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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Jozi’s cultural scene is packed with wondrous offerings this week

07 10 July Turbine Art FairJozi’s cultural calendar is very full this week with lots of amazing events to choose from.   Apart from all the exhibitions which are on (see last week’s blog on, the long-awaited Matisse exhibition ‘Rhythm and Meaning’ opens at the Standard Bank on Wednesday 13th.  Sure to be a block buster (the 2007 Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern in London attracted 500,000 visitors), this is Standard Bank’s 4th international modernist exhibition – the others showed the works of Chagall, Miró, and Picasso along with some of his contemporaries.   Matisse is co-curated by Patrice Deparpe, director of the Musée Matisse in Le Chateau Cambrésis, Matisse’s home town in northern France, and Federico Freschi, executive dean of the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.


Woman with Hat 1905 Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco

Woman with Hat 1905 Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco

I remember being fascinated as a third year History of art student by Prof Rory Doepel’s visual analysis of Matisse’s great slabs of dissonant colour and ‘wild’ jagged brushwork in his Woman with a Hat from 1905, painted during his Fauve period. I also loved the bold compositions and lyricism of his abstracted dancing figures which prefigured the planar simplicity and brightly saturated colours of many of his later cut-out collages, a technique he developed after 1941 when, following surgery, he was confined to a wheelchair. He called this new direction ‘painting with scissors’.

Cover of Jazz

Cover of Jazz

His assistants would paint large sheets of white paper in very bright gouache, he would then cut out shapes and abstracted images and would arrange them on the wall of his work space until he was satisfied with the final composition. In 1943 he began to work on Jazz, a book with twenty colour plates of his cut-out collage designs interspersed with his written thoughts. Jazz was published in 1947. Its main theme was the circus, with clowns acrobats and animals.  There are also however, references to wartime violence in the images of exploding stars and falling bodies.

Matisse walkaboutsMost of the works come from the Musée Matisse and while the works on show cover his entire oeuvre, the core is the complete set of Jazz Prints. There will be several lunchtime walkabouts by Wilhelm Van Rensburg. The show runs until 17th September.

As if this is all not too much excitement and activity for art lovers,

Turbine Hall

Turbine Hall

there is the Turbine Art Fair from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th  (preview on Thursday).  Not only is the Turbine Hall an amazing venue (wonderful adaptive re-use of industrial heritage), but there is always good food provided by the Forum Company, and all the local galleries have stalls so there is a wide range of work to see. Plus there are some interesting talks accompanying the fair including the Matisse curators talking about the exhibition at 1.30-2.30 on Saturday, and at 11 -12 on Sunday, Warren Siebrits will talk about the Battiss exhibition at WAM which he curated.  For more see

And then for those who couldn’t make the 969 km trek down to Grahamstown, hot from the Festival is Gauteng’s local 969 festival at the Wits Theatre, featuring 21 theatre, dance and music productions from both the main and the fringe stages.  pay back the curryIt seems Daniel Mpilo Richards is a hit in Mike Van Graan’s new satire which depicts ‘a variety of characters (and caricatures) that comment on all things contemporary, from fees and falls, through sparrows and statues to Zuptas and zombies!’  Tony Jackman’s review of 3 Festival plays (Daily Maverick 8 July) says of  van Graan’s Pay back the curry:

Curry’ is soooo, soooo funny. And this kid [Daniel Mpilo Richards] can act. He can do anything. I cried with laughter as he flipped and flopped in and out of a slew of characters and accents; now he’s a white boytjie, now he’s a black dude, now he’s an aunty, now he’s a kugel, now he’s a singer auditioning for Idols (and yes he can sing too). He is ace at physical theatre, and for something like an hour he blasted his way through an avalanche of lines from Van Graan’s wittily acerbic pen with barely a pause for breath’.

In Unveiled Gulshan Mia plays 5 different Muslim women in a play which deals with Islamophobia.  And Heart’s Hotel looks to be a very interesting production with a stage set of brown paper and some characters played by puppets : ‘A story of displacement, desire and a deadly scorpion. Heart’s Hotel features shadow puppetry and two of the country’s finest physical theatre performers, it  is bleak, comic, and visually thrilling’. See It seems there is only one performance however at 13.15 on Friday 22nd July.

For the full  programme see

Definitely too many things to do and see and too little time.



