Arts, Culture & Heritage

Battle of Ellis Park Mosaic

Last Updated: September 26, 2023
Artist

Spaza Art Gallery

A Brief History

The Battle of Ellis Park was part of the White Mineworkers Strike of 1922, known as the Rand Revolt. White miners went on strike against the Smuts government to protest against the presence of cheap black labour on the mines which the white miners believed was undercutting their wages. The strike gave rise to a battle on the street around what is now the Ellis Park precinct. The soldiers were busy getting lunch when the strikers fired on them from the hedges and houses overlooking the field. Within minutes the field was strewn with dead and wounded. The strikers had very few rifles so were able to exploit a victory through surprise, courage and hand guns.

The project took place on the anniversary of some of the most violent attacks against foreign nationals in the Greater Ellis Park Precinct. Many of the women taking part in the project were returnees from refugee camps set up during the 2008 xenophobic violence — establishing a resonance between the theme of the artwork and the participants in the project.

The artwork was developed out of a partnership between Spaza Art Gallery and the Khula Udweba Community Arts Centre in Bertrams managed by the Curriculum Development Project Trust. The JDA commissioned Spaza Art Gallery to do the mural, and the CDP Trust’s unemployed women’s groups were identified to receive hands-on training and earn income from the making of the mosaic mural.

The Ellis Park Precinct development resulted in the upgrade of the historic houses on Erin Street, one of which ‘hosts’ the Miners’ Strike mosaic.

Description

Commemoration of the 1922 Miners Strike and anniversary of violent attacks against foreign nationals within Ellis Park precinct.

The 42 square metre mural depicts the Battle of Ellis Park, which happened close to where the mural is located — now The Ellis Park Arena (formerly Standard Bank Arena and often known as the Ellis Park Indoor Arena).

Striking miners are depicted in black and grey attacking soldiers of the Imperial Light Horse Regiment.

The window in the middle was resolved by suggesting the building was on fire. The red flames are the only colour in the work.

Artwork Signage

The Battle of Ellis Park was part of the White Mineworkers Strike of 1922, known as the Rand Revolt. White miners went on strike against the Smuts government to protest against the presence of cheap black labour on the mines which the white miners believed was undercutting their wages. The strike gave rise to a battle on the street around what is now the Ellis Park precinct. The soldiers were busy getting lunch when the strikers fired on them from the hedges and houses overlooking the field. Within minutes the field was strewn with dead and wounded. The strikers had very few rifles so were able to exploit a victory through surprise, courage and hand guns.

The project took place on the anniversary of some of the most violent attacks against foreign nationals in the Greater Ellis Park Precinct. Many of the women taking part in the project were returnees from refugee camps set up during the 2008 xenophobic violence — establishing a resonance between the theme of the artwork and the participants in the project.

The artwork was developed out of a partnership between Spaza Art Gallery and the Khula Udweba Community Arts Centre in Bertrams managed by the Curriculum Development Project Trust. The JDA commissioned Spaza Art Gallery to do the mural, and the CDP Trust’s unemployed women’s groups were identified to receive hands-on training and earn income from the making of the mosaic mural.

The Ellis Park Precinct development resulted in the upgrade of the historic houses on Erin Street, one of which ‘hosts’ the Miners’ Strike mosaic.

Location & Address

33-35 Bertrams Rd, New Doornfontein, Johannesburg, 2094