A chance to witness creative life permeating the walls of a once neglected building at Con Hill this weekend

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

As you approach Constitution Hill complex from the west driving toward inner city Johannesburg, coming from the Parktown side, the first building you will see on the left, on Sam Hancock Street, Braamfontein, has an exterior does not look that great. In fact for the uninitiated, they might even conclude that it is one of the abandoned buildings scattered around old Johannesburg.

And with stigma attached to such building in the inner city, often taken over by the homeless and desperate, but also conveniently by the lowlifes, such as criminals, you would be excused not to look at the building twice.

Well until 2021, Transwerke indeed was one of those buildings that If you concluded by merely looking at it that it was indeed abandoned, you could have been not that very much off the mark.

But come 2021, I made my way there with much hesitance to meet then newly appointed visual artist and entrepreneurial visionary Mariapaola McGurk, who was charged with bringing life into that building by programming it with an eye to harness the city’s creativity. She had to do this under Con Hill’s artistic vision called Creative Uprising.

One year later, before she left, McGurk indeed left behind a thriving artistic community at the Creative Uprising Hub at the Transwerke building. Indeed she prevailed and transformed that building into a burst of artistic energy, where some of Johannesburg’s most creative individuals six months later called it their home. From poets, fashion designers, graphic designers and dreamers, they took occupation of this building and transformed it from a lifeless, almost abandoned old government building into a new space for creativity and experimentation by Johannesburg’s creative.

This weekend those who will attend the Open Studios.Joburg a creative visual arts festival taking place around Johanneburg’s art studios, will indeed witness what I am talking about here.

Top creative talent who currently operate within the Creative Uprising Hub (at Transwerke) will be showcasing their exceptional talent at as part of OPEN STUDIOS JOBURG – South Africa’s largest visual arts festival – taking place on May 27 & 28 from 10:30–16:00.

They will be one of 11 art buildings, spaces or projects across the historical CBD, where visitors to Open Studios are invited to meet the artists and makers, interact with their work, and enjoy a programme of exhibitions, walkabouts, performance and design.

The Creative Uprising Hub (at Transwerke) offers space to a network of creative talents who are offered affordable office space, as well as access to programmes that support their enterprises from a market access, business and product design perspective.

Housed within the historic, art-deco Queen Victoria Hospital building, the hub drives the growth of creative industries in the province, providing more jobs, more education, and more opportunities.

The Creative Hub will only be open on Saturday 27 May during the festival so don’t miss out!

Visitors will be able to explore the space and its creative talent via a shuttle service linking all sites during the event (included in the cost of tickets) to allow visitors to safely explore the city. The shuttles will move in a loop between the buildings, with transport available every 20 minutes from 10:30 until 16:00. Tickets are available on Quicket.

Dawn Robertson, CEO of Constitution Hill Precinct says: “We are delighted to be part of this incredible event that showcases not only some of Joburg’s most inspirational architecture, but also the vibrant and dynamic talents of some of Joburg’s incredible artists and creators. At the Creative Uprising Hub (at Transwerke), we believe that the creative talent who finds like-minded space within our beautiful building, are also nurtured, inspired and supported by the network that exists within our hub. We can’t wait for the rest of Joburg to catch a glimpse of what we are privileged to experience every day and engage with the incredible talent and the works and products that they create.”

The Creative Uprising (at Transwerke) talent includes:
SoulShooz: South African, eco brand shoe makers focussed on celebrating home-grown culture through up-cycling signature tyre outsole to create unique, comfortable and stylish footwear.
Film and Vinyl Club: A creative content hub founded on the expression of Ubuntu to affect positive social change through storytelling,
Leal Bob Bernstein: Home-grown animation studio.
Kha180:  Clothing and accessories designer manufacturing multifunctional clothing, Ntu Kimonos and educational accessories.
House of Diva: Producers of creatively-designed, ready-to-wear clothing.
Afrikan Swiss: Africa’s premier tailored denim brand based in Johannesburg.
Xquizified (Hector Dibokoane): Curators and promoters of the finest art through events and music compilations that mobilise young people to create a thriving culture of artists.
Studio fifti: Creators of Arthouse films; photography and TV production as well as social media marketing, art exhibitions, and film screening events.
The Arts Company Soweto: Hand pulled, limited edition print studio. If it’s art you want, you are in good company.
Arts Culture Trust: Actively serving the arts and culture sector in all nine provinces of South Africa for 28 years
Floyd Avenue Apparel: Apparel
The Other Space: A consultancy specialising in popup space offering Food,  Fashion, Fine Art, Live Music and Content Creation Services.
BE BRAVE Artspace: A Home gallery of emerging artists works.
Blvck Block: A space that opens up the art economy for those who would otherwise be left out.
Mama Kea: Mama Kea is a handcrafted African shoe, accessory and hat brand.
Tshepang Ramoba: SAMA award winning artist
Home grown Shandis: A fashion retailer that houses craftmanship of local (South African) designers, and a conduit of collaboration.
The BUZ Factor: Bespoke PR, eventing, and stakeholder management.
Awonke Group: Maintenance for Gates, and burglar guard and camera installations.
SoundBar: Music Platform

This Open Studios event was conceived by Sara Hallatt, the Director of the META foundation. The META foundation is a not-for-profit established by Sara Hallatt and David Mayers that offers a dynamic visual arts programme for artists based at Johannesburg’s creative landmark building August House studios. The foundation was formed in 2020, one month before lockdown.

The Creative Uprising (at Transwerke) is located within the Constitution Hill Precinct at Sam Hancock Street, Braamfontein<https://goo.gl/maps/4hHkmB8gbSQsbduN6>. Visitors may park in the underground parking of Constitution Hill <https://goo.gl/maps/B89ktsWtfSopwToF7> and walk down to the Hub. The shuttle which takes visitors around to the other venues, departs from the entrance to the Transwerke building.
Please be advised that the last shuttle will leave at 4pm and do one loop. If you miss that shuttle, you will need to make your own way back to your vehicle.

Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28, 2022
From 10:30 a shuttle service will operate from every venue. The shuttle service is designed as a hop-on-hop-off shuttle with two loops – in a westerly direction, and an easterly direction, allowing visitors to seamlessly move from space to space. Shuttles depart every 20 minutes. The LAST shuttle will depart from its space at 16:00 and will complete one loop. After that, guests will need to make personal use of e-hailing services.

On both days a shuttle will connect to the RMB Latitudes Art Fair at Shepstone Gardens. On Saturday, Transwerke will be the hub for transport to the Fair, and on Sunday, the shuttle will run from Living Artists Emporium.
See all parking options available to visitors at https://www.openstudios.joburg/parking


Security will be on site at all venues. The aim is to make our visitors feel as comfortable as possible.

Food and beverages will be on sale, with different studios offering different options. Please be advised that no outside alcohol, beverages or food is permitted to be brought into the venues.
For more information see: https://www.openstudios.joburg/transwerke

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