Victoria Yards brings renewed spirit to Bertrams

The iconic Victoria Yards tank.

Bertrams and Lorentzville are a part of Joburg that has been forgotten but yet these areas are full of potential.

At the corner of Victoria Road and Viljoen Street, people have noticed that something is brewing and it brings a feeling that positive change is coming.

Thirty thousand square metres of industrial space is being turned into a business and art community.

The Victoria Yards project is the dream of Brian Green.

He wanted to create a space for artisans, musicians, artists and the community where they can come together to share skills and trade.

The Stitch women, Phumzile Nkosi and Phoebe Nabulumbi show off their beautiful work.

The EXPRESS took the opportunity to visit this beautiful space that people have been talking about to find out what makes it special.

As you walk through the gate you are welcomed by a pathway that makes you want to keep on walking and discover every inch of the space.

Also read: Exclusive video tour of Victoria Yards, Bertrams

Chann de Villiera is the space facilitator at Victoria Yards.

Chann is from the community of Bertrams and said she is excited to see such a development happening in the area because it will benefit the people.

Victoria Yards space facilitator Chann de Villiera talks about the gardening that is being done in the yard.

“The development aims to empower the surrounding community through the skills development of artisans, and wants to ensure that the facilities are accessible and inclusive,” said Chann.

She said most of the space is already filled and they are just waiting to finish the reconstructions.

One of the things that catches the eye, is the charming building with its industrial look. Project leaders found a way to use the existing structure and have worked around it.

Also read: Young man owes it all to Bertrams school

“We did not want to take away the building’s look so we broke down a few walls and did some revamping. We’ve taken what’s remained and really based a lot of the reconstruction on those remaining elements,” explained Chann.

There are some interesting corners that have been turned into beautiful spaces.

The Zulu inspired Impi Brewing at Victoria Yards has created an interesting bar out of crates.

The yard is bustling with all the construction that is still happening but some galleries see people busy setting up while others are already busy in their workshops.

Some of the artists who are already occupying a space include the controversial Ayanda Mabulu who welcomes visitors to his workspace where he shares insight about his next art piece he is working on.

In another small but beautiful area is Smelt, a glass studio where they do glass blowing.

Also read: Bertrams flats gets fencing

There you will meet Thabiso Makabu and Stephen Mofokeng who will allow you to sit a while and watch them work.

“This is what Victoria Yards is all about – allowing people the opportunity to share skills, to learn and see how an item is made before it becomes a beautiful piece,” said Chann.

The beautiful pathway.

Everyone greets each other with a smile. It’s a community whose members welcome you into their spaces and allow you to learn something from them.

Tshepo “the jean maker” is excited to meet visitors.

He makes jeans from scratch and said his jeans are his art pieces because they tell a story.

Women from ‘Stitch’ – a social fabric enterprise in aid of Bethany Home for abused women – use their space for free to promote their beautiful sewing work.

The controversial artist Ayanda Mabulu.

“Stitch will be here for a couple of months using this space for free. This is part of our project of giving back to NGOs in the community,” said Chann.

One of the things you will easily fall in love with is the urban gardening that is happening in the yard.

All over the yard different types of herbs, veggies and flowers have been planted and have placards explaining what plant it is. All of them will form part of the educational tours they plan to have in the future.

When you walk out of Victoria Yards your spirit will have been renewed knowing that even in the most forgotten places, positive change is possible.

Impi Brewing has the touch of Zulu pride. Tshegofatso Madonsela with Vivian Khoza and George Mukunza.

  AUTHOR
Busi Vilakazi

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