Arts and Culture, Featured

Where to find the best public art in Jozi

Feb 6, 2020, Author: Hello Joburg

Joburg’s inner city is known for a number of things – not all of them are good (we’ll admit it), but the City of Gold is home to some truly exceptional public art. This art is not only beautiful but also embedded with cultural history, making it a must-see for all. One thing’s for sure: Whoever said Jozi wasn’t beautiful clearly hasn’t seen these stunning pieces! 


Newtown Heads 

The Newtown Heads have been a distinctive part of the Newtown Cultural Precinct for over 15 years and are even more mesmerising since having had a facelift in 2018. The collection of over 500 wooden heads was refurbed by a team of artists led by Americo Guambe, who was one of the lead artists in their original creation in 2001. Made from disused railway sleepers, the heads are all unique and reflect the numerous countries and traditions from across the African continent.  

Fire Walker  

Made in a collaborative effort between celebrated artist William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx, Fire Walker is truly a sight to behold. The 10-metre sculpture was constructed as part of in the inner-city rejuvenation project ahead of the 2010 soccer world cup and depicts a woman with a fire brazier balanced on top of her head. Due to its large size, the sculpture was constructed in situ and pays homage to South Africa’s numerous female entrepreneurs who cook and sell mielies on the side of the road.  

Una Salus Victis Nullam Sperare Salutem  

This magnificent wall mural done by internationally acclaimed artist, Faith47 is a popular spot for Instagram photos and it’s easy to see why. The painting, which spans the length of two walls on the corner of Fox and Rissik Streets, shows a herd of photo realistic zebras running. The action of the animals goes hand in hand with the energy and life of the city. The title for the artwork comes from an ancient poem by Virgil that translates to ‘the only hope for the doomed, is no hope at all’, embodying the theme of the work, which implies that you cannot escape your destiny.  


Democracy is Dialogue  

Situated in Beyers Naude Square is artist Lawrence Lamaoana’s Democracy is Dialogue. This bronze statue was erected in the square in 2015 as a part of the Women’s Day proceedings and pays respect to the known and unknown heroines during South Africa’s many protests and pursuits of political liberation. The woman holds a placard that reads, “Democracy is dialogue” (hence the name of the work) and a Molotov cocktail in her other hand, which is a play on the Goddess of Democracy who typically holds a torch. She’s placed on three steel pillars, making her visible from the street as well as the square. 


Clive van der Berg’s enormous concrete and metal Eland sculpture has become a significant part of Braamfontein, acting as a gateway of sorts between the suburb and the city. The size of the Eland gives it a grand look although there’s also something slightly forlorn about it. The grooves on the beast are filled with indigenous shrubbery, which further symbolise the country’s stunning plant life and natural heritage while also representing the growth of the city.  


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