The building was bought by a young property developer, and Maboneng local Sisa Ntuli, and partners in the major auction of many Maboneng buildings that took place in 2019. The new owners have bought the building with a vision of transforming it into a multi-functional, collaborative space, a kind of artistic compound in the neighbourhood housing an art gallery, coffee shop, performance space, artist studios, exhibition spaces, cafe, co-working space and more.
Supporting the arts is in the DNA of the vibrant Maboneng Precinct. Ever since the revitalised neighbourhood first emerged in early 2010, a focus on promoting contemporary art, street art, music, film and theatre has been a unifying theme for this colourful neighbourhood that now expands over many city blocks on the eastern edge of the Joburg City Centre.
The Anthill's first activation was supporting the inaugural independent curator-led Underline Art Fair which took place here in Spring 2019, later followed by a number of pop-ups, concerts and the launch of the contemporary art gallery, Gallery Fanon. Then came the pandemic of course and after being forced to close for many months in mid-2020, The Anthill has finally burst back to life in Spring 2020.
The entrance to the building is on Albrecht Street, opposite the heritage building The Cosmopolitan and in the soaring entrance space there is now a friendly little coffee bar which leads into the expansive contemporary art gallery, Gallery Fanon, where there is a particular emphasis on promoting the works of Joburg-based artists.
In addition to the art gallery, also now open every week on Saturdays is a new curated market experience, the Artisan Weekly, a space for local young entrepreneurs selling everything from clothing and accessories to books and horticulture. Open from 10:00 to 21:00 there's also a selection of food stalls, as well as a bar, craft gin tastings and an art exhibition space.
Other arts-centric projects under construction in the building include an underground live music venue (due to open in early 2021) and a vinyl record shop which promises one of the biggest selections of rare vinyls in the country, from the estate of the late Swazi Werner who used to own the Zebra Inn bar across the street.
Meanwhile, The Anthill's underground film screenings, The Bantuscope, are already running on a weekly basis, showcasing feature and documentary films that focus on contemporary Africa and South Africa.
If you are looking for a chilled escape from the busy-ness of the streets of Maboneng, ask for directions (it's not easy to find on your own) to the wonderful hidden courtyard Eden Poolside, the jewel in the crown of this deceptively large building.
Reached via an internal car park and down a small alleyway, the sunny Eden Poolside courtyard cafe-bar has a small splash pool surrounded by pool loungers and is definitely one of Maboneng's best-kept secrets. The Eden Poolside has a bar with a light food menu and on a steaming hot Joburg summer day dipping your feet in the pool while sipping a glass of bubbly is a brilliant way to cool off. In the coming months they will also be opening a small Day Spa making for an even more relaxing space.
Just make sure to arrive early to save your spot on one of the sunloungers!
Gallery Fanon and the coffee shop is open 10:00–17:00, Sun 10:00–15:00, Mon by appointment only.
The Artisan Weekly Fair takes place every Saturday from 10:00–21:00.
Eden Poolside is open 10:00–18:00, closed Sun. Call + 27 81 070 6456 to make reservations.