Contra.Joburg Reinvents the Creative City Experience

Returning with a new brand and expanded concept, South Africa’s largest open studios event will showcase over 170 artists across 13 studio spaces in Johannesburg on May 25 and 26

By James Sey

META Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Joburg’s famous August House Studios building and run by Sara Hallatt, pioneered the Open Studios Joburg concept in the last couple of years, the idea being to open up the city’s creative studio spaces to visitors to coincide with official Art Fairs elsewhere in the city.

Open Studios has now relaunched under a new brand and expanded concept. Contra.Joburg is South Africa’s largest open studios event. In its first year in 2022, the initiative welcomed more than 2 100 people to 11 spaces across the city, providing access to more than 100 artists in their working studio spaces.

The rebranded Contra.Joburg opens its doors to Joburg’s art world on May 25. Visitors can expect an exciting two-day programme, including a total of 13 artist’s studio spaces around the city. New spaces added to the Contra experience this year include a studio complex downtown at 11 Alexander Street. The studio spaces are wildly diverse, and this year Contra’s shuttle scheme offers a way to safely tour and experience the old inner city of Joburg. They range from the venerable old Rand Club, now reimagined as a trendy bar and art hub as well as one of the most important heritage sites in the inner city; to the largest artist’s studio space in the CBD, August House. Other well-known sites include the Bag Factory Studios in Fordsburg, and Victoria Yards in Lorenztville, a neighbour of the headquarters of one of Contra’s main sponsors, Nando’s. Other sponsors getting behind this important initiative are iTOO ArtInsure and Yoco.

Contra is also collaborating with the RMB Latitudes Art Fair, coordinating their programming to enhance the Art Fair’s offering, and planning overlapping shuttle routes. The two days of the Contra event have two different routes through the city on each day, with around 170 artists participating in total. Common across both days is a full programme of exhibitions, walkabouts, performances, and demonstrations. However, programming is different each day. The studio spaces will all be linked via a shuttle service, included in the cost of the ticket, which will allow visitors to safely explore the city.


The programme lines up as follows:

Studio spaces on Saturday 25 May:

11 Alexander Street

Bag Factory Artists’ Studios


The Rand Club

Play Braamfontein

The Creative Uprising (at Transwerke)


Selected participating artists on Saturday include well-known names like Bev Butkow, Phumulani Ntuli, Kagiso Pat Mautloa and Tamara Osso.

Studio spaces on Sunday 26 May: 

Asisebenze Art Atelier

August House

Ellis House

Living Artist Emporium


Victoria Yards

Selected artists on show on this day will include Fumani Maluleke, Blessing Blaai and James Delaney.

Contra will take place across the city on May 25 and 26 from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Tickets for each day’s programme are available here:

Saturday 25 May

Sunday 26 May.

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