I live in Jeppestown, a former industrial area on the eastern edge of Joburg’s CBD that is currently undergoing an ‘urban regeneration’ project aimed at ‘bringing people back to the city’.

The statement assumes that there weren’t people living there before. That the Zulu men, who still travel from their hustles in town, don’t exist and that the businesses which have been operating here before 2010 (when the Maboneng Precinct undertook its gentrification operation) weren’t around.

Part of the problem with gentrification – and there are many – is that it creates an imagined ‘new’ which isn’t rooted in acknowledging and including that which came before. It’s a big-ass erasure project where people are expected to believe that it’s all good, and new, in the hood. But enough of that.

The street art tours undertaken as part of one company’s street walks have, as far as I’m aware, failed in exposing people to the walls beyond Maboneng’s confines. This part of town is generally run down; there are a number of abandoned buildings with great walls laying bare; artists, here and in Troyeville, either stay up by filling vast spots with their tags, or paint murals. The City of Gold festival, an urban street-art event which happens every year, has Jeppestown as one of the areas where artists, both SA-based and from elsewhere around the world, can come and paint their truths over a week-long period.

I realised that some monumental pieces will continue to come and go without being seen. Besides some old white folk who flock into the city on Saturday mornings with their cameras on ‘guided walks’ to perform their anthropological missions, there isn’t a lot I’m aware of being done to document the new works popping up on the regular. So I decided to do something about it by photographing not only the pieces, but noting the street corners on which they can be found and the names of the artists who put them up. Below is a selection of images, and text giving a bit of background to the scene.

Pastel was a Durban-based artist who passed away earlier in 2015. This is one of the pieces he painted while on his missions in Joburg.
Nomad is a Joburg-based artist and drummer. On the right is a mural he painted as part of City Of Gold 2014 (he's since made adjustments). On the left is the intersection at which the piece can be found.
Left: Canadian artist Mediah has been holding it down for 20 years as a multidisciplinary visual artist. Here, he holds the sketch to his City Of Gold 2015 mural while surveying the wall he'll be painting. Right: The completed piece by Mediah.
Every Saturday, Shembe adherents gather at an open space in Jeppestown and conduct their worship session. Here, men can be seen gathered at one end while women and children are on the other. Some art features in the background.
Left: Joburg-based multidisciplinary artist Breeze laying out the foundation for his piece during City Of Gold 2015. Right: The people who live around Jeppestown posing in front of Breeze's almost-finished piece.
Collaborative mural by by artists Fuzzy Slipperz and Nolan Dennis (based between Joburg and Cape Town) and Skubalisto (based in Cape Town). This piece is a snippet of a trip they undertook in 2014 to paint walls in countries around the SADC region.
Artist Mr Fuzzy Slipperz paints a piece for the Robert Sobukwe wall inside one of the buildings in Jeppestown.
Adnate's a Melbourne-based artist known widely for his portraits of Aboriginal people. The picture on the left is him starting work on the finished mural of a girl he took a portrait of while in South Africa for City Of Gold 2015. The finished mural is on the right hand side.
Left: World-renowned artist Above floats on a crane while mapping out his piece for City Of Gold 2015 Right: The finished piece by Above (left) and Cape Town-based artist and graf OG Falko's piece (from City Of Gold 2014) on the right. Above's piece took an entire week to paint, and is said to be his largest mural to date.

The fascinating part about having these works going up is seeing how people interact with them. While photographing Breeze’s piece, for instance, it was intriguing to witness the deep connection felt by the locals, most of whom are from the rural parts of the KwaZulu Natal province.

They’d take a moment from wherever it is they were going in order to admire it; some even posing for pictures using their mobile phones. As Breeze said while working on it: ‘I adapt my work to the environment that I’m working in.’ People’s reaction is evidence enough that he nailed it.