Friday, June 28, 2013

Newtown, Johannesburg Photo Safari

In early May we joined the expat photography club for a very interesting morning exploring a neighborhood of Johannesburg known as Newtown.

Newtown has a very interesting history. In the late 1800's it was made up of brickworks and a railway marshaling yard and was home working class citizens of all races. In 1906, the Johannesburg Town Council (the post-South Africa war administration) decided to "refashion" Johannesburg along modern lines and implemented one of the first forced removals of African and Indian residents, moving them to an area that would later become part of Soweto. The remaining land that was confiscated was redesigned as a commercial and industrial area and given the name Newtown.

In the 1970's Newtown gained a reputation for African theater and today it is an area targeted for tourism development with a focus on outdoor art. The goal is to make Newtown the largest outdoor art museum in the world.

One of the art installations that is helping them get towards their goal is over 560 carved wooden heads that are found throughout Newtown. The heads symbolize the migrants of Newtown from Africa and abroad. They are all very unique and quite lifelike.

One of the predominant types of art in Newtown is graffiti. I'm not talking the type of graffiti where a kid with a spray can paints his name, but really big, really impressive, pieces of urban art.

Under the M1 freeway bridge each pillar is covered in huge and elaborate paintings. These art works change every year when artists from South Africa and around the world attend the urban art festival in Newtown. The following is a selection of works from different pillars under the bridge.

The whole of Newtown is very industrial, gritty and dirty. There were not too many people out and about, but the photo safari was really interesting, I've never really paid attention to urban art before, and this is quite a place to start!

And of course I have to include a picture of Piper, my little mini Urban Art Photo Safari buddy! She did a great job staying warm inside the Ergo and Daddy's coat.

1 comment:

Marie said...

Wow these are so awesome. That is some pretty impressive artwork.