This dilapidated building in the gritty suburb of Lorentzville was once a light industrial complex. Over the years it became derelict and the urban decay set in. Then fast forward to 2017 and in steps Brian Green who has given it a new lease on life, from Group 44 he was behind 44 Stanley avenue and Maboneneg . He has worked hard at transforming this gabled brick building that housed the New York Steam Laundry from 1913 and at the same time keeping its rough industrial appearance. The grandly named New York Steam Laundry limited was established in 1903 and serviced the mining and cotton nappy business but the end of the 30’s the surrounding suburbs changed and with this the laundry business was no longer needed . The building has had its fair share of tenants over the years including chop shops.

The Yards is now home to various artisans and craft people who work in a spacious homely environment creating their works of art and at the same time receive inspiration by being surround by like minded people.

What made me excited was seeing the urban agricultural project. Fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables are grown around the property and then sold to the general public as well as the tenants. Across the road at the Nando’s head office is where the source of the Jukskei River can be found, it surfaces in their property and runs through to Victoria Yards.The organic tomatoes and enormous sized brinjals brought out the child in me and I was tempted to pick them. This is not for the general public though as job creation goes hand in hand with this farming project , the gardeners take pride in their flourishing beds and the delicious looking food that they produce, so rather book your box of fresh, edible Victoria Yards veggies and let the knowledgeable folk pick whats best .

Not only does one find small and upcoming artists , you will also be surprised at the amount of prominent galleries taking residence here. Strolling along the winding pathways you will come across the gallery of James Delaney and his dog Pablo. This contemporary painter and printmaker has had just over 20 group and solo exhibitions in South Africa and the USA. He is also known for his love of the The Wilds Park and has installed 67 of his stainless steel cut out owls. The Daville Baillie Gallery is a personal favourite with the brightly coloured pop art exhibitions, each time I go to the yards I cant resist a pop in to see the large red telephone booth and two larger than life brightly coloured chairs. Currently they are showcasing an exhibition called Big Bang and Butterflies.The Tshepo Jean Maker is another good one especially as I am the girl in blue jeans, I am always on the look out for new and funky jean creations.

Daville Baille gallery
James Delaney studio

The first Sunday of the month is “ open Sunday “ and this is when all the studios and restaurants open their studio doors for the public to take a peak at the behind the scenes operations. It normally runs from 10h00 until 15h00. The Impi Craft brewery can serve you one of their fine craft beers, the Foakes roaster makes a mean sourdough bread and the good old Fish and chips shop brings back childhood memories of the corner Greek cafes who were renowned for their slap chips drenched in vinegar and fried fish.

This is an ever growing project that not only supports artists and their big dreams but also the local community and their dreams of of being sustainable in what ever they do, in order to feed their families and better educate themselves. Projects of this nature is what is needed to give the decaying inter city and surrounding suburbs a new lease of life and a boost into bringing this amazing city of gold back to the fore front of tourism.

Address : 16 Viljoen street Lorentzville Johannesburg

Open : 7 days a week 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm
However this is not a shopping venue so don’t be surprised when artists doors are closed. They also need time to be alone and think in order to create.