Wits University

I snapped the image above from the Station Street entrance of the Braamfontein East Campus  - exiting the Wits gates. Photo taken on Sunday 17th November 2019. It reminded me of how much of a city university Wits is and how layered the city is in the buildings around us. 
 
In the foreground are the old corrugated iron semi-detached workers cottages (now the Performing Arts Administration of Wits’ School of Arts). This was once a home of an artisan - we know they were here as artisan’s residences of turn of the 20th century Braamfontein. 
 

Many readers will have heard the wonderful news that Herbert Prins received the Wits University Gold Medal last week (28 March 2019). The heritage community salutes a living legend! Below is the full citation.

Mr Herbert Prins is a distinguished architect and one of South Africa’s most eminent authorities in the field of architecture, design and heritage. He is renowned for his work in heritage objects conservation, a relatively new field, for which the modalities of practice are still being established.

For reasons that I have never fully understood, between about 1968 and 1972, the Wits campus underwent a period where posters of all colours and sizes proliferated, advertising everything from Rag Ball to intervarsity rugby, from Nusas teach-ins to visiting lecturers, and from Fresher’s Reception to rock and roll festivals. Every now and again the apartheid thugs that ran the country would provoke a rash of political posters, and the SRC elections were always an active time for poster artists.

Phillip Tobias passed away in 2012 aged 87. Lucille Davie was lucky enough to sit down with him in 2009 and chat about his remarkable life. Below is an article she wrote after the in-depth interview. It was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 19 November 2009. Click here to view more of Davie's work. The image above shows the Tobias bust at the Sterkfontein Caves.

The William Cullen Library is a much loved landmark on Wits University's East Campus. It was built in 1934 on the west side of the Library Lawns and houses a vast number of valuable collections. The article below, compiled by Rowallan Hugh Fitchett, traces the architectural history of the building. It was originally published in a mid1990s edition of Between the Chains, the journal of the Johannesburg Historical Foundation.

In or around 1970, when the Department of Dramatic Art was about to open the following year, I was visited by John van Zyl and Art de Villiers, who had been appointed to the staff of the Dramatic Art Department.  They were in a bit of a panic because notwithstanding that the Department was opening in a matter of a few weeks, no provision had been made for a performing venue.

 

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