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Experience the Best of South African Theatre
The Market Theatre is an iconic theatre associated with South Africa's political history. It is regarded as a bastion of struggle theatre and was established over 32 ago to provide a home for theatre that reflected the expereiences of black South Africans. Today it continues to provide a space for new plays and also provides a home for the Market Theatre Laboratory that has a training school fro professional actors. Housed in a heritage site of the Old Indian Market, the theatre is within the Newtown Cultural precinct that has a host of museums, dance and music venues within a 1 km radius.
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Top of Africa
The highest point in Africa.
One of the big skyscrapers is open to public for a magnificent view over the city. It's called Carlon Center. It's a shopping center and you follow signs to the panorama. Buy a ticket (don't know how much, but it isn't very much) and go up the elevator to the 50th floor.
I found the ticket, 2 1/2 yrs after having been there. It's 7,50 ZAR and nowadays that's about € 0,75 !
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Mary Fitzgerald Square
Mary "Pickhandle" Fitzgerald made her name in Johannesburg for her trade union activities and a number of firsts - first woman trade unionist, first woman printer and first woman city councillor.
She was born in Ireland in 1885 and after immigrating with her father to Cape Town in 1900, she got a job at The Castle as a typist.
She moved to Johannesburg in 1902 with her husband, John Fitzgerald, with whom she was to have five children. She soon found a job as a shorthand-typist with the Mine Workers' Union, where she became involved in collecting money for burials of phthisis victims.
Many miners were dying from phthisis - a disease in which the fine underground sand coated the lungs and made them as hard as a rock and thereby considerably shortened a miner's life - with no compensation for their dependants. The workers were disorganised and working under appalling conditions, with mine accidents accumulating.
Before long she was making rousing speeches to union members and became the country's first woman trade union organiser. She became more and more vocal and was involved in the miners' strikes of 1913 and 1914.
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Join a local tour where you'd...
Join a local tour where you'd be taken for a delightful tour of the city of Jo'burg. But DON'T travel alone! This is Jo'burg - a VERY dangerous city if you're walking along the streets ON YOUR OWN. Believe me, they can sniff you out and guess that you're just an innocent tourist. My dear sister was actually robbed of US$700 in cash right here in Sandton City, I think. Let me go check with her again. So, please be careful O.K.?
Dutch/Flemish paintings in Johannesburg
The Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) is exhibiting some of its historical Dutch collection in three of the gallery rooms between 13 November 2011 and 25 March 2012. This exhibition is being curated by Sheree Lissoos, the Historical Curator. There is an 1985 catalogue written by Jillian Carman which is still good, no, make that excellent, for this exhibition, as well as a new book on the subject of Dutch/Flemish art in South Africa.
The collection of “Golden Age” is representative of a time when the Dutch Republic was the most prosperous country in Europe. This small Dutch collection of paintings was acquired from 1947 onwards, beginning with a bequest of seventeen paintings from Eduard Houthakker. Our Dutch/Flemish collection is not grandiose by any standards, particularly not European ones, and I don't think that there is a need to feel intimidated by this. South Africa is one of the many countries which felt the impact of Dutch colonialism and it is certainly part of the South African heritage. However, the Cape of Good Hope was a minor vegetable station blip on the radar until the Dutch left and diamonds and gold were discovered up north.
Apart from the etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn and Albrecht Durer the names of the artists tend not to be very well known – Esias Boursse, Pieter Claesz, Gerrit van Deurs, Jacob Duck Lambert Jacobsz, Ludoph de Jongh, Frans de Momper and Anthonie Palamedesz don't jump out at me.
The Dutch works have not been seen for a while as JAG has been concentrating on more contemporary aspects of South African history and culture, so it is good to be able to see it in new light and with the specialist comment about the differents between Holland (secular, Protestant) and Flanders (Catholic) as well as the different genres of paintings which are represented.
These paintings can be narrative (historical, biblical, mythological, allegorical) in nature, or they can be portraits (well represented in this collection), still life with a moralistic message or a vanitas theme concerning the brevity of life or landscape. One of the ones I remember best is a riverscape entitled “Scene in a Dutch Town” by Jacobus Storck. The curator has got all these categories on display.
There are six of the many original Rembrandt van Rijn which JAG owns on display, and if anyone missed the exhibition of the full collection of these a few years back, this is an opportunity to see a few of them. There is a warning associated here. They are small etchings, not grandiose works. Be mentally prepared for this. I remember being a little disappointed when I saw the full exhibition.
The rest of the gallery is still filled with items from its permanent displays such as the Foundation Room, the Jackson Hlungwani Room and with a large exhibition by Mbongeni Buthelezi and the photographic exhibition by Pierre Crocquet. Also to be seen is an exhibition by Vasco Futscher in the Project Room.
The Johannesburg Art Gallery is situated in King George Street, between Wolmarans and Noord Streets, Joubert Park. Entrance is free. The gallery is open from 10h00 to 17h00 Tuesdays to Sundays. Secure parking is available. There is always an exhibition of some kind available, usually different ones upstairs and downstairs, as well as permanent exhibitions. There is a research library and appointments can be made to view specific works held in the JAG's collection of over 10 000 pieces. The Gallery conducts regular free art classes for local children. There is a small restaurant upstairs. For more information contact 011 725 3130.
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Downtown Jo'burg - CBD, Hillbrow, Berea
If you're feeling adventurous (or brave) or if you're like me and are going stir crazy walking around in secure malls then there's always a city center tour to do.
