MAGNIFICENT works of art are becoming commonplace throughout the CBD, thanks mainly to the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) and its plans to beautify and uplift the city of gold.

Taking members of the media on an art tour on Tuesday, 23 February, the JDA showed off the city like it was a gallery, with a multiplicity of works on show. Here, beautification through public art has become a way of life.

A number of ground breaking pieces of art have been sprinkled around the streets of Johannesburg, such as the huge Eland in Braamfontein. Installed in 2007, the statue gazes over its stamping ground, welcoming people into the city from the north.

More recent additions to this art collection include The Angels in Doornfontein, The Cows in Transport Square, the mosaic pillars at the corner of Joe Slovo Drive and Saratoga Street in Ellis Park, and The Worker’s Memorial outside the Workers Library Museum.

According to Lael Bethlehem, the chief executive of the JDA, public art is a common trend in major cities around theworld. “With all the diverse rich artistic talent in our city it seemed this way would be the obvious way to enhance [its] beauty.”

nasrecThe sculptures in Kliptown each represent a clause in the Freedom Charter In the course of its work, the agency has built close working relationships with industry experts to ensure that the end result is all inclusive and aesthetically pleasing.

“Each artistic sculpture that is on display around the inner city has a significant meaning and its own artwork interpretation,” according to the JDA.

One with a vast store of historic meaning is Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, which has sculptures on top of the 10 pillars on the square, each representing a clause in the 1955 Freedom Charter. It was at this square that the charter was signed at a gathering of people from across the country.

All these statues were commissioned in 2003, with delivery taking place in 2007, says the JDA.

Grey in colour, each one is life-size. The artist was Usha Seerjarim, and JDA explains that the creative rationale for them is based on “memorialising the original Congress of the People depicting various aspects which concerned ordinary people, for example, education, liberty, security and freedom”.

The JDA’s own offices, in Newtown, are filled with art by emerging Joburg artists sourced through the Joburg Art Bank.

The Joburg Art Bank has a fantastic collection of art that can be leased on a 24-month basis, by corporate and residential clients.

Together, the City and the JDA are building a better Johannesburg through improving once neglected areas and painting it beautiful with public art. The JDA is a wholly owned City entity mandated to deliver successful development improvements in areas that are in decay.

Story: City of Johannesburg