Christmas In July 4th Ave Parkhurst 28th July – it’s fun

White House Interiors looked magical 39 4th Ave 011 788 1626

White House Interiors looked magical 39 4th Ave 011 788 1626

Carols wafting onto the July moonlit street

Carols wafting onto the July moonlit street

I don’t know how this maven missed the first evening of Christmas in July in Parkhurst. Having been a bit of a party-gal over the previous week or so, I was very pleased for an early night last Thursday. But then a friend said ‘Just pop into Mot Mot for a sherry, Parkhurst is buzzing and there’s a beautiful full moon’. I’m not sure which was the most compelling, the thought of Mot Mot (one of my favourite shops even before it’s excellent revamp ); the full moon in the clear winter’s sky on a relatively warm Highveld winter’s evening; the street buzz of late opening on 4th Ave; … or maybe even the sherry? FOMO struck (surely I’m too old for this?) …, and never one to miss out, I hot-footed it down the hill. Christmas lights abounded; people spilled out onto pavements chatting in groups; there were bagpipers and carol-singers; and a general feeling of festivity and good cheer prevailed.

Xmas In JulyAnd the best thing is that there is another evening of Christmas in July this Thursday 28th July. So make sure you don’t miss it. It really had a great atmosphere. Not too crowded but enough of a crowd to be fun and vibey. And Mot Mot is looking even more stunning than previously. They have joined up with Garden Bleu and have all sorts of amazing funky items you really don’t need, but know you will regret it if you don’t purchase, and equally know will always find the perfect place in your home. Mervyn Gers’ fabulous platters and bowls with stylish fish designs, stunning ceramics by Loren Kaplan, a huge section of bowls and

Loren Kaplan's ceramic vases and bowls

Loren Kaplan’s ceramic vases and bowls

beakers from Potter’s Seed and of course Strawberry Thief’s fabulous  chairs with bold multi-coloured fabrics, are all there to tempt you. The teaming up with Garden Bleu (who have long been in neighbouring Greenside), adds a great range and variety to Mot Mot’s offerings – wicker baskets for amazing cymbidium orchids, lots of metal decorative objects for outside walls, unusual plant hangers. It is a real treasure trove of wonderfully different objects and furniture. You will not be disappointed – it’s a treat.

 

 

Feast your eyes on those chairs

Feast your eyes on those chairs

Great new look Mot Mot

Great new look Mot Mot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a couple of new restaurants that have opened (between 14th and 13th Streets). Salsa is a Mexican restaurant described as fun and vibey so if a whole group are going to 4th Ave, it would be a good place to get something to eat and break bread.  Café del Sol Tre is next door to Salsa. The name Tre celebrates the power of three – the 3 members of the family who run it (Mamma Luciana, daughter Chiara and son Ryan); it’s their third restaurant (the other two are in Olivedale and Bryanston); and it’s a reference to the triangular designs of Art Deco – the theme and style of the Parkhurst restaurant. The Olivedale Café del Sol has an excellent reputation so it’s worth giving this one a try.

Coobs (in the same block), has just launched the Supper Club where they provide a seasonal menu (so always fresh ingredients) paired with SA’s best boutique wines. Chef James Diack says: ‘Coobs is one of only two restaurants in South Africa which can accurately trace the provenance of its food – meaning we know exactly where our ingredients come from’.  I want to find out which/where the other restaurant is!

 

One of the BEST shops in Parkhurst - an institution.

Parkhurst Bookshop – one of the BEST shops in Parkhurst – an institution.

Along with all the restaurants, pavement cafes & coffee bars (fortunately no night clubs – which has been Parkhurst’s saving grace .. witness Melville and Greenside’s downward slide), 4th Ave Parkhurst has managed to maintain its wonderfully old-fashioned high street feel with shops like the renowned Braeside butchery; the ever-helpful chemist; and hardware (nothing is ever unsolvable here); and of course the Parkhust Bookshop – another veritable treasure trove which warrants a blogpost all of its own. There are boutiques (Desray, Banana Moon, Egality); nail bars and beauty salons (Sorbet and Africology);  specialty stores: Santos (every kind of stylish storage and display box you could want), the Kitchen Shop, Polly Potter’s Toy Store, Rick’s Secondhand Bookshop; antique shops and interior décor shops.

 

So even when its’ not Christmas in July, it’s a great street for wandering and window-shopping. It’s always a firm favourite with guests staying at http://www.lizatlancaster.co.za (only 5 minutes away by car).

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What’s in a Pop Up?

