Nick and I have owned a home in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg for about 11 years.  And for a considerable number of said years, we have driven up 7th Avenue in Parktown North, over Jan Smuts and on to Tyrwhitt Avenue – en route to one of our most familiar Jozi haunts:  Rosebank Mall.

I’m not a mall person at the best of times.

I’ve developed somewhat of a loathing for the bling-encrusted corridors of these enclosed, artificial halls of consumerism.

But see… Rosebank Mall remains of interest for two reasons:  firstly, it attracts a wonderfully diverse crowd of humans and is a people-watching paradise of note.  And secondly, it has an appendice called The Zone.  And, as it happens, The Zone @ Rosebank has an outdoor pavillion with open courtyards, (real) trees… and the following  Costaras Family magnets:

  1.  Tashas (for our regular, comfort-zone selection of great coffee and best-ever Mac ‘n Cheese)
  2. Herbert Evans art store (the widest range of professional, albeit expensive, art supplies in Joburg)
  3. Lush (the store that sells all the ethically-produced, yummy-smelling bath & body products).  I’m a sucker for their oddly named “It’s Raining Men” shower gel.
  4. The Space – sells locally made fashion (my favourite is Amanda Laird Cherry).  Nick buys his denim from there – and I also like to poke around their selection of gifts and oddities.

Suffice to say… many a Sunday has seen the four of us happily ensconced at The Zone… sipping cappuccinos and people-watching at Tashas while the kids build Lego figurines or draw in my art journals .  It has become one of our Jozi staples.

But, of course, there’s so much more to Rosebank than the mall!

A couple of blocks away is Keyes Avenue.  We have always driven over Keyes Avenue, en-route to the Zone.   But last weekend… for the first time… we turned left on to Keyes.

And discovered a whole new world.

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On the corner of Keyes and Jellicoe – is a trio of inspiring creative spaces;  the Circa Gallery… the Everard Read Gallery… and the new  Trumpet building.

The parking is a bit of a bitch, but once you’re out the car – you can stroll around, explore and spend a couple of very happy hours surrounded by… really, really good… South African art, architecture and design.

Last weekend, I attended a gallery opening at the Trumpet.

Southern Guild (focusing mainly on furnishings and design) and WHATIFTHEWORLD (focusing on contemporary fine art)… are two established galleries based in Woodstock, Cape Town.  Recently, they decided to team up and share a space in Rosebank’s Trumpet…

There’s a whole load of lustables displayed in their space.  I especially liked Porky Hefer’s black hole human-nest.  He did a hanging killer whale nest once…  and I lusted after that too!

I love unusual creations.  I’m always attracted to the kind of art that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Southern Guild showcases Porky’s wonders as well as an eclectic range of African artists who create everything from flowy, nature-inspired pieces… to satirical, politically-inspired statement-creations.  Apart from Porky,  I’m a huge fan of Conrad Botes.  His art makes some… strong… statements about taboo topics like religion and politics and he inspires me to be… braver… than I am.

Another pleasant surprise came in the form of the boldly painted cabinets and servers – created by Dokter and Misses.  I have long drooled over their quirky, metal cabinets and desks… and had (mistakenly) pigeon-holed them into that single style.  As it turns out, they’re shapeshifters too… and their work is diverse, imaginative and un-boxable (like many of us creative creatures, methinks).

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The servers are by Dokter and Misses… the photos are by Lakin Ogunbanwo from his “Are we good enough” series.

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Some of the artists represented by Southern Guild…

Apart from housing the shared gallery of Southern Guild and WHATIFTHEWORLD… the Trumpet building (apparently built in the shape of a trumpet, so Mia from the gallery tells me)… is neighbour to the Circa Gallery.

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I took a casual stroll up their winding staircase (a work of art in itself)… and eventually found myself right on top of the building … where there awaited comfy chairs, a lovely collection of sculls, art, ceramics… and a fantastic view over Jozi’s many treetops.  (We are one of the greenest cities in the world, apparently.  With over 10 million trees, a view from somewhere like the Circa rooftop – or the Westcliff Hotel – feels like you’re hovering atop a green carpet).

Opposite the Circa Gallery, guarded by an impressive array of statues… including a giant, sideways head (by Andries Botha) – is the Everard Read Gallery.  And down the road – near the other end of Keyes Avenue – is one of South Africa’s best-known contemporary art galleries:  the Goodman Gallery – so, like I say:  lots of art, design and architecture to explore on Keyes Art Mile.

Here’s a photo of the head:

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Once you’ve had your fill of art, architecture and design… you can stop in for a bite at two new eateries (happily housed in the Trumpet… with tables spilling out into an open-air, tree-lined promenade).

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I chose the ever-delightful Milk Bar – decorated with all kinds of treasures from around the continent.   I ordered a steak pie (made with light, flaky puff-pastry… not the heavy shortcrust kind) which arrived on a hunk of wood with a side salad-in-a-jar.  And a cup of good coffee.  (I read somewhere that the Milk Bar’s pies and pastries are supplied by Moema’s… which would explain their deliciousness!).

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After a lovely morning on Keyes Art Mile, I remembered again (what I tend to forget when I remain comfortably ensconced in my same-ol’ hang-outs and hideaways);  there is so much… MORE… out there!

There’s so much to see, experience and do – beyond the familiar boundaries of our comfort zones.    And I think I’m going to challenge myself… and get out there to explore the world around me.   Whether it’s my own neighbourhood… or whether it’s unexplored, unfamiliar territory around the country (and around the world).

And I’ll share the journey with you guys… and feel free to share your stories with me too!

PS:  We’re going back to Durban tomorrow – for a few more weeks.  If you’re a Durbanite – and you have some suggestions of interesting, unique, not-the-normal spaces, restaurants, coffee shops, parks, galleries, whatever – please point me in the right direction (either in the comments below – or e-mail me)…

Hat x