For the arts

Wits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

Saturday was the much anticipated public opening of the Wits Art Museum in Braamfontein – well at least much anticipated by me. After a delicious breakfast, Sazi and I headed there to have a look for ourselves (and went back later in the day with Mandy, Elizabeth and a bunch of other people). I have to say upfront that while I studied art at school, and art history in University, I am no fan of lengthy discussions about the meaning of a certain artwork. In fact, from having heard many such conversations, it is utterly impossible to discuss art in a gallery without sounding like a total douchebag (Go to the Tate Modern in London and listen to people if you don’t believe me).

But I love hanging around in galleries, being in the presence of art and creativity – and the fewer people, the better. Unfortunately – as could have been expected – WAM was pretty busy. It is a really beautiful space – a combination of big airy rooms and small and strange nooks and crannies. The one thing that struck me as odd for such a modern set-up was that next to the artworks they have these laminated sheets of A4 paper in a holder, which you have to put back after reading. I much prefer this to the audio recordings in most large galleries, but it did strike me as odd.

I definitely recommend a visit, especially if you can steal an hour or two during the week, when I am sure it will be quieter. For more details visit the website.

This is the city for making friends

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I always go on and on that the one thing that really sets Johannesburg apart from other South African cities (and from what I hear global too) is how easy it is to make friends here.

One of the things you quickly learn when you leave University is that making new friends – especially of the same sex as you – is not easy. Men have sport which creates the perfect bonding opportunity – women don’t really have an equivalent. I sometimes joke that you have to go on friend-dates, just like you would with a girl or guy you like.

But living in Johannesburg I have made more friends than ever before in my life – warm, genuine, open, intelligent and interesting people. This week I was invited to two dinner parties – where most of the other guests I either didn’t know or have known less than 6 months…you would imagine there might be a bit of stiffness and lots of dull conversation about “what you do” – as there often is at these kinds of things. Instead there was laughter and the joy of feeling like you belong in this world, that there are plenty of other people who see the world as you do.

Thank you Jozi for making me feel like I have a home for my soul.

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I have been home alone all day with three dogs and a parrot and I’m drinking red wine and thinking about Joburg so I thought I would share some of my random snaps from the past month that haven’t made it into specific blog posts. I guess you could argue this about many cities but you really can’t appreciate Joburg unless you are on foot and you venture off the main roads. The amount of detail you can expose yourself too is unbelievable…but you have to get close enough.

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Before I die I want to…

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This afternoon we were at Arts on Main and spotted this very cool public artwork, entitled “Before I die I want to…” There were pieces of chalk under it encouraging people to complete the sentence. All the bottom ones were taken so our friends Benjamin had to lift us up and I screamed like a baby and laughed hysterically because of my fear of heights. Some of the things people wrote were pretty silly – like “drive an X6” – but I guess who am I to judge.

Who runs this town?

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Today was the opening of the City of Gold graffiti festival in Johannesburg. I attended one of the city tours about graffiti designed for the festival by Past Experiences and then went to the gallery opening in Smit Street, Braamfontein. Do yourself a favour and book a tour or attended some of the other City of Gold events. The city was really rocking this afternoon, makes me love it so much more.

When the moon hits your eyes

Nizamiye Mosque, Midrand JohannesburgNizamiye Mosque, Midrand JohannesburgNizamiye Mosque, Midrand JohannesburgNizamiye Mosque, Midrand Johannesburg20120407-211545.jpg20120407-211614.jpg20120407-211703.jpg
Last night, on my way to get ice I spotted the full moon and decided to race to the Midrand mosque to see if I could get the photo I have wanted for months – the mosque with the moon behind it (similar to the sunrise photos). By the time I got there though the moon was very high and just a small and very bright ball….so I decided to go back tonight. Except that tonight the moon rose much later (who knew that happened right?) and by that time the sky was black. I’m still pretty happy with the photos, especially the ones with the cars going past and the electricity pile-ons with the setting sun, but I will be back next full moon to try again.

The coolest hair salon in town

Motions Hair Salon and Academy - JohannesburgMotions Hair Salon and Academy - JohannesburgMotions Hair Salon and Academy - JohannesburgMotions Hair Salon and Academy - Johannesburg
The highlight of the public art walking tour with Past Experiences this weekend was definitely Motions Salon in the Johannesburg CBD. This hair salon and academy is located in one of the old buildings in town – but they have all this amazing graffiti inside – which creates this striking juxtaposition of old and new. The salon was kind enough to allow all 40 of us inside but it was a nightmare for taking photos.

Motions is a specialist range of hair care products for African women. The training academy was launched by Unilever last year and courses began in January this year. The press release states that they hope to train around 5000 stylists each year.

Where the forgotten rest

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Today I visited the old cemetery in Johannesburg, just across the road from Wits.I have driven past dozens of time, always fascinated, but never brave enough to go on my own. As I type this I have just realized it is the first cemetery I have ever been in in South Africa. In Poland we used to go often, especially on all Saints Day, when the cemeteries are all lit up by candles. I didn’t realise this cemetery was so old – there are graves here from the very first European Joburg settlers. It is a really beautiful place – there were no other people walking around, and the cars on the freeway sounded miles away. It may sounds strange but I really love walking around and reading the information on the graves – trying to piece together the lives of the people who lie there. It was sad realizing that the cemetery is so empty because most of these people have no relatives who would be bothered to come and visit.

A city full of those who dream big

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I was explaining to Elizabeth – the girl in the second photo – why I love the people who live in Johannesburg – because they dream big, they’re ambitious, they exude energy, they’re edgy and stylish because they know who they are.

These photos were taken at the Neighbourgoods market in Braamfontein, a great new bar in called Great Dane, also in Braamfontein, and in Newtown (specifically that cool little kid standing all on his own)

Great Dane is located on 5 De Beer Street, next door to Kitchener’s and opposite the neighbourgoods market. For more information it is best to become a fan of their’s on Facebook – that way you can get details about the password.