Newtown Graffiti and Heritage Walk
Introduction, and a brief History of Graffiti
Hello and welcome. I am an independent Graffiti artist, Archaeologist and tour guide, and I go by the alias, ‘Bias’. Joburg is my hometown, and I’ve been putting my work on the walls here for the last decade. I would like to share part of my world with you today on this walk around Newtown. Before we start, it’s important to mention that graffiti is very transient, and ever-changing. I’ve made every effort to keep an eye on the area and keep the tour up-to-date. But there’s always a chance that the work I’m talking about has been changed or removed. The story itself is still relevant, so it won’t be too much of a problem, but if you do notice changes, please let me know by commenting on the route, either in tha app or on voicemap.me.
The walk starts from the parking lot of the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre on Miriam Makeba Street. If you are facing the entrance turn to your right and you should notice a large park. Walk down to the park’s edge, towards the row of wooden heads.
Graffiti as we know it started in the late 60’s, and was mainly used by activists bent on making political statements. One of the first people to be identified by the public as what we graffiti artists term a ‘writer’ was Taki 183 from Washington Heights. Taki was simply a nickname and 183 was the street number where he lived. He was a foot messenger and left his name wherever he went.
From the mid 70’s to late 80’s Graffiti artists started to develop uniquely individual and more elaborate wordplay. Artists from the five boroughs of New York started displaying their work on the most unique walls of the city: the New York Subway cars. Many of these early artworks formed the very foundations of graffiti culture today. In South Africa, graffiti only really began after the end of apartheid, so we’re about twenty years behind. But more and more people are starting to explore the potential of eye catching and colourful artworks to bring life to their cities.