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#FirstThursday – Late evening opening 7th July

Liz’s Pick of the Week is the exhibition  at Wits Art Museum of Jack Ginsberg’s collection of some 700 Battiss’ 07 3 July Battiss WAM photo
artworks and related material. This promises to be a great exhibition. It opened last night 5th July and runs until 9th October.  And while at Wits you can pop down to Origins Museum and see the related Battis exhibition – his rock art work.

It’s #FirstThursday tomorrow 7th July when many of the art galleries stay open late – both in Braamfontein and along the Rosebank Art Mile.  First Thursdays started as a Cape Town initiative and is gradually taking off in Joburg.  But take extra care walking between galleries in Braamfontein – there was a report of a mugging at last month’s #First Thursday. Hopefully the  Braamfontein Business Precinct will take note and will have provide extra security.

Showing at Stevenson Gallery in Juta St is the Standard Bank’s 2015 Young Artist’s Award Winner, Kemang Wa Lehulere.  He has also been named the 2017 Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year, and has a solo exhibition opening at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, in March.  Tellingly he says that his work has been received better internationally than in South Africa. In his paintings, drawings and sculptures, he transforms and morphs forms into different objects which then becoming free floating signifiers of meaning, de-linked from their original context. The exhibition runs until 15th July.

Chrysler Building 2015  Image courtesy Mpho Mokgadi

Chrysler Building 2015
Image courtesy Mpho Mokgadi



Showing at Room (also Juta St) until 30 July is Mpho Mokgadi’s In Situ.  This body of work consists of medium format architectural portraits of several key buildings and well-known landmarks in Joburg’s inner city. Deliberately empty of human figures there’s a pristine surreal quality to these emblems of power.This exhibition runs until 30th July.

Moving further north to Rosebank – Goodman Gallery‘s 50th Anniversary exhibition closes on 9th July.  Several of the the stalwart avant-garde artists have works on display in this tribute to Goodman’s development of a stable of critically aware and engaged artists, many of whom like Kentridge, have achieved international recognition.



PennOne of my favourite artists is showing her work at David Krut. In Clouds of Unknowing,  Robyn Penn juxtaposes images of clouds with portraits of climate-change dissidents to critique and comment on the climate change issue.

At nearby David Krut Project, there’s an exhibition which introduces a Wakponreally interesting concept: here visitors can download an app on their smart phone which enables them to view, with auditory commentary, the works of  10 contemporary artists in the collection of the  Zinsou Foundation for Modern Art in Qidah in Benin.  How cool is that? This exhibition opens on 7th for #FirstThursday and runs until 1st August.    ‘Wakpon’ means ‘come and see’ in Fon, the most widely spoken local language in Benin.

Lizamore openingAt Lizamore & Associates there are two solo exhibitions by Cape Town based artists: Orda716 by Kilmany-Jo Liversage and Attachments and Separation by Uwe Pfaff. I know of neither of these artists so look forward to seeing their work.

MAcGArryMichael McGarry’s exhibition Between Rot and Genesis opens on Thursday 7th at Everard Read Gallery until 30th July.  Michael MacGarry is a multi-award winning filmmaker and visual artist and (mea culpa), I have always found his work quite inaccessible. I am not sure the gallery blurb is any more enlightening  so will be interested to see what this exhibition offers.

At Circa on Jellicoe Blessing Ngobeni The song of the Chicotte  also opens on Thursday night. The chicotte is known as the sjambok in South Africa and Ngobeni uses the chicotte as ‘a metaphor for slavery in general – not just historical slavery but slavery of the mind, the spirit – in the country, our relationships, ourselves. We brutalise ourselves and each other, and perpetuate the patterns that we have inherited: the sins of the fathers are, more often than not, still being visited on their children.  …. In place of these old patterns, Ngobeni urges us towards a new vision of the world – one “not ruled by the hyenas of old, who wear different guises and inflict the same punishments”.’ (Gallery Website)

Down the road at Gallery Momo until 18th July is a fascinating exhibition of Congoleses artist Maurice Mbikya‘s works. Entitled Mupia-Mupia which is a Luba word meaning ‘new and shiny’, Mbikya foregrounds the importance of the role of clothing Mbikayain Congolese society as a signifier of status, identity and calling attention. In virtual space people construct digital identities and it is this interface between the aesthetics of fashion and the politics of digital identities that Mbikya examines. The artist used obsolete technological parts, specifically computer pieces as a source material, and reshapes these into fashion items.

So – there is plenty to choose from this #firstThursday.

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