Graffiti tour in the heart of Newtown

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As mentioned in an earlier post (My first impressions about Johannesburg), I was raring to explore what the locals call the inner city of Jo’burg. While trying to figure out how to do this without taking undue risks (I was still new in Johannesburg and had been advised by all and sundry against such expeditions especially in this part of town), I chanced upon a local tour group, Past Experiences, specialising in inner-city walking tours!

I promptly contacted them and on a beautiful Saturday morning our very excited party of eight drove to the Sci-Bono Museum on Miriam Mabeka street to meet our wonderful guide Jo Buitendach, who is actually studying graffiti as a part of her M.A thesis!

After signing an undertaking that Past Experiences could not be held liable for any loss, theft, damage to property, injury or death that might take place during any of their tours or events (!!), we followed Jo out of the ‘secure parking’ – a term widely used all over SA as one of the key selling points of any commercial establishment (another !!) – onto the streets of Newtown.

Street art & graffiti is still new in South Africa and began to grow rapidly only after the abolition of apartheid. The first stop was a local street market set against the backdrop of a wall covered with graffiti.

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Further ahead, Jo pointed out the works of famous graffiti artists and taggers such as Rasty, Faith 47, Mars, Tapz and Mr Slipperz. What was really interesting to know was that a lot of the graffiti is actually commissioned by various government agencies and are protected! Unlike in most other countries, here graffiti is not viewed as vandalism but a way to re-invent & redevelop certain parts of the city such as Newtown.

This bird-feed granary allowed artists to paint on their walls if they depicted birds.

This bird-feed granary allowed artists to paint on their walls if they depicted birds.

Tagged by Taps!

Tagged by Taps!

These pillars are re-painted every year by different groups as a part of the graffiti festival

These pillars are re-painted every year by different groups as a part of the graffiti festival

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Public expression against police brutality

Public expression against police brutality

The 2-hour long tour took us through several small alleys and streets and showed us a beautiful facet of Newtown, which has since become a favourite haunt.

The purpose of life, after all, is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear
for newer and richer experience.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt~

6 thoughts on “Graffiti tour in the heart of Newtown

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