There’s a famous line from The Truman Show, ‘We accept the reality of the world with which we're presented.’ Local street artist and muralist, Jono Hornby, has been playing with this idea since he was 11, and over the last decade, he’s been changing the landscape of public space in Hilton.
If you were to drive down Hilton Avenue over the past couple of weeks, you’d have seen Hornby clambering energetically up a scaffolding gripping a bag of spray cans and dodging a nest of feisty starlings. Every morning, a bit more of the mural appeared, revealing a veritable riot of imagination resplendent with a Lego man, a T-rex, and more colour than you can shake a stick at. But behind the scenes, Hornby had other tricks up his trademark purple jacket sleeves.
Hornby’ newest endeavour is Gallery ZAZA. You’d be fooled into thinking that it’s a blank space to wax lyrical and chew the proverbial cud, while gripping a glass of chardonnay and reaching for some crudites adorned with curly parsley. Hornby purposefully wants to inject a new dynamic into how we perceive and engage with art. In a nutshell, it’s about inclusivity, not exclusivity. Hornby explains, ‘Art should be public, and public space needs to be inclusive and artistic. Art is how we include people, question what’s wrong with society, and find ways to promote change and human rights. Creativity is about collaboration and throwing everything that you have to solve problems.’
Gallery ZAZA is a social enterprise that celebrates the complexities of what it means to be South African. The gallery itself is split in half by audacious rainbow stripes, and Hornby and his team purposefully sourced local artists for the opening exhibition who have his same flair for vibrancy and colour. Art is life, and life is technicolour.
Art is also about home, which is the theme for the opening exhibition. This is important for Hornby who is a very proud Hiltonian. The Home exhibition interrogates how we make and forge ourselves at home, and the deep connections we have with it. Home is rooted in nostalgia, and we engage with it through storytelling and memory. The assemblage of home can be a tricky one, and home doesn’t always have happy memories. The artists communicate and grapple with the geography, history, and symbol of their understandings of home.
However, the gallery is more than just four walls to hang and exhibit paintings. The gallery is a hub and a connection point; in short it’s a place for the community to connect. That’s why Gallery ZAZA is promising calendar events such as documentary film screenings, storytelling evenings, “Spread the Jam” where musicians can perform in an intimate space, ZAZA Lager and food pairings, and a range of workshop events to encourage and nurture local talent.
Art also inspires magic, which is the reason behind Gallery ZAZA’s Letter Quest, and Grand Opening bonanza. The Letter Quest was a social media and public space treasure hunt to get the community used to the idea of deciphering clues and exploring Hilton. This is because Hornby and his partner Jaqui Hiltermann are working on an exciting App to combine art, storytelling, adventure, and public space. Magic was central to Saturday’s opening, and Hilton’s weather system lived up to, “if you hire a stretch tent, you’re in for it”. Despite the rain, hail, and power outage, the community really came to the party and revelled in the day. As Hiltermann explains, ‘Hiltonians have a history of seeing potential, as if looking through the mist and imagining what lies beyond it. And it’s up to us to create, to build, to explore, to play, and to throw glitter, confetti, and magic markers at every single problem.’
The reality of Hilton is that it’s easy to get bogged down by the mist and drizzle and the very unstable electricity supply. The purpose of Gallery ZAZA is to inject a sense of colour, and to nurture the enthusiasm that is bubbling below the surface. Hiltermann reminds us, ‘Hilton is home, and now things are appearing, not disappearing, as if by utter magic. It’s up to us, we can appear, or we can disappear.’
Gallery ZAZA is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 9:00 to 17:00. The gallery is closed on Mondays.
More about Gallery ZAZA