Whilst that seems the normal thing to do in any city bear in mind the center of Johannesburg has seen a flight of businesses from the CBD to the northern suburbs of Sandton which has led to the deterioration of the city centre to a no go area.
Recent govenment initiatives to redevelop and re-attract business to the area are having some successes, but the area is commonly cited as one of the most dangerous on the planet! If you are going, go with a reputable tour guide or a local you trust. It's actually not that bad and I was glad to have seen it eventually
BHP Billiton building's Art Deco frieze
The BHP Billiton building occupies a small city block and from its flanks on the Fox Street and Marshall Street, it is an unremarkable structure, somewhat precariously topped by a helipad. But take a few steps around the corner into the Hollard Street Mall and the building presents a whole different perspective.
It's certainly an unexpected place to come across a massive Art Deco bas relief which gives a potted version of South Africa's history from the arrival of the first white settlers. The tale casts Afrikaners and the mining industry in a starring role in South Africa's development. This is not surprising because BHP Billiton's precursors - General Mining and Federale Mynbou, which merged to form Gencor - were companies whose establishment was intended to counter what was perceived as the English speaking stranglehold on the South African mining industry established by the likes of the Oppenheimer family, who controlled Anglo American and De Beers.
In 2003, this building was awarded the Colosseum award by the Johannesburg Heritage Trust in recognition of its sensitive restoration and heritage conservation.
Oh yes, this is yet another on the list of Johannesburg buildings that I have worked in - only this time, on a visiting basis, when I was worked in one of Gencor's regional offices and was only summoned up to The Temple of Doom on high days and holidays!
Holland Street Mall: Johannesburg's mining history
In tandem with the adjacent Main Street precinct, the Hollard Street precinct (between Fox and Main Streets) is part of the highly successful urban renewal project that has been undertaken to celebrate Johannesburg's extraordinary mining history.
The Marshalltown and adjacent Ferreirasdorp areas - now part of the Jo'burg CBD - were key to the development of the Witwatersrand gold mining industry and still house the South African headquarters of several international mining houses. Companies such as Anglo American and BHP Billiton were founded in South Africa and have used their South African assets as a springboard to develop truly international portfolios. Virtually all of the major South African mining houses are now listed on international stock exchanges as well as the local Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) which used to be located in Diagonal Street, but which sadly joined the exodus of companies to the perceived safety of the Sandton CBD in 2000.
Hollard Street was named after an Austrian-born lawyer who settled in Pretoria. It is extremely short and houses only two buildings with stunning Art Deco credentials: the BHP Billiton headquarters and the Chamber of Mines building, which forms the backdrop to this photo.
This piece of equipment is a stamp mill, which was steam driven and used to crush the rock as the first step in extracting the gold. The stamp mills were imported and transported to the Witwatersrand by ox cart, and within a few years of the first gold find, over 10,000 were operating across the region. This particular stamp mill was commissioned in 1886 at the Robinson Mill at Langlaagte and was one of the earliest on the Rand. It was displayed at the Empire Show in 1939, and was subsequently donated to the City of Johannesburg.
The Hollard Street precinct extends over onto the northern side of Fox Street, where you'll find an interesting collection of mine locomotives and cocoa pans (used to move men and materials underground) as well as the gorgeous replica of the Mapungubwe rhino.
Explore bohemian Art on Main
Art on Main is a warehouse redevelopment project on the corner of Main and Nugget Streets, a particularly unloved - and unlovely area - that has not so much been overlooked as forgotten completely. It is notable in that it's the first major urban renewal project that I know of that's taken place east of the CBD: the Hollard Street and Main Street pedestrian precincts, Newtown and Turbine Square are all located on the western fringe of the CBD, and Braamfontein with Constitution Hill - hosting the Constitutional Court, Women's Prison, No.4 prison and the Nelson Mandela Theatre complex are on its northern fringe).
The complex comprises a New York style redesign of a series of warehouses into an attractive and original series of design studios and boutique shops. However, its main attraction is the fact that on Sundays and the first Thursday night of the month, Arts on Main hosts a food market, showcasing gourmet food from local producers. It is a splendid place to graze, first sampling the produce from the stalls and finally plumping for the one that grabs your fancy. And if you're hungry for something more substantial, there's even a restaurant on the perimeter of the complex where you can sample a strong contender for South Africa's national dish: nyoma chomo (barbecued goat)!
Art on Main's Thursday night cocktails and Sunday in the City are fast becoming an institution, and if you're looking for that new York boho vibe, then this is the place to be. Grab a Mojito and lounge amid the olive and lemon trees hidden away in the trendy converted warehouse environment, smugly relishing that inner city vibe whilst the more conventional classes retreat to their staid suburbans refuges!
Just a word of warning: street parking is at a premium, and the parking in surrounding warehouses is overpriced. Be prepared to have to park a couple of blocks away, in which case, don't pay the (self appointed) parking attendant in advance, and rather incentivise him by telling him that you'll give him a 'good bonsela' (bonus) if your car is still OK on your return.
This building, the tallest in Africa, was the heart of the city commerce, until recent years when all the commercial offices and hotels, moved to Sandtown. From the top of it, one can see great views of the city. There´s also a restaurant and some souvenirs shops at the top.
i visited Johannesburg downtown in an organized tour, it´s a good way to see how the city was during the times of the City of Gold.
Johannesburg Street Scene.
I dind´t walk through the downtown (i was highly recommended to don´t do it), but i saw some of the active life of the city from the bus.
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