In my mind it was always an inspiring concept. An area of urban regeneration in a pocket of downtown Johannesburg. One gradually returning to its former glory. Just much hipper. Renovated buildings with a fresh and progressive perspective. Brave tenants opening top art galleries, bioscopes, fashion shops, cafes and restaurants. Yet nothing could have prepared me for the visual delight of personally walking these streets, camera in hand on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The reward far exceeded anything I could have imaged. Bright, clean, vibrant – this is home to a thriving community that embraces Johannesburg’s optimism, her visitors from around the world and inspires us to dream.
Meaning ‘Place of Light’, Maboneng is exactly that. Heightened by the beautiful people stylishly turned out. Laughing and confidently living to the full. There are bicycles and side street cafe’s. Street art decorating walls, sculptures adding character everywhere that you look.
Look up. Look down. Look around.
Colour your love.
Meeting the car guard and the cities painted cats.
Everywhere – street art!
Chalk and wish boards to make your mark.
Painted plates on a wall in Berea Street.
Green pockets for outside lunches.
Bikes for hire and walking tours with Main Street Walks.
Some of the main attractions include the Bioscope, their very own independent cinema. Arts on Main, a hub for Johannesburg’s creative community including David Krut Publishing. A short walk from the centre is the Collector’s Treasury. The largest second hand bookstore in the Southern hemisphere. Books stacked everywhere, LP’s, sheet music, maps, porcelain and postcards. This place is heaven for the collector – you will need time.
Also Market on Main which happens every Sunday at Arts on Main, as well as a Night Market on the first Thursday of each month. This is top class food and design market, Market On Main is a metropolis of culinary experts, ambitious food entrepreneurs and food lovers. Picnic under the olive trees while enjoying Ethiopian, Moroccan, Chinese, Italian and Indian food. Typical South African dishes also ensure that visitors leave with a real flavour of what South Africa has to offer.
The design and vintage section upstairs includes locally designed furniture, clothing, accessories and craft.
The view across the inner city skyline to rooftop bars and balcony gardens.
Child in a car which doubles up as a coffee shop.
The AdidasZA car on the side of the road.
Children playing in the street. Like it used to be.
A man walks back from Church on a Sunday.
Also look out for leading designer Jacques van der Watt’s fashion designs labelled Black Coffee. NewBrow is another fashion label creating pieces in collaboration with artists such as Willem Boshoff and Mileta Postic. Proudly Made in Maboneng and sold within a 5km radius. LoveJozi mixes urban fashion with social consciousness. And my favourite, I was shot in Joburg which started as a community project in June 2009 working with a group of 15 students from Twilight Children a shelter for street children in Hillbrow. Each was given a camera and taught to capture what they saw …
Entertainment venues, loft apartments, offices, hotels, backpackers and creative factory spaces are connecting this urban environment. Bottled, bursting, ambiance.
I feel like I belong here. I want to be able head down on a weekend for lovingly produced food and craft beer. To follow Instawalks that capture painted walls and leading street fashion.
Actually I couldn’t resist and on a return visit this week I met with one of the property developers to learn about the logistics of acquiring a tiny urban nest. City breakaways to an area like this ever appeal to a girl who lives in the country. I’m just trying to figure out how my dogs would fit into the plan. Until I do there’s the 12 Decades Hotel and Curiocity Backpackers to stay at.
This area certainly feels like the real Africa I love. It smacks of optimism, hope and a very bright future. A little like the African fabrics that seem ever present in my wardrobe and on the streets. I’m saying Urban Weekend Getaway. And I’m saying it out loud. Today I was asked if I could live in Johannesburg and without hesitation, I said yes. What have you done to me my City of Gold.