Five years ago South Africa's public art sector was in such infancy we kept having to get other jobs. Now she's a bouncing baby. Bouncy like a volcanic, fragile, somewhat precarious and miraculous balloon. Sometimes there is paying work. Sometimes there is no paying work. Either way we are working. Driven by fanciful generosity, mischief and that imagination thing that won't lie down. What else is there to do? Spose we could sleep more but ... there's no time to lose. Life is fast. Join us.
The Troyeville Bedtime Story never ends.This is our most-favoured own-sponsored project, led by artists on site, Dear Johannes (from Troyeville) also on camera, and #lesfolies (from Troyeville) also on text and online, together with their neighbours (from Troyeville and the Kin Worldwide).
The story begins with a pile of rubble ...
The sculpture and the photographs of the legend on the corner of Bezuidenhout & Viljoen Street in Troyeville are by South Africa's own Johannes Dreyer. But this one, below, a highlight of the recent past, was taken by none other than David Goldblatt. He told Lesley he found it "a difficult subject" and he came back to shoot at night though we have not seen all the images. Not yet. He also said the bed triggered something in him.
The Bedtime Story, Troyeville, Johannesburg Photograph and Copyright, David Goldblatt, 8 April 2012
Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life. It's been our good fortune to manage the media liaison and publicity for this mega-exhibition about photographic practice during South African modern history. Featuring the work of over 70 South African photographers, more than 500 images, ephemera, 27 films and a book, the exhibition is on at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg until 29 June 2014. Although we don't usually work as publicists, we are privileged to have had the opportunity to spread the word into public space that this exhibition is one of the most significant visual histories in our country - ever - and we urge you to go and see it. We are also really pleased that the combination of this incredibly rich show and the coverage we have achieved has resulted in record attendance at Museum Africa.
Writer Percy Zmvuyo with photographer Omar Badsha looking at a blow-up of a photograph about The Black Sash at the exhibition in February 2014. Photograph by Masimba Sasa.
It was good but now it is over.
Cratefan Elliot in Cape Town was conceived and designed by artist Porky Hefer and produced by us with a brilliant team of scaffolders, led by a hero by the name of Elliot. Sponsored by Coca Cola for the Soccer World Cup in 2010, he was meant to be decommissioned in December 2010 but was so beloved he stayed up for three years until he decommissioned with grace. A giant pop-art man, fabricated with 36tonnes of steel scaffolding as an armature, wrapped in mesh and clad in about 4000 red crates, he looks like a lego feast on the skyline. You can read more about him and Cratefan Oupa (a similar Joburg installation that was also beloved but lost his site) by clicking here
Shoe Shop, Joburg Funded by the Goethe Institute this project is officially over but will not lie down. You can read more about it at www.shoeshopproject.co.za or read our blog of blogs for more. This image of posters destined for the street shows a series by South African photographer Thabiso Sekgala.
Alex Arts Experience, Maboneng Festival: artatwork sometimes work with a team of Alexandrians under the leadership of artist-producers Siphiwe Ngwenya and Tebogo Ramabulana, in arguably the most famous 'township' in Joburg, to assist in strategic and however-we-are-called-upon-ways with this brilliant concept that started, in 2002, as an annual arts festival in and by an Alexandra community and has, grown into a national project. Homeowners across specific districts in townships, have been giving up their homes and yards, nooks and crannies to host the works of artists across all disciplines for a short festival in which literally thousands of people participate. If you want to know how to turn goats piss into gasoline, watch this space and be in Alex in September this year.
You can read all about the Maboneng Festival here:
Joburg Art City 2014, 2016. Say it like you see it. Billed as the 'largest outdoor art exhibition in the world' Joburg Art City has a long history going back to 2002 and its 2010 Premiere, featuring the work of one Joburg-based contemporary artist, Mary Sibande, on 10 000 square metres of space normally reserved for advertising on our city skyline. The narrative through Mary's exhibition 'Long Live the Dead Queen', explores the nature of servitude through the artist's eye on three generations of her own matriarchal lineage.
Joburg Art City is about access to the arts for everyone. You can read more about the 2010 edition of the project over here, while we pursue the corridors of power for funding for the next showings. We can tell you that it may take years but you will see Joburg Art City again in your lifetime.
You need a good talking to
Lesley is exploring our world in arts-collaborations that encourage individual and community to spirited and imaginative actions in seemingly impossible circumstance. "You can have all the power you like" she says "the risk is to live well - and probably urgently - and what that might mean. It means generous renegade to me and a lot more besides. Everything is so complicated and dramatic. There's whole universes and we are nothing but we are full of it."
Info about talks and booking here.
Recently, Lesley auditioned for the main TED Conference taking place in California in February 2013 and a video of that audition is here on the TED Talent Search website. Even more recently she found out she is on The TED2013 Programme with Amanda Fucking Palmer, Peter Gabriel, Elon Musk, The Beardyman and a guy by the name of Kees Moeliker who is busy with dead ducks to name but a few. She's a bit very gleeful and looking forward.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM YESTERYEAR
Sandton Central Arts Programme (5 years from 2005 - 2010)
Open Street Sessions - annual summer programme of live street performance featuring some of the world's leading performance artists, musicians, installation hybrid types, clowns, mimes and storytellers. Took place throughout the district, mostly at lunch and commuting times. Here is some visual feasting
The BenchMark Commission - a series of benches and seats in the area, each imagined and conceived by a different artist. The whole idea was to make places to sit down in a district that notoriously narrowed its sidewalks.
The Annual Public Art Lighting Programme - The Why Men by Usha Seejarim. This you have to see.
Johanesburg Development Agency
Invented Mythologies by Anwar Doung Jahangeer - sculpture for the new Ellis Park Precinct. Partnership between JDA, City of Johannesburg and mma Architects
Jewel City public art - sculpture by Shepherd Ndudzo; seating by Theresa-Ann Mackintosh
Newtown Improvement District
A sculpture tribute to the late great muso, Kippie Moeketsi
Sunday Times Heritage Project
Over 30 sculptural works by artists living and / or working close to sites all over South Africa. Paying tribute and memorialising untold stories of our country's history in the last 100 years. Highlights include the sculpture of Brenda Fassie in Newtown, Jhb, a tribute to Bruce Fordyce in Durban and a sound-memory of the unofficial anthem 'Mannenberg' by then-Dollar Brand (now Abdullah Ibrahim) in Cape Town.
Here are some of our favourite sculptural works
For more info on these and other wonderful to catastrophic experiences we have had on the road, explore here.