Victoria Yards, Lorentzville Bez Valley

Nine hundred years of time and space, and I've never been slapped by someone's mother. Well, you're very similar heights. Maybe you should wear labels. Oh, I always rip out the last page of a book.

One of my favourite places in Joburg – Victoria Yards, Lorentzville Bez Valley.

Victoria Yards is only open on the first Sunday of every month. My sister Ann Wilson and I hit the yards with her dog Cara.

Originally built as a laundry these industrial buildings deteriorated as businesses which vacated the area. Revamped and regenerated it is buzzing with people, food stalls, local fresh food markets, galleries studios and artisanal workshops offering ceramics, glassblowing craft beer, carpentry and clothes manufacturing.

We first said Hi to Tony Esslinger and his Gin distillery Primal Spirits. They have a herb infused gin made with herbs planted in the little courtyard of the distillery and a citrus infused gin in very elegant bottles. Then we grabbed a cup of coffee at Foakes where I also bought a sour dough loaf. Veggies grow in lush beds planted down every walkway.

The developers have retained the original structures with bare brick walls exposed. A large structure houses a fresh produce market where locals sell their produce. In a long room behind this I find Steve Appiah. He has made every component of his loom with bits and pieces. The reed has been made of reed and is glued together with thick wood glue. The warp threads are long and held tightly in a weighted box.

The shuttle flies backwards and forwards as his feet dance to a co-ordinated rhythm below.

These are the articles he then makes form the woven cloth at extremely inexpensive prices considering the labour that goes into their creation.

Aren’t these fun cut-out metal sculptures in the veggie patch. Over the pathway is the glass studio with glass-blowing demonstrations.

Above is Nonny Mathe who comes from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. She first started making batiks and now has developed a very unique style of painting with acrylics and maize meal to create this highly textured feel. The bright colours focus on women’s lives in Bulawayo.

These works by Lyndi Sales are delicate and beautiful, detailed and entice you to look closely. These and the work of Abe Mathabe below are exhibited in the Art Afrique Gallery.

Abe was born in Soweto qualified as a graphic designer, studied at the Johannesburg Aty Foundation and spent 3 years at Artists Proof Studios. He sits quietly in the gallery drawing a finely detailed miniature drawing. His prints are also miniatures and exquisitely executed.

In the same gallery are the works of Phumzile Buthelezi who went back to art as a wife and mother. Her mother was a dress sample maker and would make bedspreads from scrap material. You can see that this is a major influence on her work. In a statement she says that “I am a woman, see me and not just my body. Acknowledge me accept me as I am and respect me”. This piece is called “ Just a little bit of tenderness”.

This gallery is next door to Roger Ballen the photographers’ studio but that was closed.

The collages made by Dario Manjate are beautiful. The entire back wall of his studio is piled high with magazines. I ask him if he ever gets diverted and starts to read articles instead of cutting them up and he says “yes often”.

The studio of Blessing Ngobeni was closed and the works of Ayanda Mabulu cannot be photographed but are very interesting satirical huge works executed with obvious talent.

We end off at the Daville Baillie Gallery which overwhelms you with the bright colours and number of pieces mostly pop-art in style. Comic characters, metal cut-outs, sculptures of various materials are all a sensory delight.

Peter Mammes

Don’t you just love the resin handbags by Fred Allard.

And Marilyn Monroe by Dorit Levinstein.

We went home full of bright colours ideas and inspiration. What a fun way to end the week.

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