Coming up this weekend in Jozi: eleven inner-city Open Studios

An event-packed weekend coming up

As I wrote in my last blog, the upcoming week-end looks to be a very busy one, with several great events on offer. To quote Chris Thurman (Business Day 19th May): “Joburgers clear your calendars”.  

Open Studios

With the decline of inner city Joburg over the last decade plus, many unused buildings have been converted by artists into affordable communal studio spaces. One such collective founded in 2006 and now comprising about 40 artists, is based at August House at 76 End Street in Doornfontein. 

Enter Sara Hallatt the founder and director of the META Foundation, (a non-profit visual arts company based at August House. Sara is the driver of OpenStudios.Joburg, a weekend of opening several inner-city studios to the public, for people to meet the artists, see their artwork and hopefully start or augment their art collection.  2023’s Open Studios takes place on 27th and 28th May. 

There will be shuttle services from Shepstone Gardens (RMB Latitudes) to the inner city. These shuttles will move in loops around the studios with a shuttle being available every 15/20 minutes.

Saturday 27 May from 10:30am to 4pm

Access to all events is FREE, but visitors must register for each venue that they wish to attend. Book at Quicket

Sunday 28 May from 10:30am to 4pm

Preview of Open Studios: Lilian Road Studios

I was fortunate to be invited to the media launch of Open Studios. Having met at Play Braamfontein, we were driven in 2 shuttle buses to 2 inner city studios with our first stop at Lilian Road Studios in Fordsburg. Here we were met by the multi-talented and committed Gordon Froud: artist, educator, curator, mentor, art judge, collaborator and just generally a wonderful mensch.  

Built in 1913, this historic building at 38 Lilian Road cnr Albertina Sisulu Road, has been saved by the artists’ collective who have their studios here: Gordon Froud, Alastair Findlay, Ada Ruth-Kellow, Fiver Löcker, and the Print Girls amongst others.
Through the entrance hallway passing the kitchen of a Pakistani restaurant (the large cooking pots are stored on shelves at the back right), we climbed the staircase to the studio spaces on the first floor.
A haven of order, creativity and aesthetic richnesses. This is Gordon Froud’s print studio. His main studio for his sculpture and large works is at August House.
Jozi autumnal light: looking down on Albertina Sisulu street from the balcony outside Gordon’s studio with one of his star shaped sculptures
Free as a bird … flocks of pigeons roost on all the surrounding buildings
Pigeons play an important role in Islamic culture and so caring for them and feeding them is common practice.

And on to Asisebenze Studio (aka Asisebenze Art Atelier) in Plein Street to meet Mbali Tshabalala

Another site of contradictions and contrasts: by the light of ever-faithful cell phone torches, we navigated the several floors of stairs in the pitch dark of load-shedding arriving to an airy studio space with Tshabalala’s large-scale works on the wall and prints laid out on tables.  The balcony offered a birds-eye view of the hustle and bustle of rush-hour traffic in Plein Street below, while sipping cocktails.  And all this amidst photos and selfies of the influencers (for another blog). 

Mbali spoke about her struggle with depression and how her creative outlet led to recovery. Coming from a traditional Xhosa background, she spoke about the contradictions of being a woman in a patriarchal society, but yet how this society also reveres the role of the matriarch as the “core of cultural responsibility”.
Azizebenze studio space
Rush-hour traffic during loadshedding … a world apart from cocktails, selfies and influencers on the balcony above
It really was very dark! Emerging from the garage at street level at the end of the afternoon

Return to Play Braamfontein  

Back to where we started and the more studenty feel of Braamfontein: Kitchener’s Carvery and  DekorOne‘s graffiti on the facade of the Great Dane Bar

Thank you Johannesburg In Your Pocket, Open Studios and Nando’s for a thought-provoking and immersive afternoon of paradoxes, incongruities and Jozi’s ongoing kaleidoscope of clashing realities. Wonderful opportunity to meet artists, hear about their work and see their studio space. Really looking forward to more visits over the weekend. And a special shout out for a fabulous goodie pack with great books, notebooks, Nando’s spices, cards and more!! 





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3 thoughts on “Coming up this weekend in Jozi: eleven inner-city Open Studios

  1. Really looking forward to the weekend. I went last year with friends and enjoyed it immensely.

  2. Sorry I missed the Media event but time constraints were an issue. Will be visiting a few of the studios over the weekend. Joburg’s art scene is really buzzing at the moment.

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