A Hub for Creatives
We recently had the opportunity to visit Victoria Yards, Johannesburg in South Africa. From this visit, we came back inspired and with new creative partnerships. Victoria Yards is a pioneering architectural complex in Johannesburg with a perfect merger of urban living, artisan projects, skill and social development, and commercial establishments. We got to learn from many artists and residents on our recent visit.
We toured contemporary artist James Delaney’s studio. James creates with multiple media, including charcoal, paint, photography, and sculpture.
We especially liked his photographic series the “Body Print.” In the photos, people apply paint to bodies, while their faces obscured with paper-mâché animal masks. The artist says the series has drawn questions and discussion around gender identity, social status, age, toxic masculinity, body image, personal freedom of expression, and other issues. It did for us too.
James also has a series of outdoor sculptures call “The Wilds,” which he created for a rehabilitation project in Joburg Park. He begins the sculptures as charcoal sketches transfer to steel and laser-cut, painted and coated. We liked the sculptures, other than their evident craftsmanship, because the artist places them in unexpected places, drawing additional attention and wonder.
The Victoria Yards, Johannesburg community has an urban agriculture project where resident grows and learn to sustain various fruits and vegetables, many of which they also sell for profit. The gardens create a more independent community and a much-needed income, and steady jobs for residents.
We were impressed with the efforts put forth by way of skill-sharing at Victoria Yards, Johannesburg. Everyone who works in the community can learn and transfer skills to others. The artisans, farmers, and other skills offer apprenticeships to empower community members to learn new things and become more self-sufficient. Once they move from apprentices, they too become teachers passing their new skills to others. It’s a beautiful concept.
While we were there, one group, Seeds of Africa, organized gardening, fitness, and creative education classes and programs for children. In these classes, they taught the youths to plant seeds, perform yoga and draw creatively. We loved seeing everyone outdoors learning and sharing. As they grow the community, it’s an essential program that adults share their skills with each other and teach the children.
Just like the Aztec or the Mayans, all great societies create and display their visual arts. These are means of communication, sharing culture, and esthetic beauty. Victoria Yards is no different. There are many galleries and much art within their walls. Here, they revere art as highly as any other skill or trade. The community prides itself on seeking out and developing artists and giving them a place to showcase their efforts. It is this cultural choice that makes the future of the community seem so bright. The whole place is impressive, but we were stunned by the last few places we visited.
One was a small woodworking shop with truly incredible furniture designs and levels of sophistication unlike anything else we’d seen. It was hard to believe the skill involved in making these things from wood.
A Victoria Yards, Johannesburg Partnership
After that, we visited a local ceramics atelier, where aside from more commercial ceramics, a collective of women makes handmade sculptures. Again, like woodworking, it is hard to believe human hands can create some of these ceramics.
In conclusion, the skill, quality, and ambition of the women making these fine objects inspire us so much that collaboration was born.
To further enable these craftswomen in their work, you can now purchase these ceramics through Talk Carpet. We hope that our partnership will help these women continue to express themselves through ceramic art and provide much-needed income.
Please take a look and contact us for details.