The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) has been the catalyst in installing public art all over the city.
Sculptures and murals of all shapes and sizes can be found in the inner city and the results of undertaking is a portfolio of artwork that brands Johannesburg as a creative and welcoming city that celebrates its heritage and people.
This heritage month, we focus on the Cultural Arc, the connection between three dominant cultural precincts, Braamfontein, Newtown and Constitution Hill, and explore some of the renowned artworks in the precincts.
Braamfontein is one of Johannesburg’s most vibrant examples of inner city regeneration. The Braamfontein Precinct is filled with galleries, public art installations and colourful graffiti murals that can be spotted throughout the student district.
• The Eland
The Eland by Clive van den Berg is on the corner of Ameshoff and Bertha streets and is more than 5.5 metres tall, weighing more than 20 tons. Motorists driving through Braamfontein towards the city centre and across the Nelson Mandela Bridge are welcomed by the Eland gazing down on them.
• Nzunza by Hannelie Coetzee
Hannelie Coetzee’s Nzunza is a 10 storey-tall mural on the side of the North City House building, in Braamfontein, made from more than 2000 ceramic plates. The artwork, unveiled in August 2018, is named and inspired by the history and culture of the Ndzundza Ndebele people who lived in the area in the 17th Century.
Newtown has grown into a hub of cultural institutions and businesses focused on growing the creative and cultural space of Johannesburg and is now a place of artistic and creative expression, known for its public art and heritage attractions.
• Nelson Mandela: Shadow Boxer
The Shadow Boxer, created by artist Marco Cianfanelli, guards Chancellor House on 25 Fox Street, where Mandela and Oliver Tambo situated their Mandela & Tambo law firm in the 1950s. Now a heritage site, the space is open to the public, with historical displays.
• Newtown Heads
The Newtown Heads, a public art installation of 560 carved wooden heads that sit on plinths across the Newtown Precinct, have become one of Newtown’s most iconic features over the past 18 years. Last year, restored Newtown Heads and a colourful new art installation by the Imbali Visual Literacy Project were revealed to the public. Spearheading the refurbishment of the Newtown Heads was sculptor Americo Guambe who led the original team of artists who first created them in 2001.
Constitution Hill has become an integrated, multipurpose and multidimensional space major tourist attraction situated between the high-density residential neighbourhood of Hillbrow to its east and the commercial and residential node of Braamfontein to its west.
• Arch For Arch
The Arch for Arch public art commemorates the work and life of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Consisting of 14 individually arched beams of wood, each of which signify a line from the Constitution’s preamble. The artwork, designed and built by Oslo- and award-winning architecture studio Snøhetta, in collaboration with South African architect Thomas Chapman, was installed as part of 21st anniversary of the South African Constitution celebrations.
• The South African Flag
One of the most impressive at the Constitution court, the highest court in the land, is the 6m by 2.5m intricately beaded and embroidered South African flag, found the court chamber. The flag was hand-stitched over a period of six months by a group of women from KwaZulu-Natal.