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​Local and international graffiti artists will be painting walls in Braamfontein, Newtown and Maboneng for the second year of this festival of art, inner city tours and film.
EXHIBITIONS, wall murals, film screenings, street art tours and graffiti will soon be on show at the City of Gold Urban Art Festival in Joburg.

urban regenerationInternational and local artists will collaborate to create murals around the cityThe festival brings together both local and international artists for seven days dedicated to a celebration of graffiti and the role it plays in Joburg. A series of events is set for the inner city and Braamfontein.

This is the second City of Gold festival; it is scheduled for 15 to 21 April.

Last year, the Grayscale Gallery initiated Joburg’s first international urban art festival.

“City of Gold 2011 hosted international artists like T-Kid, Smash 137, Ske, and Lazoo. The artists were so well received and the events throughout the festival were incredibly well attended, which laid the foundations for this year's festival,” says Taryn Hackett from Grayscale.

“International cities like Berlin, New York and Sao Paulo are destinations for urban artists from all over the world. The aim of City of Gold is to establish Johannesburg as a destination for those artists and assist the development of the local street art community.”

Urban regeneration
She adds that, “The festival seeks to highlight the positive aspects of urban art forms as well as involving the public to create a heightened awareness and appreciation for it.”

Massive focus will be put on urban regeneration in areas like Braamfontein and the Maboneng Precinct, Hackett says.

This year, six international artists will join nine local artists for festival events. “International and local artists will collaborate on wall murals around the city during the week of the festival,” she says. “These are some of the world's best graffiti artists and it is amazing to have them right here in Johannesburg, painting our city.”

The festival and exhibition kick off on 15 April at Afronova in Braamfontein (corner Smit and De Beer Streets) from 4pm to 9pm. This will allow the public to meet local and international graffiti artists and have a sneak preview of the collaborations that are on offer, Hackett says.

The exhibition will bring together artists from across the globe and will be open to the public for the week of the festival, which will close with a walkabout of Braamfontein, Newtown, Troyeville and the Maboneng precinct on 21 April.

Grayscale teamed up with Past Experiences, a travel and tourism company, for street art tours around the inner city focusing on public art on 15, 17, 18 and 19 April.

Mural project
A mural project will take place from 16 to 19 April, where three large walls around the inner city will be painted by artists who will be split up and mixed into four groups. Specific themes for each wall will be discussed and conceptualised by the different groups and will be completed over three days.

Graffiti artists Festival aims to inspire young graffiti artists Mural sites include the corner of Wolmarans and Melle Street in Braamfontein, corner Kruger and Marshall Street in the Maboneng Precinct, and Quinn Street (Alleyway) in Newtown.

According to Grayscale, in a statement, “We hope this process can help to build stronger relations between the local and international artists involved and encourage future collaborations and artistic development. In addition, the aim is to inspire younger graffiti artists while at the same time educate the public by demonstrating the relevance of graffiti in the urban environment.”

Films will be screened at the Bioscope at Main Street Life from 18 to 20 April. The movies shown will be related to graffiti and street art.

On 21 April, a Graffiti Meets Tattoo Exhibition will be held at the Grayscale Gallery on 33 De Korte Street in Braamfontein.

In the statement, Grayscale notes, “despite the stark contrasts of the mediums, both have historically been considered criminal and have been dismissed by society. Ironically, writing on walls and making permanent marks on your skin are the oldest documented forms of visual art.

“This exhibition aims to explore the influence the mediums have on each other both stylistically and in approach, through painting, illustration and photography.”

Grayscale was opened by the Pressure Control Projects (PCP) Crew – a Joburg-based graffiti trio – as a one-stop shop in Braamfontein for street artists. PCP is made up of Rasty, Curio and Angel, who have each developed their own style individually and as a group over the past 10 years.

Three years after its launch, Grayscale moved into new premises next door to the old shop, a bigger space that allowed for the opening of the Grayscale Gallery.

Grayscale presents monthly exhibitions which provide a platform for young emerging artists who don't necessarily fit in to the conventional fine art world. Exhibitions range from graffiti to illustration as well as prints and sculptures.

The City of Gold Urban Art Festival is presented by the Grayscale Store and Gallery in partnership with Goethe Institut South Africa; Hotel Lamunu; South Point; British Council, Montana Cans, Plascon, Embassy of Spain in South Africa; and Alliance Française Johannesburg.

The progress of the walls will be updated daily on the City Of Gold website.

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