzee and Hermann Niebuhr. Now there is a group of artists working there, several of whom are my friends, and I can’t believe I’ve never blogged about it before. There are so many things I love about these studios.
Things I Love About Lilian Road Studios
First: Lilian Road is in Fordsburg, one of Joburg’s most interesting neighborhoods — home to the Oriental Plaza and Syrian Rose, among countless other gems. The iconic Lilian Road building was built in 1913.
Second: The studios feel like a secret and I love feeling like I’m in on a secret. There is a Pakistani restaurant on the ground floor of the Lilian Road building. On most days, when the main studio door is locked, you have to walk through the restaurant and its kitchen to get to the staircase up to the studios.
Third, the building is always surrounded by pigeons. Pigeons are like hadedas: Most people in Joburg either love them or hate them, and I happen to love them. Many Muslims consider caring for their neighborhood’s pigeons to be a moral responsibility, hence the pigeons on this block are happy and well fed. There is always a flock of them roosting on the Lilian Road roof.
Fourth: The Lilian Road studios are full of quirky artists, many of whom I am very fond of, and their art. I visited a few days ago to take pictures of them before the big Open Studio event they’re hosting on December 10th and 11th.
Here are the Lilian Road artists I met this week:
I highly recommend checking out the Lilian Road Open Studio to meet these artists (and several others who I didn’t manage to catch when I was there) and see their work. I went to the previous Open Studio in June and it was fantastic, with tons of beautiful art for sale at a range of affordable price points. The Open Studio is also a great excuse to visit Fordsburg and have lunch at Syrian Rose, the Oriental Plaza, or one of countless other delicious (and cheap) South Asian and Middle Eastern restaurants in the area.
Keep an eye on the artists’ Instagram feeds (all linked in the captions above) and @LilianRoadStudios for updates about the Open Studio.
Had no idea there were so many print makers. But maybe there are print makers here I just don’t know about.
I know, and there are so many KINDS of fine art printing! I never knew anything about it either until Fiver became a print-maker.
We are legion. Come join us!
Love that building, love those studios and artists, love those pigeons, love that area and can’t wait for the open studios.
Yay! Sadly I will miss this one – I’ll be in the US 😭
These dilapidated buildings in Fordsburg, including the ones in your article, as well as the area in general date back to the earliest days of Johannesburg’s history and a lot of very interesting events occurred in the area. These include events relating to the Anglo-Boer War, the 1922 mining strike and the dynamite explosion in 1897 which killed hundreds. Some of the earliest businesses and hotels still stand there, although their names have been changed and there has been some minor restoration carried out. Some of them date back to the late 1800s. The Orient Hotel was originally called the Sacks Hotel as was built in the late 1890s.
Yes, I know! I’ve also read the Johannesburg 1912 article – it’s super interesting.
Love the discarded mattress on the iron roof! Sums up Joburg so well.