Sandisiwe Mbhele
Lifestyle Journalist
3 minute read
26 May 2022
9:54 am

WATCH: Breaking the art stigma with Open Studios Joburg

Sandisiwe Mbhele

A concept that will be open to all visitors, Open Studio Joburg is a tour across the city's CBD to allow guests to meet artists and enjoy their exhibitions.

Wezile Harmans art piece. Picture: Instagram

The stigma that art is inaccessible and people being afraid to step into a gallery over the fear of being judged, overlooked and not being able to afford art pieces is something Open Studios Joburg is trying to change.

A concept that will soon be open to all visitors, the studios of close to 100 working artists – initiated by the META Foundation, Open Studios Joburg – will highlight seven art buildings across the city’s CBD and beyond.

During the media walkabout at Victoria Yards, we were given an insight into how this tour will go ahead. 

Visitors will be able to meet the artists, interact with the works, and enjoy a programme of exhibitions, walkabouts, performances and an after-party.

The sites are:

  • August House,
  • Bag Factory Artists’ Studios,
  • Ellis House,
  • Living Artists Emporium,
  • LAPA at Breezeblock,
  • Transwerke Studios,
  • Victoria Yards

Simone Marie Farah

Our first stop was artist Simone Marie Farah who has had a studio in Victoria Yards for the past four years. She says the intention of her art is to break the barrier as people find it intimidating.

“Artists should make people feel comfortable,” she said. Her latest exhibition is titled “Seasonal Changes”.

The self-taught artist delves deeper into the human experience, something she has taken into her own art pieces particularly after her father passed away in 2014. 

Her pieces are geometries, erosion and informal patterns addressing questions of origin and abstract language.

WATCH: Open Studios Joburg artist tour:

Our second stop was August House, a five-minute drive from Victoria Yards, to chat with renowned artist Sam Nhlengethwa at his studio.

His work has been featured in a number of international exhibitions as his next focus will be mentoring the upcoming generation of artists.

Nhlengethwa talked about the struggle to get his studio up and running, particularly how hard it was battling hijacked buildings that surround the area, but they have preserved their place for several years.

ALSO READ: Art for good: Raising pangolin awareness with a powerful exhibition

Bag Factor Artist Studios

We then headed over to Bag Factor Artist Studios to chat with talented visual and performative artist Wezile Harmans.

“I regret to inform you” is his latest project and is about the number of rejections young people receive looking for employment.

Wezile Harmans ‘We regret to inform you’. Picture: Thahasello Mphatsoe

The artist says he wants to portray black art with the expectation of pain, and struggle, rather than filled with joy and peace – something many agreed with.

His work is influenced by how things have come to existence, as well as motivations behind certain movements, reactions, human behaviours, and mostly how these become symbols.

Wezile Harmans is the 2022 recipient of the Best Creative Collection for Visual Art at the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences Awards and his next performative piece will be at the 2022 Grahamstown National Art Festival.

Open Studios Joburg will take place on Saturday 28 May and Sunday 29 May 2022 with selected studios taking part during the two days. 

The studios will be linked via a free shuttle service to allow visitors to safely explore the city. 

Tickets to the event are free but visitors must register on quicket.