Anyone following my blog would have realised by now how much I love to hang out in the inner city, and when its to do with graffiti, how could I stay away! Last week saw the launch of Graffiti South Africa, a graffiti and street art book by Cale Waddacor. In conjunction with the launch, my favourite tour company Past Experiences, conducted a graffiti tour of Braamfontein! Its the same company with whom I had done a Newtown tour back in 2013.
The tour was to begin at the Kalashnikovv Gallery and since a large crowd was expected, Jo, from Past Experiences, had split us up in two groups. They usually run small tours but since this was a once-off, the group was rather large. Both groups were to have a graffiti artist leading it in addition to the guide! I was really excited about this as I had never met a real graffiti artist before.
Having completed all the formalities, the tour started a little after 10am on Saturday. Our guide was the wonderful Jo and George a.k.a Mars, whose graffiti can be seen all over town. The other group was led by Ray, who is knows as Bias in the graffiti world.
Just like Newtown, the streets, corners and building facades of Braam are dotted with colorful art, a lot of them having been painted by international artists such as Shepard Fairey, an American artist who painted the huge mural of Nelson Mandela, and Pose.
George explained that the reason why graffiti thrives in the inner city is because people are more open about it and are willing to give their walls to the artists free of charge. In addition, the area has a lot of students and graffiti shops and galleries that further encourage this art form.
Just around the corner from the Wits Museum, we found an entire alley and several walls painted in colorful graffiti, some old some new. The artist that really caught my eye was Veronika. He is known for his paintings of women, alien figures and the space ships! We saw a lot of work of local artists like Rasty and Tapz.
Jo had saved Mars’s best work for last, and just below the Nelson Mandela bridge was this vivid and utterly eye catching graffiti in bright blue, shades of green and pink. I absolutely loved the big toothy smile of the character depicted.
So a good 90 mins after the tour started, completely satiated with the street art in the area, we arrived back at the gallery to see some of the work on sale. Most of the good pieces were already sold so with a note to self about keeping an eye out for more such exhibits, we headed to the Neighbourgoods Market for a much deserved lunch.