David KrutPop-up shops are becoming more and more popular for understandable reasons:  theoretically stock is moved quickly; the overheads are low; there’s a specific target market; the product can be seasonally geared, etc.  However, given all this, I think that some Pop Ups work better than others. A few weeks ago I went to Opening the Drawers: a Limited Edition Print Pop Up shop with David Krut Projects held at the Parktown High School for Girls in nearby Tyrone Avenue Parkview.  This is the second such Pop Up event that David Krut has run with Ann Roberts.

This Pop Up seemed to work particularly well  … why? I spoke to Robyn Penn who was instrumental in organizing the first David Kurt Pop Up with Ann Roberts.  In Robyn’s view there’s a ‘winning formula’ for these events. So what is this formula? Most importantly the product was superb: a wide range of great art works from both up-and-coming artists as well as established artists such as William Kentridge, Penny Siopis, Senzo Shabangu, Stephen Hobbs, Paul Stopforth, Bronwyn Findlay, Sandile Goje, Richard Penn, Robyn Penn, Diane Victor, Sam Nhlengethwa, Deborah Bell, Bonita Alice, Colbert Mashile, Nathaniel Stern, Wilma Cruise, Mary Wafer, amongst many many others. In addition it was a

A winning formula always includes space in the winter sun and chilled live music

A winning formula always includes space in the winter sun and chilled live music

Various pop-up food stalls

Various pop-up food stalls

fabulous balmy Highveld winter’s day (there’s no control over that); a great space at Parktown Girls High School with courtyards, and a large hall with big tables and lots of space to see the works; live music from The Runaway Train Cult; a couple of food trucks providing sustenance and drinks; a great child activity area where kids could make collages … leaving parents to enjoy a convivial social time around tables in the sun and most importantly for the organizers, …. child free time to browse and buy. What more could you need?

I think there are a couple of other factors which made this such a successful event. Central to consumer psychology seems to be the act of seeing what other people are buying – a little bit like the behaviour of a dog with a bone; or a child suddenly needing a toy when a sibling starts playing with it, even though she has been unaware of its existence for months. I watched people as they overheard somebody at their side picking up an artwork and saying: ‘Isn’t this stunning? Should we buy it? ’ And then adding greater incentive and reassurance by discussing why they liked it. This both sparks interest and validates any choices – rather like chatter at the communal mirror in the women’s change room at a clothing-store. The only difference being that the artwork looks the same whoever holds it up! The communal buying space also feeds into the psychology of being left out. FOMO of the real artefact. ‘This is the last work in the edition – if I don’t buy it somebody else might and I will lose out’.

Ann Roberts said of this Pop Up event: ‘We want to make art accessible to a broader market so that anybody can have a piece on their walls. … it’s not really a gallery. It’s the antithesis of a gallery in the sense that there [are] no walls and nothing hanging’.  And this explains another factor for the success of the event – the browsing experience is not alienating.

A wonderful space where all the works were laid out on tables

A wonderful space where all the works were laid out on tables

All the works are laid out on tables; fully protected so that the buyer can pick them up; (what gallery allows you to handle the artwork?); the prices are on the back so one doesn’t have to keep asking ‘How much is this?’ or peer myopically at a label; one can get an overall sense of everything available – nothing in stacks one has to flip through one at a time- and then one can return at will to anything of interest.  Several of the artists were present – there is nothing like having a lived sense of the author or artist to motivate buying a book or an art work. It seems to make the product more personally meaningful, more accessible, and more desirable – hence the success of book launches and book signings.  And finally the pièce de résistance:  there were framers on site who on purchase, would immediately measure, quote and take orders for framing … so ‘cementing’ the purchase(s) and making it all too late for any buyer’s remorse.

All in all – a great winning formula.  So make sure you get to David Krut and Ann Roberts’ next Pop Up event. It’s a great way to have easy access to a large number of works by well-known South African artists and you don’t even have to buy – much as I was tempted by several works … I resisted!

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Another remake for the Sheds at no 1 Fox St

Decadence deluxe!!

Decadence deluxe!!

Midmorning on a cold winter’s day is not the ideal time to experience a newly launched industrial-space leisure hub in Jozi inner city, but despite the cold winter chill and the fact that few people know of the reopening, we still had a great time a few week-ends back when we made our way down to the newly developing precinct at no 1 Fox Street. It’s had a fab remake after its initial launch back in 2014.  I went with my family and grandchildren intending to see the 2016 Wildlife Photography of the Year Exhibition which has come directly from London’s Natural History Museum.  But … first we had to have coffee and something to eat, so browsed our way around the food stalls with fabulous mouthwatering offerings ranging from hamburgers and wraps to meze platters and seafood delicacies and of course, amazing cakes and pastries.  We settled for delicious wraps and hamburgers brought to our table outside in the sheltered sunshine.

Oh the magic and power of a huge empty space that resonates with the sound of our voices.

