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Immerse yourself in Joburg’s new public art directory

Public art boosts confidence, draws people in, and encourages investment, all of which are catalysts for development and economic success.

Joburg’s vibrant public art scene adds cultural flair and reflects the city’s unique identity.

It enriches the urban landscape and infuses open spaces with meaning and vitality, reminding us of the connection between art and society.

Annually, on World Art Day, April 15th, the city celebrates the power of art to connect communities and spark creativity, fostering an appreciation for the rich tapestry of artistic expressions and recognising the invaluable contributions of artists towards sustainable development.

The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) spokesperson, Kenneth Nxumalo, said: “Public art reflects the collective vision and identity of the city while empowering individuals and communities to celebrate their unique heritage while bringing meaning and identity to spaces.”

The city’s arts, culture, and heritage directorate has a digital directory showcasing over 70 public artworks across Johannesburg. This initiative supports local artists (designers and fabricators) and empowers residents to explore the artistic tapestry woven into Joburg’s urban landscape.

Spearheaded by the JDA Public Art Programme, the initiative has been instrumental in installing thought-provoking sculptures and murals throughout Johannesburg.

Nxumalo highlighted that public art serves more than just an aesthetic purpose.

“It fosters a sense of community pride, attracts visitors, and stimulates economic development,” he explained.

The city’s digital catalogue features detailed information and Google Maps locations for each of the over 70 meticulously documented artworks, allowing residents and tourists to embark on a self-guided art discovery tour.

“The directory gives insight into the artworks dotted around the inner city and the breadth of what they commemorate.”

The Shadow Boxer by Marco Cianfanelli

In commemoration of World Art Day, the JDA invites you to explore Joburg’s digital public artwork catalogue on the city’s arts, culture, and heritage website which features a range of artworks, including some must-see masterpieces like:

• The Eland: This towering sculpture in Braamfontein by Clive van den Berg symbolises the area’s natural heritage and the San people’s cultural significance, prompting reflection on Joburg’s environmental and spiritual history.

Installed in 2007, The Eland triggers reflection on our connection to the past and the environment.

• The Shadow Boxer: Marco Cianfanelli’s 6m steel silhouette pays homage to Nelson Mandela’s youthful spirit and unwavering fight for social justice. Strategically positioned across from the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, the sculpture’s nighttime shadow further reinforces the parallels between Mandela’s boxing prowess and his commitment to dismantling apartheid.

• The Newtown Heads: This groundbreaking public art installation of over 560 hand-carved wooden heads represents Africa’s diverse artistic traditions. Conceived as a cornerstone of Newtown’s cultural revival, the project continues to evolve, solidifying the Newtown precinct as a must-visit cultural hub.

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