Oh the magic and power of a huge empty space that resonates with the sound of our voices.

And then the two little munchkins wanted to explore – what a space for 2 energetic toddlers.  You need an adult per child to keep watch over them! And man, did they enjoy the power of their own voices in the cavernous cathedral-like space of the building housing Fox Junction Event Venue (seen on the right).   Unfortunately all this adventure and excitement meant we hadn’t left ourselves enough time to see the photography exhibition, but the good part is that we’ll have to go back.

There are currently 5 main spaces:

  1. the Food Market Shed (opening out onto a north facing ‘piazza’ looking directly onto that most notorious of Joburg landmarks: the old John Vorster  Square renamed Johannesburg Central Police Station in 1997)
  2. an adjacent craft and clothing market shed on the south side (the Wild Life Photography Exhibition is located in part of this space)
  3. Fox Junction Event Venue (the old Sheds market space seen on the right), part of which was being set up for a team building event when we were there
  4. the Good Luck Bar and Restaurant
  5. and the newly opened Mad Giant Craft  Brewery and Urbanologi Restaurant .
The Good Luck Bar - a favourite city watering hole

The Good Luck Bar – a favourite city watering hole

Letter from Mr Stonestreet dated 20 January 1899 addressed to Den Staats Procurier referring to the Good Luck Bar cited by 2006 Heritage Inventory of Main Place by Birkholtz and Naudep 32

 

Above right is a copy of a letter from Mr Stonestreet dated 20 January 1899 addressed to Den Staats Procurier referring to the Good Luck Bar (Cited by Birkholtz and Naude) in their 2006 Heritage Inventory of Main Place p 32) `

 

The whacky Mad Giant

The whacky Mad Giant

Reserved tables ready for the lunch session

Reserved tables ready for the lunch session

 

The Mad Giant and Urbanologi Restaurant is a really great space – whacky murals, and fabulous industrial detailing with, of course, the Mad Giant laser cut-out dominating the space.  It seems it’s the latest hip happening space – with large tables set up for lunch bookings.  It’s really taken off.  Young guests staying at Liz at Lancaster who went midweek said it was pumping.  The food market is currently only open Fridays to Sundays.

 

2008 photo showing the space between the Mad Giant and the Market Food Shed

2008 photo of some of the buildings

I have quite a long connection with no 1 Fox St because, back in 2008 when I was still doing heritage research work for developers in the inner city, I was asked by the Johannesburg Land Company who owned the Hudaco site, to compile a history of the site. Unfortunately the project was called to a halt so I did not complete the report and only have a very rough working draft.

The buildings at no 1 Fox St were built as workshops and warehouses for the engineering company Hubert Davies and many date back to the late 19th Century. Davies trained as an electrical engineer via apprenticeship in England and came to South Africa in 1889. Initially employed at Jumpers Gold Mine, he is said to have installed the first telephone on the goldfields – a phone linking Jumpers Battery to the Mine Office.

 

Workshop staff 24 May 1899

Workshop staff 24 May 1899 (Birkholtz and Naude Heritage Inventory of Main Place 2006 p 23)

By 1891 he had set up his own company and he was very soon awarded the contract for an electricity plant for the Johannesburg Lighting Company.  In 1893 Hubert Davies and Co leased the land from Robinson Mining Company to set up their workshops and stores. In 1898 William Spain joined and the company became known as Hubert Davies and Spain Engineers as can be in seen in the accompanying photo (left) from May 1899.  After a brief closure with the outbreak of the South African War when the company relocated to East London, the company’s manufacturing section (operating as Hubert Davies & Co after Spain left) remained at the Main/Fox St premises until the 1960s.

 

Hudaco Building Rissike St completed 1934

Hudaco Building Rissik St completed 1934

Completed in 1932 in Rissik St, the Head Office of Hubert Davies and Co., known as Hudaco House, was occupied until 1962.

So, empty and abandoned for many years, it is great that new life has been breathed into the corrugated iron, brick and wood structures in the eastern part of town known historically as Ferreirastown (as this is where Ferreira set up the first mining camp with the initial rush for gold in 1886).  Property developers and the leisure and entertainment industry have enabled the buildings to survive through adaptive re-use.  As the heritage theorist Kirschenblatt-Gimblett says in her 1998 book Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage:  ‘Heritage is a mode of cultural production in the present that has recourse to the past. Heritage thus defined, depends on display to give dying economies and dead sites a second life as exhibitions of themselves.’

I love how entrepreneurs (many of them quite young) are contributing to the inner-city regeneration: from the array of developments in Braamfontien, to the fast expanding Maboneng precinct, to newly launched no 1 Eloff St and now this reworked amazing industrial heritage space.

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